Chance The Rapper, Kehlani, & The Shifting Sound of R&B — with Oak Felder

The sound of R&B is difficult to pin down. Since the 1950s, the label has been used both as a genre and as a catch-all for the entirety of black popular music. Soul, funk, disco and even hip-hop have at times been covered by this R&B umbrella — Billboard has changed how it counts what genres over the years. On Chance The Rapper’s new album, The Big Day, all of these influences come through. He’s not alone. On recent Kehlani’s records for example, 90s R&B and 2000s trap both play a role. But both these artists are a far cry from the 50s R&B sounds of Sam Cooke. To understand how R&B has changed over time, we consult with Trevor Anderson, manager of Billboard’s R&B/Hip Hop chart. Then we speak with R&B super-producer Oak Felder to understand how R&B is progressing and what it might become.

Songs Discussed

  • Chance The Rapper – Hot Shower
  • Chance The Rapper – I Got You
  • Sam Cooke – You Send Me
  • Elvis Presley – Crying In the Chapel
  • The Temptations – I Can’t Get Next To You
  • Mtume – Juicy Fruit
  • Biggie – Juicy
  • Toni Braxton – Breath Again
  • Janet Jackson – That’s The Way Love Goes
  • Boys II Men – I’ll Make Love To You
  • Lauryn Hill – Doo Wop (That Thing)
  • Diddy – I’ll Be Missing You (feat. Faith Evans & 112)
  • Nelly – Dilemma
  • Kehlani – Distraction
  • SWV – Weak
  • Aaron Hall – I Miss You
  • Usher – You Make Me Wanna
  • Brandy – Sit-in Up In My Room
  • Dru Hill – In My Bed
  • Silk – Freak Me
  • Demi Lovato – Sorry Not Sorry
  • Jodeci – Cry For you
  • Mariah Carey – Vision of Love
  • Kehlani Everything Is Yours
  • Chance The Rapper – All Day Long
  • Queen – Fat Bottom Girls
  • Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out

For an in depth history of R&B on Billboard read Chris Molanphy’s feature on Pitchfork