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.
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,Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. As of late, contemporary R&B rhythms are being combined with elements of hip-hop and pop music.
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.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".
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."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." 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.
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.
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 into mainstream R&B.
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.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. 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.
Simultaneously, in the second half of the 1990s, The Neptunes and Timbaland set influential precedence on contemporary R&B and hip hop music.
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.
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.
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.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.
Usher's "Confessions" (2004) sold 1.1 million copies in its first weekand 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". It 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!"
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.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". Chris Molanphy of The Village Voice later remarked that "by the early 2000s, urban music "was" pop music."
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. Second 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.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). 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). Rico Love co-wrote Usher's "Throwback" (2005), Keri Hilson's "Energy" (2008), Pleasure P's "Boyfriend #2" (2008). The-Dream wrote Rihanna's "Umbrella" (2007), J. Holiday's "Bed" and Usher's "Moving Mountains" and "Trading Places" (2008). Ne-Yo wrote Mario's "Let Me Love You", Rihanna's "Take a Bow" and "Unfaithful", and Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable" (2008).
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.
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, Kehlani, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Usher, John Legend, Frank Ocean, Pharrell Williams, PartyNextDoor, Chris Brown, Jennifer Lopez, The Weeknd, Ne-Yo, Khalid, and Ella Mai.
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",Usher's "OMG", "DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love", "Scream" and "Climax", Chris Brown's "Yeah 3x", "Turn Up the Music" and "Don't Wake Me Up" 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.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".
Latin R&B is gaining ground since the wave of artists began mixing trap with that sound in the middle of this decade.Spanish-language singles by Alex Rose, Rauw Alejandro and Paloma Mami, which borrow shrewdly from R&B, are captivating a global audience. In Latin America, the genre became popular with Alex Rose's "Toda", Dalex's "Pa Mi" and "Cuaderno", and most notably Sech's "Otro Trago".
Mariah Carey is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, actress, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Renowned for her five-octave vocal range, melismatic singing style, and signature use of the whistle register, Carey is referred to as the "Songbird Supreme" by Guinness World Records. She rose to fame in 1990 after signing to Columbia Records and releasing her eponymous debut album, which topped the US Billboard 200 for eleven consecutive weeks.
Usher Raymond IV is an American singer, songwriter, actor, businessman, and dancer. He was born in Dallas, Texas, but raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee until moving to Atlanta, Georgia. At the age of 12, his mother put him in local singing competitions before catching the attention of a music A&R from LaFace Records. He released his self-titled debut album Usher (1994), and rose to fame in the late 1990s with the release of his second album My Way (1997). It spawned his first U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number-one single "Nice & Slow", and the top-two singles "You Make Me Wanna..." and "My Way". His third album, 8701 (2001), produced the number-one singles "U Remind Me" and "U Got It Bad", as well as the top-three single "U Don't Have to Call". It sold eight million copies worldwide and won his first two Grammy Awards as Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 2002 and 2003.
The Neptunes is an American production duo composed of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, formed in Virginia Beach, Virginia in 1990. Williams often provides additional vocals on records and appears in music videos, unlike Hugo, who tends to stay behind the scenes.
Jermaine Dupri Mauldin is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer and record executive. He was born in Asheville, North Carolina and was raised in Atlanta. He has worked with and produced for Kris Kross, Mariah Carey, Usher, Jay-Z, Nelly, Monica, Migos, Da Brat, Xscape, Janet Jackson, TLC, Aretha Franklin, Ludacris, Alicia Keys, Jagged Edge and Bow Wow.
Butterfly is the sixth studio album by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey, released on September 16, 1997, by Columbia Records. The album contained both hip hop and urban adult contemporary sounds, as well as some softer and more contemporary melodies. Throughout the project, Carey worked with Walter Afanasieff, with whom she had written and produced most of the material from her previous albums. She also worked with many famed hip hop producers and rappers, such as Sean "Puffy" Combs, Q-Tip, Missy Elliott and the Trackmasters. With the latter acts producing most of the album, Butterfly deviated from the contemporary sound of Carey's older work.
