Tag Archives: R&B

Is Urban Fiction Novels On a Decline?

What is happening to urban fiction? That seems to be a question that I am coming across a lot on Facebook. A question was posted the other day asking what people are tired of seeing in urban fiction and quite a few things came up that I’ve been saying since I first came on the scene.

  • Grammatical Errors
  • The same story-lines again and again by different authors
  • Authors using the same models for their covers
  • Kindle Unlimited
  • Hip-Hop and R&B song titles/lyrics as Book Titles

Just to name a few. And those were answers that were coming up more than once. Let’s address these issues.

Grammatical Errors

When I first came out with A Thug’s Redemption, I ordered 50 paperback copies. How embarrassed was I when I was reading it after having sold damn near all 50 copies as well as a few that was given away for reviews and promotional reasons not to mention the hundreds that were sold on Kindle, only to see that I had given the wrong PDF file to the printing company I was using which had MAD errors in it. Oh nigga I almost died. I wanted to crawl under a rock and DIE! I corrected that shit real quick and apologized to my readers for the mistake. I will admit that I was so excited to get my work in print that I confused one file with another. (AThugsRedemption1 was sent instead of AThugsRedemption1a) With my books after that, I scan through them with a fine tooth comb and have a back-up set of eyes (beta reader) to check for what I may have missed. So far so good. But man, I’ve read books where the author used hear instead of here (how sway???) didn’t know when to properly use there, their and they’re (how sway???) had two different names for one character and I don’t mean on some the character had multiple personalities and those were their names, just a complete rookie move on their part. Indie Authors are too busy trying to put out a large quantity of work instead of making sure they are putting out QUALITY work and it’s not a good look.

Same ass tired story lines! Example-

  • Hood chick snags big time drug dealer for boyfriend and lives the glamorous life until he is tragically killed.
  • Kingpin of whatever city is betrayed by his workers and doesn’t know who to trust
  • Project Chick is abused by her mom and meets prominent drug dealer who rescues her. She falls in love only to find out he has another family
  • Chick is molested by father, uncle, whoever and grows up to be a stripper with low self esteem sleeping with any man who pays her a compliment
  • Chick takes over drug business for slain or incarcerated drug dealing boyfriend

I’ma just stop right there. How many times are the same damn stories going to be told? Why are the same damn stories being told? Where is the originality? Where is the thought and effort in putting together a well thought out plot for an engaging story? Where, damn it? Where?

Authors using the same model for their covers

Whooo this one right here is grinding my gears and is the reason why here on out I’m using my own models or no models at all. When I first did the cover for A Thug’s Redemption back in April 2012, I specifically wanted a black guy in a hoody. When I came across the young man I’m using, I scanned the urban fiction section of Amazon Kindle to make sure nobody was using him AND THEY WEREN’T. Now all of a sudden I’m seeing his ass on so many different covers its a damn shame. And the only reason why I haven’t stopped using him is because number one, I used him first FOH with the rest of those covers and for two he fits my character Jamal to the letter.

Here are all of the covers that I have him on and he will be on the next cover as well.

atr1covNewATRCover2atr2atr3cover1

Something Thuggish This Way Comes
Something Thuggish This Way Comes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are all of the covers that I’ve been using him on since April 2012 when I first began prepping to release A Thug’s Redemption. Now his fine ass is everywhere. Ya’ll gotta fucking chill! Let me be GREAT!! Maybe I should find him and pay for custom photos that only I have the rights to use…

There is also a light-skinned chick with curly hair that is overly used in urban fiction. I’ve seen that chick on so many covers it makes me not want to read the book because my take on it is, do your research first! If you see another author using a person on more than one of their book covers, (whispers) use another person. It’s really that simple.

Kindle Unlimited

Man I’m not even going to get into that again. Go back a couple of blog posts and you’ll see my take on that. We’re getting raped. Period.

Hip-Hop and R&B song titles/Lyrics as book titles.

