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MUSIC MONDAY: “Yacht Soul” – What It Is, Who Made It, and Why It’s Everything You Love About Yacht Rock But Cooler (LISTEN)

Written by Good Black News

September 13, 2021

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

As we sail away from summer into the (hopefully) cooler climes of autumn, a playlist filled with Yacht Soul might just be the perfect accompaniment to those post-Labor Day outdoor gatherings.

In case you’re thinking, “Sounds fun, but what exactly is ‘Yacht Soul’?,” it’s the supercool, sophisticated sibling of the “Yacht Rock” genre, a term coined fifteen years ago to describe 1970s and 1980s adult-oriented rock music infused with jazz and R&B recorded primarily in California by acts such as Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers, Toto, Kenny Loggins and Christopher Cross.

“Yacht Soul” heightens the soul, R&B and jazz elements of the music while dropping a dollop of funk in the mix.

The following quotes from soultracks.com perhaps illuminate the distinctions best:

Donald Cleveland says that we have Yacht Soul question entirely backwards. “To be honest, Yacht Rock should have been called Yacht Soul from the start. Anybody with ears knows that. The only thing ‘rock’ about Yacht is the label that was on the albums as originally released, so they could be filed separately from the ‘Soul’ albums. It was just easier for the White people listening to this music with obvious soulful stylings to just keep the White ‘rock’ labeling going, even if the musicians themselves were influenced by and working from a framework of Black Soul.”

Mama’s Gun lead singer Andy Platts agrees. “Really if we’re honest, you don’t get ‘Yacht Rock’ without the evolution of Black music in the first place, from which it borrows heavily, so perhaps this just underscores the issues with appropriating and using terms like the ‘yacht’ label.”

Songs like “Just The Two of Us” by Grover Washington, Jr. and Bill Withers, “Forget Me Nots” by Patrice Rushen, “Give Me The Night” by George Benson, “Rio De Janiero Blue” by Randy Crawford and Joe Sample and “Golden Time of Day” by Maze are strong examples of the style.

Many Yacht Soul classics were produced by music legend Quincy Jones, who guided Patti Austin, James Ingram, and Michael Jackson through unforgettable tunes such as “The Heat of Heat,” “Ai No Corrida,” “One Hundred Ways,” “It’s The Falling In Love,” “I Can’t Help It, and “Human Nature.”

Artists such as Al Jarreau, Donny Hathaway & Roberta Flack, Keni Burke, Brenda Russell, Earth, Wind and Fire, Chaka Khan and Sade also swim in the deep seas of Yacht Soul, which came to be known as “urban contemporary” by the late 1980s and 1990s.

I want to highlight a personal favorite from this era – Jermaine Jackson‘s Top 20 R&B hit “You Like Me Don’t You” from his 1980 album Jermaine, written and produced by Jermaine and featuring a heart-melting harmonica solo from Stevie Wonder. The this mid-tempo cut still low key slaps. Hard.

You’ll notice some white artists in the Yacht Soul waters – many who charted as well or higher on the R&B charts than the Hot 100 with singles such as “Georgy Porgy” by Toto (featuring vocals by Cheryl Lynn), “What You Won’t Do For Love” by Bobby Caldwell and “The Lowdown” by Boz Skaggs.

Yacht Soul songs have also provided ample sample material for hip hop producers from the 1990s to present day — like Will Smith‘s use of “Forget Me Nots” as the backbone to his 1997 hit “Men in Black” and “I Keep Forgettin” as the driving groove of 1994’s “Regulate” by Warren G. — but there’s nothing like the original jams!

We truly hope you enjoy this compilation.

Original article source: https://goodblacknews.org/2021/09/13/music-monday-yacht-soul-what-it-is-who-made-it-and-why-its-everything-you-love-about-yacht-rock-but-cooler-listen/ | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council

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