"I'll Be There" is the first single released on Third Album by The Jackson 5. It's written by Berry Gordy, Hal Davis, Bob West, and Willie Hutch.
Christopher Alan "Tricky" Stewart is an American record producer, record executive, songwriter and music publisher. In a career spanning over 20 years, Stewart, at the helm of his company RedZone Entertainment, has won 5 Grammys and is responsible for over 10 million records sold. He is noted for producing many hip hop, R&B and pop chart topping singles, often with The-Dream. Some of Stewart's record breaking singles are: Beyoncé's Single Ladies " (2008), Rihanna's "Umbrella" (2007), Justin Bieber's "One Time" (2009) and "Baby" (2010), Britney Spears' "Me Against the Music" (2003), Mary J. Blige's "Just Fine" (2007), Mariah Carey's "Touch My Body" (2008) and "Obsessed" (2009), Ciara's "Ride" (2010), Mýa's "Case of the Ex" (2000), Karina Pasian's "16 @ War" (2008), and Nicole Scherzinger's "Your Love" (2014).
The Radio Songs chart is released weekly by Billboard magazine and measures the airplay of songs being played on radio stations throughout the United States across all musical genres. It is one of the three components, along with sales and streaming activity, that determine the chart positions of songs on the Billboard Hot 100.
Rainbow is the seventh studio album by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey. It was released on November 2, 1999, by Columbia Records. The album followed the same pattern as Carey's previous two albums, Daydream (1995) and Butterfly (1997), in which she began her transition into the urban market. Rainbow contains a mix of hip hop-influenced R&B jams, as well as a variety of slow ballads. On the album, Carey worked with David Foster and Diane Warren, who, as well as Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, replaced Walter Afanasieff, the main balladeer Carey worked with throughout the 90s. As a result of her separation from her husband, Tommy Mottola, Carey had more control over the musical style of this album, so she collaborated with several artists such as Jay-Z, Usher, and Snoop Dogg, as well as Missy Elliott, Joe, Da Brat, Master P, 98°, and Mystikal.
Bryan-Michael Paul Cox is an American record producer and songwriter who is notable for his extensive work with multiple platinum-selling artists including Usher, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, and Toni Braxton. Among his most notable productions are "Be Without You" for Mary J. Blige, "Burn", "Confessions Part II" and "U Got It Bad" for Usher, and "Shake It Off", "I Stay In Love" and "You Don't Know What To Do" for Mariah Carey.
R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay is a chart published by Billboard magazine that ranks the top R&B and hip hop songs in the United States, based on audience impressions from a panel of radio stations monitored by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems. It was also used in sister publication R&R, which listed the chart as Urban National Airplay. The chart is not the R&B/hip-hop subset of the Hot 100 Airplay chart, but rather uses a separate panel of R&B stations in urban and urban adult contemporary markets. It was the primary airplay component chart of the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart until the issue dated October 20, 2012, when Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs was revamped to include digital sales, streaming, and airplay from all radio formats. The Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart encompasses two separate airplay charts, both of which are based on radio spins rather than audience impressions: Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop and Adult R&B Airplay, which measure airplay on urban contemporary and urban adult contemporary stations respectively.
American singer Usher has released eight studio albums, ten compilation albums, eight extended plays, and 74 singles. His music has been released on the LaFace, Arista, Jive, and RCA record labels. More than 23 million of his albums have been shipped in the United States with over 100 million total records sold worldwide, making him one of the best selling music artists of all time. He has nine Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles and 18 Hot 100 top-ten singles. In 1994, Usher released his self-titled debut album in North America, producing three singles that had moderate chart success, and the album sold more than 500,000 copies. His follow-up 1997 album My Way sold over 8 million copies worldwide, becoming his breakthrough album. It was certified six-times platinum in the US, and spawned three successful singles, including his first UK number-one "You Make Me Wanna..." and first US Hot 100 number-one song "Nice & Slow". Usher's success continued in 2001 with his third studio album 8701. It debuted at number four on the Billboard 200. The album produced two number-one singles—"U Remind Me" and "U Got It Bad". It has sold more than 5 million copies and has been certified four-times platinum in the US. Its worldwide sales stand at over 8 million.
