The State Of R&B Today

The State Of R&B Today

Jaden Mercado, Staff Writer

R&B Music might never be the same, but it’s not dead. You have artists like Frank Ocean, SZA, and The Weeknd keeping the genre alive. R&B Music is rhythm & blues influenced by Hip-Hop and mixed with slow and up tempo beats.It might not be 90’s or 2000’s R&B, but today’s generation holds their weight.

Here’s my breakdown of R&B music yesterday and today.

Older R&B My personal experience is that there are a lot of slow jams during this time and the music is more intimate. There’s more male R&B artists back then than now. I do believe that 90’s and 2000’s R&B were peak R&B, but today’s is good as well. Maybe not on par with older R&B. Also, people are too stuck in nostalgia and not giving current music a chance. There were times when rappers rapped the chorus and the singers sang the song. For example, the song “Waterfalls”, by TLC dominated the R&B charts back then, rather than today Hip-Hop and Pop are usually in control.

Today’s R&B “Hip Hop has made an impact. People want to have fun and turn up, but people also want to hear raw, genuine emotions”, says rising R&B artist H.E.R. I can definitely identify with H.E.R’s statement because in today’s R&B there is certainly more fun and turn up R&B music nowadays. You can’t say that for older R&B music because Hip-Hop was rather new and couldn’t make enough impact to change the scenery of R&B. Now, the singers are doing the hooks usually. Sometimes the rappers rap the chorus but not as much back then. Streaming also caused a little ruckus because as rap artists and labels quickly leveraged the growth of digital streaming services, R&B was slower to adapt due to people who just wanted to listen to Hip-Hop rather than the less demand of R&B. Physical record sales have gone down due to streaming services as well.

Older R&B Sounds/Instruments – Soulful and rhythmic sounds. a slow pace Jazz incorporated sounds. Elements of funk and  disco, along with the use of synthesizers, drum machines, sound effects, and rap music sensibility. This became the “new jack swing, that was the 1980’s primarily. In the 1990’s, another movement had started towards the revival of soul music of the 1970’s. This became known as “neo soul.”

Both Drums are at a slow pace to set the tone. Snare’s are also in there. Claps are included as well. Piano is added to the set of instruments. Kicks are also included. Hi-Hats also joins how R&B sounds.

Today’s R&B Sounds/Instruments –  Experimental R&B and SZA who have at times incorporated more traditional neo-soul sounds. R&B is going to keep changing and transitioning to new sounds than just the norm. More Hip-Hop sounds are incorporated into R&B than ever due to the impact of the genre and how influential it became. Sampling too. Elementing EDM, Hip-Hop, Funk, Pop sounds into their songs now.

Older R&B Song Structure Usually there are bridges in the song. Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus.

Today’s R&B Song Structure – Usually there are no more bridges anymore. Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus.