R&B is one of the most important genres in music. The term Rhythm and Blues was coined by music journalist turned music producer, Jerry Wexler. He is an integral part of signing and/or producing acts such as Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and many more. From then, R&B has evolved to subgenres such as contemporary R&B, new jack swing, neo-soul, alternative R&B, etc. So many different artists have come from the genre, but very few have been able to impact. Whether they had a classic album, timeless song, incredible choreography, or an influential taste in fashion. These R&B legends deserve all the recognition and praise for being influential in the game. I asked four good friends of mine to give their list of artists who deserve their flowers. In the fourth and final edition, I ask my friend, Chinaemere, to give me her five most influential R&B artists of all time.
Erykah’s work with the Soulquarians is unmatched. I’m a really big producer junkie and you know when an artist knows their music has a good ear. Artists like Erykah feel the music.
Marvin’s ear is out of this world. I saw a video of him rehearsing with this band for the song “I Want You” and it was unbelievable. The way the band started and how he slid in and started singing was amazing. I watched that video for three weeks straight. Unfortunately, his life was cut so short. We got to see him at his height, but we didn’t get to see what it would’ve been like going into the future. He’s paved the way for so many R&B male artists. We have to pay homage and give credit where credit is due.
I love Anita’s voice. I remember growing up my dad would tell me that she was rejected from a lot of radio stations and people wouldn’t pick her up because of how deep her voice is. That’s crazy because that’s what makes Anita Baker herself. A lot of us grew up listening to Rapture whether it was our parents, grandparents, etc. It just sounded like what R&B was supposed to be.
He’s the reason why we got the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack. He’s the reason why we have Toni Braxton and Tevin Campbell. He is the quintessential producer and songwriter. When you talk about the Teddy Riley’s, the Rodney Derkins’, or Quincy Jones’, Babyface is the one for me. You can tell when someone has done their homework and I feel like that’s what this generation of music is missing out on when it comes to producing and songwriting. No disrespect, but you can tell who has gone back to previous decades to see what worked and how they can take bits and pieces of it. Babyface learned from those before him and because he learned so well he was able to translate that.
One thing I learned about when it comes to music in the 60s and 70s is that R&B was in a league of their own because they had to create the stuff by themselves. So once we had their music, we could be able to sample the Stevie Wonder’s and Bill Wither’s of the world. Stevie is the starting point of R&B and from there you have a lineage of the genre and subgenres. Stevie is the GOAT.