The past few years have created a new wave of R&B in a post-Drake era. Drake has a propensity for juggling singing and rapping in his tracks, and Alternative R&B reflects the ripples his combination has had on the soundwaves.
Meshing R&B and hip-hop elements is becoming more and more commonplace in the music scene, and while it was further popularized by Views, Drake is certainly not the only artist leading the charge or creating the trends.
No longer do we need rappers to feature on songs to bring in a hip hop element an artist seemingly lacks (although collabs are still welcomingly rampant). Instead, someone like Tory Lanez can be the entire feature, further establishing R&B and hip hop as vastly fluid genres. This evolution is just broadening the potential tools, styles and tricks to draw from.
As Miguel put it to The Guardian, the term indie R&B insinuates “more artistic delivery of rhythm and blues music. It suggests there's more artistry within a genre that has become more of a cliche of itself.” Despite its meteoric rise in popularity, the polarizing genre still manages to rub some the wrong way.
Rather than pigeonholing artists or assigning them an obscure label, the distinction of alternative R&B is instead an elevation from what’s been done before and a suggestion and promise that there are more evolutions to come. Just like alternative rock or alternative folk, it opens the door for creativity.
In a time that R&B could have reverted to former styles, it instead transformed into an entirely new genre. But more than anything, and irrespective of terms and labels, it just provides us with a new vehicle for sultry R&B and hip hop to combine and create a refreshing, chill vibe exemplified best by the artists here.