R&B or Rhythm and Blues is a term that has been used to describe blues-influenced music since the 1930s. The term was coined by Jerry Wexler, influential music producer, for Billboard magazine to indicate the rhythmic beat of the songs combined with the blues-like lyrics- sadness or love. At its beginning, the word was used in replacement for the derogatory term, “race music”, which meant music composed by black artists. However, as time went by, the word assumed a new meaning that was less unflattering and more empowering; black people are considered the pioneers of the R&B genre.

Some defining characteristics of R&B music are the mixed jazz and blues style, the locking together of the drums and bass into a very distinct rhythm. Most R&B songs are centered around the emotions, the feeling of love, pain, the pursuit of happiness and freedom and sex. One important aspect of R&B music is its ability to have a relatively upbeat rhythm accompanied with very passionate lyrics.

For years, R&B music has been an important part of Black culture and artist serve as trailblazers in the Black community. The beats may change but the genre is constant; one can tell the difference between an R&B song and a hip-hop song. The influence of R&B is especially strong due to the similarities of it in other genres. Many rap and hip-hop songs use samples from R&B songs and also incorporate the lyrics from these songs. The genre rock-and-roll was a term coined by white people for their version of black R&B. Many songs by Elvis Presley use the beats and basic rhythm of early R&B songs.

Some notable performers of the genre include The Isley Brothers, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Boys II Men, Mary J. Blige, New Edition, Luther Vandross and many more.

Here are some songs, see which ones you know!