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Contemporary R&B

Music genre
NameContemporary R&B
Stylistic originsFunk Soul pop hip hop R&B
Cultural originsEarly 1980s North America; New York City, Los Angeles, Montreal, Atlanta, Chicago, Toronto, Houston
Typical instrumentsSynthesizers Keyboard Drum machine
Mainstream popularityModerate since 1980s worldwide, Mainstream in the 2000s especially in the United States
SubgenresQuiet storm
Fusion genresNew jack swing Hip hop soul Neo soul 2-step Rhythm & grime Crunk & B Snap & B
Other topicsMusicians

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Contemporary R&B (also known as simply R&B) is a music genre that combines elements of hip hop, soul, R&B and funk.

Although the abbreviation “R&B” originates from traditional rhythm and blues music, today the term R&B is most often used to describe a style of African American music originating after the demise of disco in the 1980s. Some sources refer to the style as urban contemporary (the name of the radio format that plays hip hop and contemporary R&B).

Contemporary R&B has a polished record production style, drum machine-backed rhythms, an occasional saxophone-laced beat to give a jazz feel (mostly common in contemporary R&B songs prior to the year 1995), and a smooth, lush style of vocal arrangement. Electronic influences are becoming an increasing trend, and the use of hip hop or dance inspired beats are typical, although the roughness and grit inherent in hip hop may be reduced and smoothed out. Contemporary R&B vocalists are often known for their use of melisma, popularized by vocalists such as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.


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