R & B Music Analysis

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Rhythm and Blues, commonly referred to as R&B, is a musical genre that has consistently changed over time. Containing elements of jazz, soul, funk, rock, gospel, hip-hop, rap, and even electronica, R&B is arguably the most layered genre in existence. In particular, the styles and themes of classic R&B of the late 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s is dramatically different than modern R&B of the 21st century. While classic R&B is typically characterized by slow tempos, instrumentation, group singers, and lyrics concerning love and sexual innuendos (“making love”); modern R&B is associated with fast tempos, auto tune/artificial beats, solo singers, and explicit lyrics about sex and/or ”hooking up”. Drawing from hit songs from both the classic and modern R&B time periods, I will argue that the styles, themes, and lyrical content of classic R&B have nearly disappeared in the twenty-first century and that this is largely due to the fact that modern R&B is heavily…show more content…
Modern R&B arose from a time when African American singers desired further self-expression. As asserted in Brackett (2014), they “sought to merge the rhythms and tough attitude of hip-hop with some of the vocal techniques and lyric subject matter of 1970s soul” (p. 515). Additionally, artists broke away from the use of a band and pursued solo careers in music. Nevertheless, this does not mean that classic R&B has completely disappeared from the music industry as artists like John Legend and Anthony Hamilton continue to pay homage to the sweet love ballads of the late 1960s, 70s, and early 80s (see Legend’s “All of Me” below). There is merely a new way of approaching R&B that correlates with the young people of this era who are hip, urban, and versatile in their musical tastes. Thus, I argue that classic R&B is not dead. Elements of classic R&B are still embedded in modern R&B, just with a hip-hop twist and a generation of listeners who appreciate the new

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