Contemporary R&B

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Contemporary R&B (also known as simply R&B) is a music genre that combines elements of rhythm and blues, pop, soul, funk, hip hop and electronic music.

A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from musical form and musical style, although in practice these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Recently, academics have argued that categorizing music by genre is inaccurate and outdated.

Rhythm and blues, commonly abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originated in African American communities in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a heavy, insistent beat" was becoming more popular. In the commercial rhythm and blues music typical of the 1950s through the 1970s, the bands usually consisted of piano, one or two guitars, bass, drums, one or more saxophones, and sometimes background vocalists. R&B lyrical themes often encapsulate the African-American experience of pain and the quest for freedom and joy, as well as triumphs and failures in terms of relationships, economics, and aspirations.

Pop music is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form in the United States and United Kingdom during the mid-1950s. The terms "popular music" and "pop music" are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular and includes many diverse styles. "Pop" and "rock" were roughly synonymous terms until the late 1960s, when they became increasingly differentiated from each other.

Contents

The genre features a distinctive record production style, drum machine-backed rhythms, pitch corrected vocals, and a smooth, lush style of vocal arrangement. Electronic influences are becoming an increasing trend and the use of hip hop or dance-inspired beats are typical, although the roughness and grit inherent in hip hop may be reduced and smoothed out. Contemporary R&B vocalists are often known for their use of melisma, popularized by vocalists such as Michael Jackson, R. Kelly, Craig David, Stevie Wonder, [1] Whitney Houston [1] [2] [3] and Mariah Carey. [2] [4] [5]

Record producer Individual who oversees and manages the recording of an artists music

A record producer or music producer oversees and manages the sound recording and production of a band or performer's music, which may range from recording one song to recording a lengthy concept album. A producer has many, varying roles during the recording process. They may gather musical ideas for the project, collaborate with the artists to select cover tunes or original songs by the artist/group, work with artists and help them to improve their songs, lyrics or arrangements.

Drum machine electronic musical instrument designed to imitate the sound of drums or other percussion instruments

A drum machine is an electronic musical instrument that creates percussion. Drum machines may imitate drum kits or other percussion instruments, or produce unique sounds. Most modern drum machines allow users to program their own rhythms. Drum machines may create sounds using analog synthesis or play prerecorded samples.

Pitch correction Technique for calibrating the pitch of an audio recording to match musical notes

Pitch correction is an electronic effects unit or audio software that changes the intonation of an audio signal so that all pitches will be notes from the equally tempered system. Pitch correction devices do this without affecting other aspects of its sound. Pitch correction first detects the pitch of an audio signal, then calculates the desired change and modifies the audio signal accordingly. The widest use of pitch corrector devices is in Western popular music on vocal lines.

History

Contemporary R&B originated at the end of the disco era, in the late-1970s, when Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones added more electronic elements to the sound of the time to create a smoother dancefloor-friendly sound. [6] The first result was Off the Wall (1979), which—according to Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic—"was a visionary album, that found a way to break disco wide open into a new world where the beat was undeniable, but not the primary focus" and "was part of a colorful tapestry of lush ballads and strings, smooth soul and pop, soft rock, and alluring funk". [7]

Michael Jackson American singer, songwriter and dancer

Michael Joseph Jackson was an American singer, songwriter, and dancer. Dubbed the "King of Pop", he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest entertainers. Jackson's contributions to music, dance, and fashion, along with his publicized personal life, made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades.

Quincy Jones American record producer, conductor, arranger, composer, television producer, and trumpeter

Quincy Delight Jones Jr. is an American record producer, multi-instrumentalist, singer, and film producer. His career spans over 60 years in the entertainment industry with a record 80 Grammy Award nominations, 28 Grammys, and a Grammy Legend Award in 1992.

