Once again, we’ve been accosted by discourse about the current state of R&B. Despite his status as an elder statesman in hip hop and R&B, billionaire mogul Diddy decided to take to Twitter last week to ask the public: “Who killed R&B?”
He received many responses, including accusations that the exploitative contracts he had his artists sign played a role in the demise of the genre. Whatever his sincere intentions were, it bears repeating — again — that R&B is alive and well. It may not be as popular on the airwaves as it was in its 90s heydey, and you may have to search a little harder to find it (which is what people probably mean when they say R&B is dead) but there are artists like Ari Lennox, Summer Walker, SZA, Kehlani, Chloe x Halle, Doechii, Jazmine Sullivan, and countless others who continue to hold down the beloved genre.
xoNecole has compiled a list of five up-and-coming artists to know who are making R&B for the new generation of listeners.
With nearly 10 million views on Youtube and 400k+ monthly listeners on Spotify, the Chicago based singer Sonta has cited artists like Mary J. Blige, Lauryn Hill and Beyoncé as influences for her sound. On her song “Flaws and All” that incorporates a sample of Nivea’s “Complicated,” Sonta has deftly brought the early 2000s flavor while maintaining a modern sensibility to her music.
Fans of artists like Kehlani, Mahalia or Joyce Wrice will love London-born artist Tiana Blake. Citing Brandy as one of her main influences, Blake is definitely interested in preserving the R&B of the 90s and 00s. With songs such as the MNEK-produced “Interrupted,” Blake definitely deserves a spot on your R&B playlist.
Earlier this year, Pitchfork rated Amber Mark’s debut album Three Dimensions Deep an eight out of ten, referring to the project as “energetic, lush, and measured.” The singer who split her childhood between Germany, Nepal, India, and then finally New York has brought her eclectic rearing into her experimental and genre pushing music grounded in the R&B genre.
While still in the early stage of her career, Kaywht has already proven to have an immense amount of promise with her song “Pity.” Already the Dallas, Texas based singer and songwriter has amassed over 47K+ monthly listeners on Spotify, accruing a million plus streams on the song “11:30 Interlude” alone. If you haven’t heard the name Kaywht before now, get familiar.
As another one of Toronto, Canada’s great musical exports, Savannah Re’s sultry and silky voice paired with her cool demeanor brings to mind the likes of Aaliyah and early Mary J. Blige. Once described as one of Toronto’s “best-kept secrets,” Re has made her mark on the music world, being named Spotify’s Equal Canada Ambassador, landing a billboard in Time Square, getting a SZA and Timbaland co-sign, and being featured in commercials for Google Pixel — if you aren’t already listening to this Canadian songtress, you are far behind.
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