What comes to mind when you hear the term “R&B”? Is it a flashback to your parent’s backseat while they play Marvin Gaye and ask, “what you know about this”? Or is it crippling heartbreak, vulnerability, and a romance that sounds too good to be true. In my experiences, it’s all of that and more.
The term “Rhythm and Blues” was first introduced in the late 1940’s: its origin came from Jerry Wexler, Billboard reporter – turned influential producer; after the term “race music” was deemed as offensive. When they spoke about “race music” they meant music made for us by us. The music that historically reflects resilience and versatility; relies on soothing harmonies and soft lyrics. Examples of our most influential vocalists include Ray Charles, Minnie Riperton, Otis Redding, Anita Baker, Luther Vandross and so many more.
If you’re an 80’s/90’s baby, or you simply have an infatuation with arguably the best era of music, there’s still hope. Being open to sub-genres like Contemporary R&B, Alternative R&B, Neo-Soul, etc. will make this a smooth transition. Instead of trying to keep R&B specific and neatly categorized, allow it some room to breathe. There’s duality in these sounds and it’s bold to say that the vibe is “dead” when it is only evolving.
For those listeners who still have an appetite for the “old R&B/Rap”, but with a fresh sound. Here are a couple of favorites:
When I listen to Ari it’s like listening to the big sister I never had. She just gets it, everything about her sound and vibe is a mix of sweet & sexy, yet still fun; she takes risks. The 25-year-old D.C. native is signed to Dreamville /Interscope Records and recently made her first full-length album debut with Shea Butter Baby feat. cameos by JID & J.Cole. In this project, she recognizes feelings of independence with (“New Apartment”) and equally processes pain with freedom on (“I Been”, “Speak to Me”, & “Shea Butter Baby”).
Listen to her debut-album Shea Butter Baby below:
The 20-year-old St. Louis native is a hip-hop artist to keep an eye out for. What he raps about is organic and surprisingly developed for his age. He adds a nostalgic twist to a multitude of emotions seamlessly and makes it look easy. Having received trusted cosigns from Bryson Tiller and Lebron James it can only go up from here, his 13-track mixtape August is now available as well as his latest single Nowhere To Run.
Check out the Nowhere To Run video below: