Grammy-nominated recording artist Kenyon Dixon is a Watts native who proves that R&B is anything but dead.

Coming from a family with a musical background, Dixon was born with a love of the arts. He’s the youngest of seven children, all who are musically inclined, and born from musician parents (his dad a guitarist and quartet singer and his mom a singer).

Music is a family business for the young artist making his mark in R&B, and he’s continuing the legacy. In an interview with the Los Angeles Sentinel, Dixon discussed his artistry, the projectivity of R&B as a genre, and his new single, “Getting Late,” from his most recent album “Closer.”

“I’ve always been in the arts via church,” shared Dixon, “but I’ve explored some different lanes of artistry, and like, just entertainment in general. I got into sports, I was dancing, I was doing all types of stuff.”

He continued, “I didn’t want to sing because all of my family could and I was the youngest. I was experiencing that youngest child syndrome, and just wanted to be different…And here I am.”

You may have heard the statement or rumors that R&B is dead. When asked if the artist believes this to be true, he shared that “there’s no truth in R&B being dead, but there’s truth in the sentiment that people are expressing, which is really just the disconnect from the R&B they love to the more progressive R&B out now. I think they just don’t know how to express that correctly.”

Dixon believes that R&B is present, and always had been. However, due to shifts in technology, R&B gains more profit when it’s more forward, producing a different version of the genre that we see today.

The artist explained, “I think you have to do a little more digging and searching, but I can tell you it’s out there because I’ve never stopped making it. And I know tons of other artists who make that music. But, I also think we should give newer artists a chance to be expressive. Because in every era, there are people who like what was in the past, and now those artists are some of our favorites. We should just let creatives create and take what we like and ignore what we don’t.”

What’s different in today’s R&B songs from ones of previous generations? Is it the lyrics?  The theme?  The overall quality of music?  Dixon believes it to be the emotions that a song could extract from the listener.

“The biggest thing is the feeling,” said Kenyon Dixon. “I think there are certain feelings that come with listening to R&B music and usually feelings of love and vulnerability. But the life experience and love experience in 2022 looks a lot different than it did in the 90s and 2000s. Creators, now, are only detailing what their experiences are like. They’re not living like their parents did.”

He continues, “[Artists] are being honest in their music, and that’s not translating to the people whose souls are yearning for nostalgia. They want what we once had.”

Dixon feels as though his music still fits in the realms of those who may want “nostalgia.” His newly released single, “Getting Late,” is ironically a symbol to this.

“‘Getting Late’ is a nod to R&B. I’m talking about the R&B we love that felt good. That R&B like back, back in the day when we used to be able to watch ‘106 & Park’ and see the countdowns…that kind of nostalgia,” said the singer.

“Getting Late” is inspired by Donnell Jones’ “Shorty Got Eyes on Me” and other works from artists like singer/songwriter Craig David. Dixon’s goal was specifically to touch on nostalgia from R&B from the early 2000s (one of his favorite musical eras).

Kenyon Dixon’s most recent album, “Closer,” is also a salute to classic R&B.

“Time and feeling are a true gauge in that. When I think about classic R&B, it needs to be able to evoke the same feeling every time you listen to a record.”

To write this album, Dixon listened to artists such as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Anita Baker, and took note of the feelings that he felt when listening to their music.

“I tried to match that feeling in what I was creating,” he expressed. “And if it did, that’s how I knew the song would make the album.”

A second release of the album, “Closer (Deluxe),” is also set to come out soon. Dixon shared that he really listened to his fans when it came to ameliorating this album.

“There’s an interlude on ‘Closer’ called ‘Expectations’ that they were on me about making a full song. There’s a version two of the song “WYTD ft. Gwen Bunn.” And then with “Getting Late,” there’s a flip at the end of the song where the song slows down and we extended that. There’re also three brand new records, one of them being ‘Friendzone.’”

More than anything, Kenyon Dixon hopes to solidify the question of “Is R&B Dead” with his music.

“R&B is alive and well,” he stated. “There is a lot of music that does not reflect the R&B that we love, however, there is enough music to still solidify that R&B is alive and well. I want to be a leader in this space, and make sure people know that artists still care about music.

“I still care about the quality of R&B. I still care about its core elements. And I want to make sure that my generation does not get counted out when it comes to this.”

For more information on Kenyon Dixon, and his music, check out his Instagram (@kenyongotsoul).

Category: Cover Stories