<i>Off the Wall</i> 1979 studio album by Michael Jackson

Off the Wall is the fifth solo studio album by American singer Michael Jackson, released on August 10, 1979 in the United States by Epic Records and internationally by CBS Records. It was Jackson's first album released through Epic Records, the label he recorded under until his death in 2009, and the first produced by Quincy Jones, whom he met while working on the 1978 film The Wiz. Several critics observed that Off the Wall was crafted from funk, disco, soft rock, Broadway and pop ballads. Its lyrical themes include escapism, liberation, loneliness, hedonism and romance.

Richard J. Ripani wrote that Janet Jackson's Control (1986) was "important to the development of R&B for a number of reasons", as she and her producers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, "crafted a new sound that fuses the rhythmic elements of funk and disco, along with heavy doses of synthesizers, percussion, sound effects, and a rap music sensibility." [8] Ripani wrote that "the success of Control led to the incorporation of stylistic traits of rap over the next few years, and Janet Jackson was to continue to be one of the leaders in that development." [8] That same year, Teddy Riley began producing R&B recordings that included hip hop influences. This combination of R&B style and hip hop rhythms was termed new jack swing and was applied to artists such as Michael Jackson, Bobby Brown, Keith Sweat, Al B. Sure!, Guy, Jodeci, and Bell Biv DeVoe.

<i>Control</i> (Janet Jackson album) 1986 studio album by Janet Jackson

Control is the third studio album by American recording artist Janet Jackson, released on February 4, 1986, by A&M Records. Her collaborations with the songwriters and record producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis resulted in an unconventional sound: a fusion of rhythm and blues, rap vocals, funk, disco and synthesized percussion that established Jackson, Jam and Lewis as the leading innovators of contemporary R&B. The album became Jackson's commercial breakthrough and enabled her to transition into the popular music market, with Control becoming one of the foremost albums of the 1980s and contemporary music. The album is also notable for being what originated the style and genre that came to be known as new jack swing.

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis American R&B songwriting and record production team

James Samuel "Jimmy Jam" Harris III and Terry Steven Lewis are an American R&B/pop songwriting and record production team. They have enjoyed great success since the 1980s with various artists, most notably Janet Jackson. They have written 31 top ten hits in the UK and 41 in the US.

Teddy Riley American record producer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and singer from New York

Edward Theodore Riley is an American singer, songwriter, record producer and multi-instrumentalist credited with the creation of the new jack swing genre. He fused hip hop and R&B in his production work with artists including Michael Jackson, Bobby Brown, Keith Sweat, Samantha Mumba, Doug E. Fresh, Today, Heavy D & the Boyz, Hi-Five, Men of Vizion and Profyle, as well as his spearheaded groups Guy and Blackstreet. Riley's consistency and drum ideas had some influence on modern-day R&B, which since him contained more samples and rapping segments as well as singing, a practice which in part was reminiscent of the Jackson family. Along with Neo Soul style of singers such as Marvin Gaye, he has had a seminal influence on gospel and R&B music, which became more open to using rap and sound effects in their recordings.

1990s

R. Kelly was listed in 2010 by Billboard the most successful R&B artist of the past 25 years. He is also referred to as the King of R&B. Ballasyrkellypic.jpg
R. Kelly was listed in 2010 by Billboard the most successful R&B artist of the past 25 years. He is also referred to as the King of R&B.

In contrast to the works of Boyz II Men, Babyface and similar artists, other R&B artists and groups from this same period began adding even more of a hip-hop sound to their work, like the innovative group Jodeci. The synthesizer-heavy rhythm tracks of new jack swing were replaced by grittier East Coast hip hop-inspired backing tracks, resulting in a genre labeled hip hop soul by Mary J. Blige and producer Sean Combs who also had mentored group Jodeci in the beginning and helped them with their unique look. The style became less popular by the end of the 1990s, but later experienced a resurgence.

Boyz II Men American rhythm & blues vocal group

Boyz II Men is an American R&B vocal group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, best known for emotional ballads and a cappella harmonies. They are currently a trio composed of baritone Nathan Morris alongside tenors Wanya Morris and Shawn Stockman. During the 1990s, Boyz II Men found fame on Motown Records as a quartet including bass Michael McCary, who left the group in 2003 due to health issues.

