Is this R&B's return to glory?


Disastrous as this year was politically and emotionally, 2017 was a most triumphant year for R&B.

Angela Yee, radio host of Power 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club,” and Nadeska Alexis, executive producer and moderator of Complex’s “Everyday Struggle,” joined Salon’s Rachel Leah on “Salon Talks” to discuss why 2017 was a stand out year for R&B music.

"What a year!" Alexis said. "Honestly, we didn’t deserve all the R&B we got. There are too many great albums out this year.” The success and acclaim of these albums and artists isn't limited to just fans of the genre, either. The Grammys took notice. In the Best New Artist category, three out of the five performers nominated are from the genre. Two R&B albums are up for Best Album of the Year, and two R&B songs are nominated for Best Record of the Year.

R&B has struggled to find mainstream success since the genre’s explosion into pop music in the 1990s. According to Yee, “R&B artists will tell you it’s really hard for soulful, strictly R&B artists to get signed and to sell those albums that they used to sell.”

Even if a return to the R&B sound and success of the 1990s is slipping away, the prospects are bright for even more evolution and success in 2018. With many differing artistic statements, there’s a newfound freedom in the genre, one that is helping to transform audience and industry perceptions of it.

Watch the clip above to hear Yee and Alexis recap the year in R&B and what the future holds for the genre that experienced a rebirth in 2017.

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