Richard Preston Butler Jr., better known by his stage name Rico Love, is an American singer, songwriter, actor, rapper and record producer. He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, but split his childhood between Milwaukee, Wisconsin and New York City's Harlem neighborhood. He attended Florida A&M and, while visiting Atlanta, Georgia, worked his way into the music industry through connections with Usher, who would become one of Love's frequent collaborators.
"Mine Again" is a song by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey, from her tenth studio album The Emancipation of Mimi (2005). It was co-written and co-produced by Carey and James Poyser. It was recorded at MSR Studios and Honeywest Studios, both located New York City. It is a R&B and soul inspired ballad. The lyrics revolve around the protagonist wishing for a second chance at a seemingly failed relationship. The song garnered positive reviews from music critics, praising Carey and Poyser's production and her vocal performance. Upon the release of The Emancipation of Mimi, "Mine Again" debuted on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at number 82, and reached a peak of number 73. In 2006, it was nominated for the Best Traditional R&B Performance at the Grammy Awards.
The Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart ranks the most popular R&B and hip hop songs in the United States and is published weekly by Billboard. Rankings are based on a measure of radio airplay, sales data, and streaming activity. The chart had 100 positions but was shortened to 50 positions in October 2012.
Thaddis Laphonia "Kuk" Harrell is an American songwriter, vocal producer, arranger and engineer. He was a member of a songwriting–production team composed of himself, Christopher "Tricky" Stewart and Terius "The Dream" Nash. In 2011, Kuk Harrell and partner Tricky Stewart joined the ranks of Fox's American Idol along with music mogul Jimmy Iovine, producing many of the songs performed on television by the contestants and released via iTunes. 2011 marked the highly anticipated return of Jennifer Lopez and her album LOVE? in which Kuk served as Album Vocal Producer. Earning his fourth Grammy for the vocal production of Rihanna's No. 1 Billboard Single "Only Girl ", Harrell is also the vocal producer and co-writer of Rihanna's Grammy-winning single "Umbrella". A composer and engineer on Beyoncé's chart topping "Single Ladies " from the album I Am... Sasha Fierce, he is also vocal producer and engineer of the Diane Warren-penned "I Was Here" from Beyoncé's 2011 album 4. He also produced the majority of the vocals on Mary J. Blige's Platinum album Growing Pains, which recently won a Grammy for "Best Contemporary R&B Album", 2008. The first single from Growing Pains, "Just Fine", earned a Grammy nomination for best R&B vocal performance in 2007.
"Love in This Club Part II" is a song recorded by American R&B singer Usher, and features fellow rapper Lil Wayne and singer Beyoncé. "Love in This Club Part II" was released by LaFace Records on April 28, 2008, as the second single from Usher's fifth studio album, Here I Stand (2008). It is a sequel to the album's lead single "Love in This Club" which features Young Jeezy. Originally, vocalist Mariah Carey and rapper Plies were intended to feature on the record. Usher acclaimed the additions of Beyoncé and Wayne, and called it "a really special record". Produced by Soundz, the track samples the 1971 song "You Are Everything" by The Stylistics.
Stargate is a Grammy Winning record producing and songwriting team composed of Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, based in Los Angeles. The team's genres include R&B, pop and hip hop. Stargate was established in Trondheim, Norway.
The singles discography of American rapper Jay-Z consists of singles, featured singles, collaborative singles, and promotional singles.
Ella Mai Howell is an English singer and songwriter. Her singing career began at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute in London in 2014, during which time she auditioned as part of a trio on the 11th season of The X Factor. In 2015, she uploaded a four-track solo EP of originals to SoundCloud titled Trouble, and was discovered on social media by American record producer Mustard and signed with his record label, 10 Summers Records.