Babyface (musician) American singer, songwriter and record producer

Kenneth Brian Edmonds, known professionally as Babyface, is an American singer, songwriter and record producer. He has written and produced over 26 number-one R&B hits throughout his career, and has won 11 Grammy Awards. He was ranked number 20 on NME's 50 Of The Greatest Producers Ever list.

Jodeci is an American R&B quartet with members DeVanté Swing, Mr. Dalvin, K-Ci, and JoJo. Formed in 1989 in Charlotte, North Carolina, Jodeci's members began their musical careers as two duos of brothers and, after years of limited success, joined forces. After signing with Uptown Records in 1991, the group began to work on their debut album, Forever My Lady, which brought them mainstream success with the Billboard Hot 100 single "Come and Talk to Me" and the album's titular track.

In 1990, Mariah Carey released "Vision of Love" as her debut single. It was immensely popular peaking at number 1 in many worldwide charts including the Billboard Hot 100, and it propelled Mariah's career. The song is usually said to have popularized the use of melisma and brought it in to mainstream R&B.

Mariah Carey American singer and songwriter

Mariah Carey is an American singer, songwriter, actress, record producer, and entrepreneur. Referred to as the "Songbird Supreme" by the Guinness World Records, she is noted for her five-octave vocal range, melismatic singing style, and signature use of the whistle register. She rose to fame in the early 1990s after signing to Columbia Records and releasing her eponymous debut album, which topped the U.S. Billboard 200 for eleven consecutive weeks. Soon after, Carey became the only artist ever to have their first five singles reach number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, from "Vision of Love" to "Emotions".

Vision of Love single

"Vision of Love" is the debut single by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey. Written by Carey and Ben Margulies, "Vision of Love" was released as the lead single from Carey's self-titled debut album on May 15, 1990. After being featured on Carey's demo tape for Columbia, the song was re-recorded and produced by Rhett Lawrence and Narada Michael Walden. "Vision of Love" features a slow-dance theme tempo and backing vocals sung by Carey herself, and introduces her usage of the whistle register. Lyrically, the song describes both a past and present relationship with a lover: Carey describes the "vision of love" she dreamed of, as well as the present love she feels for him.

The Billboard Hot 100 is the music industry standard record chart in the United States for songs, published weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on sales, radio play, and online streaming in the United States.

During the mid-1990s, Whitney Houston's The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album sold over 40 million copies worldwide becoming the best-selling soundtrack of all time. [11] Janet Jackson's self-titled fifth studio album janet. (1993), which came after her historic multimillion-dollar contract with Virgin Records, sold over twenty million copies worldwide. [12] [13] Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey recorded several Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hits, including "One Sweet Day", a collaboration between both acts, which became the longest-running No. 1 hit in Hot 100 history. Carey also released a remix of her 1995 single "Fantasy", with Ol' Dirty Bastard as a feature, a collaboration format that was unheard of at this point. Carey, Boyz II Men and TLC released albums in 1994 and 1995— Daydream , II and CrazySexyCool .

In the late 1990s, neo soul, which added 1970s soul influences to the hip hop soul blend, arose, led by artists such as D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill and Maxwell. Hill and Missy Elliott further blurred the line between R&B and hip hop by recording both styles. Beginning in 1995, the Grammy Awards enacted the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album, with II by Boyz II Men becoming the first recipient. The award was later received by TLC for CrazySexyCool in 1996, Tony Rich for Words in 1997, Erykah Badu for Baduizm in 1998 and Lauryn Hill for The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1999. At the end of 1999, Billboard magazine ranked Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson as the first and second most successful artists of the 1990s. [14]

Simultaneously, in the second half of the 1990s, The Neptunes and Timbaland set influential precedence on contemporary R&B and hip hop music. [15]

R&B acts such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Usher and Toni Braxton are some of the best-selling music artists of all time.

2000s

"Modern r&b isn't about discrete songs. It's about texture, mood, feel—vocal and instrumental and rhythmic, articulated as they're smooshed together."

