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Contemporary R&B: Slap is Extinct

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Dr. Cheese, Sep 24, 2008.


  1. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I have recently realized just how old I am by listening to contemporary r&b, slap is totally absent. Outside of some urban Gospel and Smooth Jazz, it is no longer heard in Pop music. Also bass is mixed much lower than it was back in the Seventies and Eighties. I was really struck by how much the bass is in the back when I saw Lil' Wayne on Saturday Night Live two weeks ago.

    I ain't complaining though.:) Slap will likely come around again just P-basses and flats have come back now.:)
     
  2. Ace Of Bass

    Ace Of Bass A Rooster Illusion

    Jun 27, 2006
    DC
    you know, I never thought about that until you brought that up........very true......last I can really think of where there was some serious slappin' grooves was one of Maxwell's first albums....guess fingerstyle is where it's at right now.......sorry to be following you around the threads, but you got some hot topics right now.......:)
     
  3. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    You took the words out my mouth! Maxwell was the last r&b dude to feature slap prominently on his CD and that was 1996.:eek:
     
  4. 1999 - Brian McKnight - back at one
    I believe I heard slap bass on that cd, not 100% sure, I'll have to hear it again.
     
  5. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    Slap bass just moved over to Gospel.;)
     
  6. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Hillsdale, Portland
    Funny to notice trends. Producers/artists want something and then don't want to sound like somebody else and it changes. To play gigs though, you still need to "Play That Funky Music"...
     
  7. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Live band gigs are a very different animal. Often live bands play for much older and whiter crowds than the base audience of contemporary r&b, so the older songs with slap would be in greater demand.
     
  8. kirkm24

    kirkm24

    Jan 1, 2007
    Columbus, Ohio
    This is definitely true. Not to quote him exactly but Justin Meldal Johnson, in his forum, said he has heard of session bassists getting fired after slapping and popping even if they are just messing around between takes. I think producers, in all genres of music, are just wanting clean deep low fingerstyle bass Hofners and hollow body electrics as well as P basses are typically what stuido players are using nowadays.

    I think even the lines are getting more simplified. I like the trend personally. I think a good solid groove player will do more to support the song than a crazy, all over the place bass line.
     
  9. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    These are dire times...I hope that one day, great bass playing will make it's way back into pop music!
     
  10. AlphaMale

    AlphaMale

    Oct 30, 2006
    Ventura County
    R&B isn't really a genre.

    Fats Domino, Marvin Gaye, Chris Brown and Destiny's Child can't be the same genre of music.
     
  11. Gotta remember that in the "old days" ('60s, '70s...) popular studio tracks were mixed to sound good on 2" AM radio speakers.
     
  12. deaf pea

    deaf pea

    Mar 24, 2005
    Cuernavaca 1 hr S Mexico City
    Seymour Duncan/Basslines SMB-5A Endorsing Artist
    Some of us STILL do it that way (mix "to sound good on 2" AM radio speakers") . . .
     
  13. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    When other non-bassists talk to me about slap or request it, more than not they're after that high-octane/'look at me and my Victor chops' type of slap playing. It makes me wonder if slap gets a bad rap with producers because they percieve that this is what most bass players are going to bring when slapping is suggested on a part. It's been a while since I"ve heard someone lay out some ol' school 'thumpin and pluckin' slap in a song.

    Don't get me wrong, I like and respect double thumping techniques that impress the audience and the other bassists in the room, but there are other ways of going about it that enhance the song and the pocket/groove.

    IMO of course.
     
  14. CapnSev

    CapnSev

    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    It ought to still be that way IMO. I think they even did a good job mixing up until the late 90s. My biggest beef with modern music is the mix. Rock is a big mess of instruments that I can't distinguish, and R&B is a bunch of subwoofer-bumping garbage.
     
  15. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I'm gonna slap 'til I can't slap no mo'! The current state of 'radio' r&b is a sad one! These home brewed studio producers using samples, beats and synths are killing music! I really don't listen to the radio these days anyway! The music sounds the same. The singers sound the same with the exception of a few! Here today, gone tomorrow. Whatever happened to long term careers like Gladys, Tina, Stevie, Luther, etc???

    As far as slap bass, it's pretty prevelant in Gospel and smooth/contemporary jazz and is still quite a staple in live local music scenes! Definitely going strong in my neck of the woods!
     
  16. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Word!! In fact, it's pretty much destroyed the stereo system in my wifes car! Since most standard car systems are not designed to handle those frequencies!
     
  17. mdiddium

    mdiddium

    Jun 21, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA
    I just bought the 2007 Erykah Badu "Amerykah Vol. 1," and heard a couple of slap/pop licks thrown in. No prominent grooves completely slapping, but those particular riffs did grab my attention, so I thought I would post the relevance here (I'll have to look up who the bass player is, haven't read the liner notes yet).

    Anyway, yeah, I agree that's it's sort of passe for right now, but you never know when it could be used to great effect.

    For example, anyone see the Youtube clip about Steely Dan cutting "Peg?" They specifically didn't want Chuck Rainey to slap on the tune, so he just turned around so that they wouldn't see him slapping through the studio glass on every chorus. For me, that's one of the elements that makes the tune, and even Donald Fagen and Walter Becker had to admit that it helped better the song. Given that is an old song now, but it's the same "no slap" attitude that was eventually turned around.

    So, maybe if we are sneaky, we can bring slap back into the mainstream!
     
  18. That is a great story! One of my mentors has a 'name' gig, and he was told right off the bat...."No slapping!" Well, that lasted about 10 minutes. Once the leader heard it being done in a musical context, he was all for it.

    I miss the days where slapping really made a tune jump to life instead of squeezing it to death. When its done right, there's nothing like it. (And that definitely does include pyrotechnics and "because I can" by the few cats who can really take it to another level.)

    Whatever technique it takes to make the tune happy is the right technique, at least in my book. I always toss out the cliche, but it's true. I've never gotten a gig because I can slap, but I've gotten return calls because of it. :)
     
  19. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    That's not a very good argument. You have mentioned artists who were active over a fifty year period. Just think, neither Chris Brown or Destiny's Child were born when Fats Domino was at his peak. (Heck, I wasn't born and I am old enough to be Beyonce or Chris Brown's Dad.:eek:) No contemporary music sounds the same after fifty years. Also there is no style of music where all of the artists sound the same.
     
  20. T-MOST

    T-MOST Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2004
    NJ via NYC
    What he said! :D
     

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