When You Are RL From Next

RL just performed his last performances with Next in April, but has now joined a string of 90s r&b artists who’ve recently all released tributes to women. His single, “You Are”, pays respect to his mom, wife and newly born daughter.

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RL in the video for “You Are”

RL Then vs Now

It’s at least a decade ago, when I met RL on several occasions. In person, I couldn’t connect to him. His reputation for being arrogant preceded him. I just summed it up to it being true. However, I’m not one to really depend on rumors. Still, back then, I couldn’t even connect to his posts on social media, and thus, it’s safe to say, I haven’t kept up with him for probably 8 years or so.

Settled In His Ways

Recently, RL came up as a suggestion of people to follow again, so I gave it another chance. At first glance, I already see a change. RL’s been through a lot. He filed for bankruptcy in 2014, he’s matured and has been open about a lifetime of dealing with self esteem issues. Very open, in fact. He’ll share all of it in an upcoming documentary, because RL is definitely not afraid to share anymore.

He’s all settled in social media and uses it really well. In IGTV episodes he provides insights to the music industry and discusses many things on Instagram. RL is doing better. His songwriting and music saved him, financially. But the biggest difference is on a personal level. He became a proud dad and a proud husband. In April, he wrapped up the last Next performances, who decided to separate ways for now. During interviews, there was no talk of him releasing any new music of his own soon, but suddenly, he announced a new single, And it’s a positive, beautiful tribute to woman.

Praising Women

The ballad, “You Are”, is one of many respectful odes to women released by artists belonging to the 90s r&b scene. Johnny Gill set the tone with “Soul Of A Woman” and then Ruff Endz released “Virtuous Woman”. There’s a solid counterweight on offer to the lyrics of contemporary r&b. Personally, I love seeing the gap between the generations. There aren’t many artists who build a bridge between the two, but RL is one them, who’s been able to thrive in both. As a songwriter, he’s got one foot in the present and as an artist, he tries to find the balance between the old and the new. This beautiful and catchy ballad is a great example of this.

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