This is just lack of creativity and originality, period. If I can look at your book title and start rapping or singing a song, you’re dead wrong. I don’t know about some of these other authors, but I don’t want to be remembered as the writer who was too corny to come up with her own shit so she combed through the latest hot songs and used the titles or lyrics as the title of her book. Before I pick a title, I Google it to see if there are any other books with the title I have in mind or songs. If there are, I scrap it and go back to the drawing board. I had to change the title for Love’s Deadly Masquerade four times before I finally came up with Love’s Deadly Masquerade and honestly it fits better than the other titles I was thinking of. I’m at the start of a legal battle right now because I have to trademark A Thug’s Redemption since some chick decided to use that as her book title too. Oh hell no the fuck you will NOT! I changed that book title 3 or 4 times as well nine years ago when I first went with Publish America and was originally going to use A Thug’s Life but that was too Tupac-ish and I believe there was either a song or another book with that title. Any author who strives to be creative and original with their work would take offense with that fuckery as I did. I’ll update y’all soon on how this turns out because I do not like the idea of my books being confused or associated with hers especially after seeing some of home girl’s reviews. Not only did she STEAL my title but she had the nerve to use the same guy I used on her cover. Dick eating shit. This is what I mean when I say do your fucking homework because had she done so, a simple Google search would have shown her that my shit was EVERYWHERE. Who knows, maybe she did and just didn’t give a fuck. Well, she’s about to learn the hard way. I can’t get her for copyright infringement because titles aren’t protected under copyright law. But because my book was a series before her book came out and I also have merchandise and am working on the film for the book, A Thug’s Redemption will be trademarked and she can either take that shit down and change the title, or get ready to pay up.

Back to the matter at hand though…

There are still so many things wrong with urban fiction that is keeping it from being the well respected genre for African Americans. Urban Fiction is losing its flare because too many hacks (yeah I said it) are jumping into this field with poorly written novels. Blatant grammatical errors, authors being unoriginal with their titles, STEALING titles from other authors, hip-hop and R&B song titles and lyrics, and telling the same damn story again and again. It doesn’t take much to be original, to think outside the box, and to tell a story that has not been told before instead of remixing story lines and rehashing the same shit that was written time and time again. How many different ways can you tell the same story about a poor black girl who falls in love with the notorious dope boy only for him to be killed? We are so much more than strippers, dope boys, trap kings, and trap queens. There’s a beauty to our culture that is being left untouched because too many “writers” are putting out bulllshit because it sells.  The beauty of our culture is being overlooked by the ratchet shit.  Sadly, urban fiction is becoming stale like today’s hip-hop and R&B because not enough writers are being original, they are just hopping on the bandwagon for what’s selling at the time being. The mistake that too many writers are making is thinking that urban fiction is only about drugs, sex, money, designer clothes, bags and shoes and crime. Think outside the box for a change! There are readers out here who won’t touch an urban fiction book because they are worried it’s going to be the same shit, different toilet. We’ve gotta do better or soon White people are going to take this shit over too.

Throw-Back Thursday- Philly’s Own Boyz II Men Tribute

Boyz II Men
Boyz II Men

It’s Throwback Thursday and I can’t think of a better throwback for Philly than Boyz II Men. I still say to this day that not only was this the BEST male R&B group that came out of Philly, but this is the BEST Male group of all time. They had vocals unlike anything you could imagine. The way they harmonized together, the lyrics to their songs, their smooth, melodious sounds were unlike anything I have ever heard in my 30 years on this planet. (Wait… did I just tell my age. Sonuva…). You find me a group that has come out after Boyz II Men and tell me they’re better than Boyz II Men and I have no problem looking you in the eye and saying “You’s a damn lie!”

What I have always respected about Boyz II Men is that they did not have to resort to slutty song lyrics, singing about putting their tongue in explicit places while the random chick twerked this way and that. Yes, they made songs about love making. But it was sensuous and tasteful. Something that this generation of Chris Brown, Trey Songz and whoever the hell else is spewing this musical pornography, fans will never fully understand and never be able to appreciate.

A little history  on Boyz II Men. Yes, they are from Philly. They actually attended the high-school that I wanted to go to (but unfortunately I got stuck with University City… no shade though) Philadelphia High-School for Creative and Performing Arts , or as many of us call it, CAPA.  We know the group as consisting of four members, Nate, Mike, Shawn, and Wanya, (who didn’t have a crush on Wanya??) but the group actually started out with George Baldi, Jon Shoats, Marguerite Walker in 1985 and Wanya would later join the group in 1987. They first called themselves “Unique Attraction” and didn’t change it to Boyz II Men until Jon, George and Marguerite graduated and Shawn, Nate and Mike joined afterwards. With New Edition being one of their biggest inspirations, the group’s name Boyz II Men came from one of New Editions songs.