Robert Christgau, The Village Voice , 2003 [16]

Usher was cited by Billboard as the no. 1 Hot 100 artist of the 2000s decade, with 7 number-one singles that accumulated 42 weeks at the top. Usherraymond (300dpi).jpg
Usher was cited by Billboard as the no. 1 Hot 100 artist of the 2000s decade, with 7 number-one singles that accumulated 42 weeks at the top.

Following periods of fluctuating success, urban music attained commercial dominance during the early 2000s, which featured massive crossover success on the Billboard charts by R&B and hip hop artists. [18]

Alicia Keys ranked fifth on Billboard Artist of the Decade list. "No One" ranks No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 songs of the decade. Alicia Keys, Lisboa 08 c.jpg
Alicia Keys ranked fifth on Billboard Artist of the Decade list. "No One" ranks No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 songs of the decade.

In 2001, Alicia Keys released "Fallin'" as her debut single. It peaking at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, Mainstream Top 40 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. It won three Grammy Awards in 2002, including Song of the Year, Best R&B Song, and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. It was also nominated for Record of the Year. [20] Beyoncé's solo studio debut album Dangerously in Love (2003) has sold over 5 million copies in the United States and earned five Grammy Awards. [21] [22]

Usher's Confessions (2004) sold 1.1 million copies in its first week [23] and over 8 million copies in 2004, since then it has been certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and, as of 2016, has sold over 10 million copies in the US and over 20 million copies worldwide. Confessions had four consecutive Billboard Hot 100 number one singles—"Yeah!", "Burn", "Confessions Part II" and "My Boo". [24] It won won three Grammy Awards in 2005, including Best Contemporary R&B Album, Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for "My Boo" and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Yeah!" [25]

Beyonce was named by Billboard the most successful female act of the 2000s. Beyonce Knowles GMA 2011 cropped.jpg
Beyoncé was named by Billboard the most successful female act of the 2000s.

In 2004, all 12 songs that topped Billboard Hot 100 were African-American recording artists and accounted for 80% of the number-one R&B hits that year. [18] Along with Usher's streak of singles, Top 40 radio and both pop and R&B charts were topped by Outkast's "Hey Ya!", Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot", Terror Squad's "Lean Back" and Ciara's "Goodies". [18] Chris Molanphy of The Village Voice later remarked that "by the early 2000s, urban music was pop music." [18]

Between 2005 and 2009 Raymond, Knowles and Keys released albums— B'Day , Here I Stand , I Am... Sasha Fierce and The Element of Freedom .

Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi (2005) debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and earned ten Grammy Award nominations. Led single "We Belong Together" topped the Hot 100 charts for 14 weeks, and was later hailed "song of the decade" and won a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in 2006.

The mid-2000s came with the emergence of new R&B acts Ashanti, Trey Songz, Omarion, Ciara, Christina Milian, Mario, Keyshia Cole and Akon. Ashanti's eponymous debut album topped both US Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. It earned her three Grammy nominations winning one for the Best Contemporary R&B Album. R&B newcomer Chris Brown released his self-titled album in 2005 which debuted at number two on the Billboard 200. His debut single "Run It!" peaked on the Billboard Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and the US Radio Songs.

During this time also came the emergence of R&B songwriters. [26] Bryan-Michael Cox co-wrote Usher's "Burn" and "Confessions Part II" (2005), Mariah Carey's "Shake It Off" and "Don't Forget About Us" (2006), and Chris Brown's "Say Goodbye" (2006). [27] Keri Hilson would co-write songs Mary J. Blige's "Take Me as I Am" (2006), Omarion's "Ice Box" (2006), and Ciara's "Like a Boy" (2006). [28] Rico Love co-wrote Usher's "Throwback" (2005), Keri Hilson's "Energy" (2008), Pleasure P's "Boyfriend #2" (2008). [29] The-Dream wrote Rihanna's "Umbrella" (2007), J. Holiday's "Bed" and Usher's "Moving Mountains" and "Trading Places" (2008). [30] Ne-Yo wrote Mario's "Let Me Love You", Rihanna's "Take a Bow" and "Unfaithful", and Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable" (2008). [31]

According to Billboard , the most commercially successful R&B acts of the decade were Usher, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Chris Brown and Ne-Yo. [32]

2010s

Kelly Rowland 2012.jpg
Chris Brown 2, 2012.jpg
Usher at Madison Square Garden by Loren Wohl.jpg
Ne-Yo (15329874953).jpg
Contemporary artist Kelly Rowland from upper left: Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, and Usher have experimented with EDM.

