Genres of music are being broken down into very specific, micro classifications due to the tags that taste makers, music bloggers, and critics fabricate to identify a certain styling that has yet to be labeled. At times, it can be difficult to keep up with but, at the same time, they are very fun to explore. Each week, I will explore a different sub-genre and try to explain the stains left on my shirt after climbing out of each tedious rabbit hole of musical stylings.
PBR&B (also known as indie R&B, alternative R&B, or, yikes, urban contemporary) is a relatively new sub-genre that was slapped with this distinction around the time that artists like Frank Ocean, Miguel, How to Dress Well and Theophilus London started to drop material. The sound of PBR&B is more or less defined by an exchange of ideas from several other genres such as EDM, hip-hop, rock and soul. It draws greatly upon the influence of R&B from generations past and filters it through a modern lens. The best examples of this are Ocean’s Channel Orange and How to Dress Well’s Total Loss. The former utilizes a lot of the same style techniques from legends like Marvin Gaye, Al Green in a lush, hip-hop oriented soundscape, while the latter feels more like a Ralph Tresvant record set to Gregorian chants. The artists that represent the sub-genre also diverge from the common theme that dominates the narratives of its standard bearers.