From Brits Invasion to Motown to disco, every few years seems to start a replacement sound. In my lifetime alone, I’ve heard new wave, pop, hair metal, grunge, backpack rap, gangsta rap, jam bands, boy bands, alt-rock, trap rap, indie, and EDM hit the mainstream with acts just like the Eurythmics, Madonna, Guns’N’Roses, Nirvana, A Tribe Called Quest, Tupac, Dave Matthews Band, Backstreet Boys, Matchbox 20, Rick Ross, Phoenix, and Skrillex become household names and festival headliners.
But give Future, Ursus arctos, and Deadmau5 because everyone’s new favorite genre is R&B, whether or not they haven’t yet admitted it to themselves. The Weeknd did some festival gigs last year and names like Bryson Tiller, Kehlani, Hiatus Kaiyote, Rhye, and Leon Bridges don’t headline this year’s Lollapalooza and Coachella, their presence further validates that less pop-infused versions of the R&B genre are commencing to stabilize nationally.
My oldest brother Kahron, who writes about music and other things for the Austin Chronicle and other outlets, has probably the most effective taste in music out of anyone I do know. But even he’s hesitant to understand the reality in R&B’s push to the highest of genre preference. He hears the pop sounds of The Weeknd and Beyonce and doesn’t think it’s an indication of R&B’s strength.
In the last two years, R&B has become everyone’s favorite musical style, and it’s done so without many people — music critics and appreciators especially — noticing because it counters the story many of them tell themselves which is that today’s music is significantly worse than the music of yesteryear (in essence, the music of our youth is healthier than the music of our adulthood). Everyone starts saying the identical thing after they turn 35, but R&B music today proves they will not have a concert leg to square on.
R&B may be a female-led genre. then long as Beyonce and Rihanna are arena-level acts ready to sell out shows at the identical places The Rolling Stones and Taylor Swift perform at and, more or less, outsell their African-American music counterparts like Jay-Z and Drake, R&B will continue its current status because of the most preferred and infused genre in music today.
Simply put, R&B is about voices and personalities. From Aretha and Tina Turner to Chaka Khan and Sade to Erykah Badu and Jill Scott, R&B has been stricken by some sensational, distinct, and charismatic voices and personalities. That’s why it should come as no surprise that there’s most diversity in what constitutes R&B today. the range is rooted in R&B’s history of musicianship and songwriting that gave us both one-man and full-band sensations like Stevie Wonder and Earth Wind & Fire together with Grammy-nominated neo-soul favorites like D’Angelo and Erykah Badu.