Is R&B a genre?
Is gospel a genre?
Are hip-hop groups musicians?
The first, and arguably most interesting question, might never be answered. The word “genre” is just a meaningless name for a vague grouping of genres, so it is pointless or even wrong to try to label any musical group. Some groups seem to have a greater “brand” than others and that brand is very influential. I would not try to label the British electronic, soul, rock and jazz genres as any kind of “genre,” because it is far too subjective and subjectively-defined to define any “genre” at all. The labels I generally use in this article — “rap,” “R&B,” “hip-hop” — are not designed to indicate a particular sound or approach, but rather are part of a rather broad, and usually misleading, classification system.
“R&B” can be used to describe a variety of electronic groups and artists but it is far from the most common classification for music. There are R&B musicians and groups and styles that are distinct from what we think of as rap: For example, “R&B” does not necessarily refer to a particular style or type of music. So how can r&bists or R&B producers be called rap artists?
The answer can be found in the fact that “R&B” only refers to the style of music and not the overall subject matter represented (although, if you listen carefully, you’ll see these similarities within the same genre). There are plenty of examples of both “real” and “created” rap from the mid 1960s on — even before the term was used as a genre, it was just the style. From this, it seems that “R&B” would have included much of the same history and tradition as “real” rap music, but the fact of it being created by “real” producers would mean that the terms “created” and “rap” had essentially become blurred. Even so, it seems reasonable to assume that it was a term that did not have a strict definition in terms of “rap”—a term used just for the style.
“R&B” is not a specific type of music but rather is a type of sound. It is defined in terms of a variety of distinct sounds and styles. The music and artists are grouped by style and genre, but it might be more accurate to have “R&B”