Continuing from the 1990s and early 2000s, R&B, like many other genres, drew influences from the technical innovations of the time and began to incorporate more electronic and machine-made sounds and instruments. The use of effects such as Auto-Tune and new computerized synths have given R&B a more futuristic feel while still attempting to incorporate many of the genre's common themes such as love and relationships. The evolutions of the genre's production and instrumentation have spurred the successes of performers such as Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, SZA, Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Ariana Grande, Usher, John Legend, Frank Ocean, Pharrell Williams, Chris Brown, Jennifer Lopez, The Weeknd, Ne-Yo, Khalid, and Ella Mai.

"These days almost all r&b goes for voice-plus-sound rather than voice-plus-song, with the sound ranging from precision track-and-hook to idiosyncratic atmospherics."

—Christgau, Vice , 2017 [33]

Early 2010s artists such as Kelly Rowland, Ne-Yo, Usher, and Chris Brown began embracing new electronic influences while still keeping R&B's original feel. Kelly Rowland"s "Commander", [34] Usher's "OMG", [35] "DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love", [36] "Scream" [37] and "Climax", [38] Chris Brown's "Yeah 3x", [39] "Turn Up the Music" [40] and "Don't Wake Me Up" [41] are all EDM-oriented. As this electronic element continues to grow apparent throughout the genre, contemporary artists like are gaining popularity outside of R&B and continue to collaborate with non-R&B artists.

Singers Miguel, John Legend, Jeremih, Eric Bellinger, and Chris Brown are popular in mainstream hip hop for many collaborations with rappers such as Wale, Rick Ross, YG, and J.Cole. Today's R&B is far more diverse and incorporates more sonic elements than before, as it expands its appeal and commercial viability. [42] Trap music's influence maintained a strong presence on the music charts with R&B singer Beyoncé's songs "Drunk in Love", "Flawless" and "7/11", Bryson Tiller's debut studio album, Trapsoul, and Mary J. Blige's "Thick of It". [43] .

See also

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<i>Butterfly</i> (Mariah Carey album) 1997 studio album by Mariah Carey

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Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel is the twelfth studio album by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey. It was released on September 29, 2009 by Island Records. After promotion for her previous album, E=MC² (2008) ended, Carey began to work on a new album, producing songs with Terius "The-Dream" Nash and Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, and revealed the album's title through Twitter. Carey said that Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel would have "big ballads", and that "each song is its own snapshot of a moment in a story".

<i>Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse</i> 2014 studio album by Mariah Carey

Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse is the fourteenth studio album by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey. It was released on May 23, 2014, through Def Jam Recordings, her only album on the label. The record had been in development since 2011; during its production, Carey hired friend and collaborator Randy Jackson to manage her career, before replacing him with another frequent collaborator, Jermaine Dupri. The album consists of guest appearances from Nas, Miguel, Wale, and Fabolous, as well as gospel and R&B duo Mary Mary, in addition to Carey's twins Moroccan and Monroe. On the deluxe edition of the album, R. Kelly and Mary J. Blige respectively make appearances on remixes of two songs - Betcha Gon' Know and It's a Wrap - taken from Carey's twelfth studio album Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel (2009). These remixes were originally intended to appear on Carey's canceled remix album, Angel's Advocate (2010).

Jay-Z singles discography singles discography

The singles discography of American rapper Jay-Z consists of singles, featured singles, collaborative singles, and promotional singles.

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Further reading