Boyz II Men got their big break in 1989 when they performed at a school’s Valentine’s Day party and then sneaked back-stage to sing for Bel Biv Devoe ( remaining members of New Edition, Michael Bivins, Ricky Bell, Ronnie Devoe) After singing the groups song “Can You Stand the Rain”, it would be Michael Bivins who would give the group their chance.

boyz2men2“Back in school we used to dream about this every day/ Could it really happen? Or do dreams just fade away/ So we started singing and they said it sound smooth/ So we started a group and here we are, kicking it just for you…” Those dope lyrics would be sang by practically everyone in Philly when “Motown Philly” would blast through the airwaves of Power 99FM in 1991, released May 24th. The song would immediately become a hit reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album, CooleyHighHarmony debuted at #58 on the Billboard 200 but would later reach #3 on the US charts and #7 in the UK. The group would also see success that year with their remake of G.C Cameron’s It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday from the 1975 movie, Cooley High. The song would meet much greater success behind the harmonious sounds of the Philadelphia native quartet peaking at #1 for Hot Hip-Hop/R&B Songs and eventually reach #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

boys2men3While a lot of R&B groups during the 90′s struggled to follow up with the same success they started out with, Boyz II Men came back just as strong with their 1993 hit “End of the Road” from the Blockbuster movie soundtrack Boomerang starring Eddie Murphy which topped the Top R&B Albums for two weeks.  The song would replace Diana Ross and Lionel Richie’s Endless Love as being Motown’s most successful song for the label.

“Close your eyes, make a wish, and blow out the candlelight/ For tonight is just your night/ We’re gonna celebrate, all through the night/ Pour the wine, light the fire/ Girl your wish is my command, I submit to your demands/ I will do anything, girl you need only ask/ I’ll make love to you, like you want me to/ And I’ll hold you tight, baby all through the night/ I’ll make love to you/ when you want me to/ And I will not let go ’till you tell me to..” (fanning myself) I was about to sing the whole damn song for y’all. Anybody born between 1994 and 1996, chances are, ya momma got pregnant because of this song. Go ahead and ask her. Of course she won’t “tell you”, just watch her facial expression change as she reminisces on that shit. LOL! boyz2men4 I remember as a kid, every time I turned on the radio, this song was playing. I have to say that this was the only song and group from my generation that my mother liked. She didn’t want to hear all the mumbo jumbo those other singers were spewing. But you turn on Boyz II Men, and she was cooler than a fan. “I’ll Make Love to You” became a #1 hit for Boyz II Men and Motown Records. It would top the charts holding the #1 spot for 14 weeks. It set a record for most weeks being at #1 at the time, tying the record with the late Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” from the Bodyguard soundtrack. The single turned platinum and won the 1995 Grammy Award  for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group and two American Music Awards for Favorite Pop/Rock Single and Favorite Soul/R&B Single. The song is still at #17 on Billboards All Time Top 100

Besides the Beatles, Boyz II Men was the only group to break their own record for number of weeks at #1 with “One Sweet Day”, a collaboration with platinum recording artist, Mariah Carey. The song would sit at the #1 spot for 16 weeks and is the longest running #1 song in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart. It’s shocking to know that this single did not win one single Grammy. (Highway robbery)

Though Boyz II Men is no longer a quartet (Michael McCray left the group in 2003 due to health issues) they still tour and perform and recently released an album in 2011 entitled “Twenty” in honor of their twenty years in the music business. It included 13 original songs along with eight re-recorded Boyz II Men songs.

“When you said goodbye, I felt so all alone/ there were times at night I couldn’t sleep, my heart was much to weak to make it on my own/ Baby after all the misery and pain you put me through/ so unfair to me girl, you’re no longer my world/ And I ain’t missing you… at all”- Doing Just Fine. When I first heard that song, all I could do was shake my head. That became one of my all time favorite Boyz II Men songs next to “End of the Road”. I still keep that in heavy rotation and I will admit, I get a little teary eyed at that part of the song. Wanya sang the hell out of that portion. I’d like to find the girl who broke his heart and brought out that kind of raw emotion to cause him to put so much energy into his part and not only slap the hell out of her, but give her a handshake too (if there were such a girl for the motivation behind his singing LOL). I still find myself saying, “You better sing the damn song, boy!” on that part.

Boyz II Men undoubtedly is one of the best (and I still say THEE best) male R&B groups of all time. And since “I’ll Make Love to You” was released July 26th, 1994 and is almost at it’s 20th anniversary, here is the music video below. Baby making music at its finest. LOL Enjoy everyone. Thanks for reading. PEACE!!