Alternative R&B | Genius

About Alternative R&B

Alternative R&B is a contemporary off-shoot of R&B, or rhythm and blues. It may include unconventional or dark lyrics and themes, and interpolate elements of EDM, rock, pop, and other genres.

The terminology has been met with disdain from some artists, including FKA twigs in an interview with the Guardian:

Fuck alternative R&B! […] It’s just because I’m mixed race […] When I first released music and no one knew what I looked like, I would read comments like: ‘I’ve never heard anything like this before, it’s not in a genre.’ And then my picture came out six months later, now she’s an R&B singer.

Frank Ocean echoed a similar sentiment in The Quietus about wanting to create music without being pigeon-holed into a genre because of his race:

If you’re a singer and you’re black, you’re an R&B artist. Period. […] Especially if [“Novacane”] was embodied in an album like Nostalgia, Ultra and I was your complexion, and I sang that whole collection, people would listen to it and be like ‘Yeah, he borrowed from R&B but it’s not just R&B – it’s a lot of things, and you can’t just call it R&B’.

The genre may also be referred to as hipster R&B or PBR&B (named after the hipster beer Pabst Blue Ribbon), often jokingly or ironically.


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