R&B: Then and Now

By Anke Rose Horca

Evolving out of jump blues in the late 1940s, R&B laid the grand mark for rock and roll. R&B which means “rhythm and blues” is a genre of popular African-American music that originated in the 1940s. It kept the tempo and the drive of jump blues, but its instrumentation was sparer and the emphasis was on the song and not improvised. It was blues chord changes played with an insistent blackbeat.

R&B features a distinctive record production style, drum machine-backed rhythms, an occasional saxophone laid beat to give a jazz feel and a smooth lush style of vocal arrangement.

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 the genre’s common themes such as love and relationship.

R&B has helped mend broken hearts, made lovers fall in love and helped ignite generations to move figuratively and literally.

We Belong Together by Mariah Carey, Say Goodbye by Chris Brown, Irreplaceable by Beyonce, and Take a Bow by Rihanna are just some of the examples of R&B music which topped the billboard in the mid-2000s and these singers were also the most successful R&B acts of the decade.

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© Billboard

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