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 R&B, indie R&B, hipster R&B, PBR&B, or R-Neg-B, is a genre with abstract titles and extravagantly pretty melodies – like chillwave meets Quiet Storm soul. Think of each track as an R&B record. But as a continuation rather than a revival!
With the meaning of R&B changing so drastically over the years, the new wave of experimental R&B has made it a genre almost impossible to define. As long as the music is this good, that’s fine with us.
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, Emilie Ramirez) to breezy (Fuyumi Abe, ORi) to off-kilter (Benbo, Clarence Clarity), and they are LEGEND!
These artists collaborate with producers whose jarring, idiosyncratic rhythms and sonics, drawing on grime and dubstep, 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 of the late 90s/early 2000s, the talent’s undeniable and 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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- Giving Up The Ghost
- Porn Mountain
- Unconditional Rebel
- No Trespass
- Placebo Jesus
- Behind Your Back
- Feels Like
- Wear Your Demons Out