The Twisted Soul of Experimental RnB
The R&B landscape in the 2010s is rich and expansive — and now a new generation of musicians is forcing soul into unheard-of mutations. Experimental RnB is feeling more and more like alt-culture’s new normal.
Experimental RnB, otherwise known as Alternative RnB, indie RnB, hipster RnB, PBRnB, or R-Neg-B, is a genre with abstract titles and extravagantly pretty melodies – like chillwave meets Quiet Storm soul.
Think of futuristic, resonant, yet distinctly experimental music production reminiscent of Timbaland’s seminal work at the turn of the millennium onwards, combined with traditional RnB vocal stylings and subjects of conventional RnB, while combining it with current social and political themes. Sounds like a mouthful, huh?
Characterising Experimental RnB
Trouble is, it’s definitely hard to characterize, and that’s why “experimental soul and RnB” is simply a catch-all term for it – in fact, one would struggle to define what it really sounded like. But as a continuation rather than a revival! As long as the music is this good, that’s fine with us.
With the meaning of RnB changing so drastically over the years, the new wave of experimental R&B has made it a genre almost impossible to define.
Experimental RnB :: The Upstarts
As such, new musical acts performing Experimental RnB with indie sensibilities are springing up all around the globe. These R&B upstarts run the gamut from dramatic (Phlake, Le Son) to breezy (Fuyumi Abe, ORi) to off-kilter (Benbo, Aurora Dee Raynes), and they are simply BRILLIANT!
These artists collaborate with producers whose jarring, idiosyncratic rhythms and sonics, primarily draw on grime and dubstep. Thusly serving to highlight vaporous, etherised vocals and destabilise lyrics about love and sex.
Indie R&B is being upheld by a host of experimentalists unafraid of straying from typical genre conventions and offering something different. While such practice may be steering us further away from the commercial highs reached during the heydays, the talent’s undeniable.
There’s a variety of up-and-coming singers keeping R&B exciting, fusing it with grime, jazz, hip-hop, electro and soul, and ultimately helping to push the genre forward.
No matter how soon this experimental RnB will be on its way out — if the bubble will burst at all — that it’s here now is what’s most interesting. Early influencers such as Drake, Kanye West, The Weeknd and How to Dress Well have spawned an abundance of good, soulful tunes that’s not to be balked at.
Here are our Experimental RnB artists you should be listening to right now…
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- Do What You Do
- Giving Up The Ghost
- Unconditional Rebel
- Dans La Radio
- Placebo Jesus
- Behind Your Back
- Feels Like
- Coller Au Rythme
- Deep Flood
- You And The Ocean
- Through the Walls