In its heyday, Billboard's R&B chart credibly reflected the tastes of the genre's core fans, paving the way for artists like James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Lionel Richie, Prince, and Whitney Houston. But now, a new digital methodology has rendered the tally a shell of its former self, replete with dubious racial and cultural consequences. Chris Molanphy details the chart’s storied history and discusses whether it can be fixed in our latest feature, "I Know You Got Soul".
This was a detailed story about an intensely frustrating and socially weird phenomenon. TBH, I just wanted to abolish all charts until I got to the final paragraph, and then I was saddened at what’s been lost. Does the idea of “charts” even make sense anymore? Is popularity just Berkeleyan idealism? Does -it- cease to matter if it’s not situated six inches -in front- of my face?