Remember sweet rhythm and blues crooner Brian McKnight? Last you heard of him, he was probably soothing your romantic soul with a melodic love ballad.
Well you can burn those memories to hell, because the Brian McKnight of 2012 wants to “show you how your pu**y works.” Oh yes — this 90s R&B icon has officially committed career suicide.
“I had an idea about doing an adult mixtape,” Brian McKnight begins to explain on a YouTube video that is now slowly going viral. According to the video, he polled his Twitter followers, and combined with the casual conversations he’s had with other men and women, came up with the following lyrics: “Let me show you how your pu**y works, since you didn’t bring it to me first/I have lots of things to show you if you’re ready to learn. Let me show you how your pu**y works, bet you didn’t know that it could squirt. I have lots of things to show you if you’re ready to learn.”
April Fool’s Day has long passed us, so my only assumption is that Brian McKnight is serious in his delivery of “If You’re Ready to Learn,” what has to be one of the worse songs he’s ever written.
McKnight seems rather proud of the song, yet his fans were less than pleased. Following his release of the song snippet, the singer briefly became a trending topic on Twitter. Most tweeters slammed McKnight’s new direction, disappointed that he was embracing a raunchier sound. After one fan tweeted McKnight that he had “the talent to make timeless, classic music,” McKnight replied, ”@ItsJamieJ unfortunately no one plays that music Anymore ago what r true artists supposed to do.”
Is it a publicity stunt? Perhaps, but not a well-thought out one. Certainly McKnight is feeling the pressure of the young R&B singers who openly sing of sex with a crass tone that rarely warrants a finger wag, let alone a Twitter trend. R&B has changed dramatically since McKnight’s 1999 peak, and at 42 years old, he might not be able to compete.
Yet instead of innovating to appeal to a different audience (see Lionel Richie’s recent genre switch), McKnight panders to the lowest denominator or the masses to…show how low one must go to create a buzz? Prove the depraved status of R&B today? Or is it all of the above?
The fact is, the state of R&B today is definitely in flux — take a scan of the Billboard charts (which does the great disservice of bunching hip-hop and R&B into one category), and you’ll see that of the songs in the top 10, only 3 are actually by people who can be considered R&B singers (and no, I’m not including Rihanna). Only one of those songs is a love ballad, a genre in which McKnight excelled.
It’s no surprise that McKnight would feel lost in the modern R&B market, but after the dust settles from the eye-roll inducing lyric “let me show you how your pu**y works,” he’ll likely find himself in a worse off position than where he started.
Follow Kia Miakka Natisse on Twitter at @miakka_natisse