Last night, UK girl group FLO guest starred on “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon” and performed their hit single “Fly Girl.” As they rise to fame, the Destiny’s Child comparisons have emerged, but let social media tell it, R&B is dead. Given the separation from the church and the presence of auto-tunes and trap drums, the genre has become distinguishable from its core sound. Yet, with the talent of emerging and established female artists, the R in R&B might stand for revival.
For example, “Fly Girl,” featured Missy Elliot and perfectly satisfied FLO’s Y2K aesthetic. The Missy feature created the the ideal Y2K feel since her voice was a staple of 2000s hits. Really, the girl group takes up the mantle left behind by the hitmakers of Destiny’s Child.
However, they alone cannot keep R&B alive.
Their peers such as Coco Jones and Chloe Bailey are also bringing value back to the genre. Jones, whose song ICU is now entering the Hot 100, will be the singer’s first to do so. Additionally, she is a Princess Tiana hopeful as Disney plans the live-action film for their print Black princess. With her vocals, the songstress is solidifying herself as a princess of R&B as well.
Chloe has made a name for herself as a solo artist too. One half of the duo ChloexHalle, she has released several singles demonstrating her unique found sound as she prepares her debut album, In Pieces. Her latest single, “Body Do” is a fun 80s vibe that reminds listeners that there is a place for pop music in R&B.
For the fans of more traditional R&B, artists like Victoria Monet and Tems offer a familiar sound that still has a contemporary feel. Victoria Monet’s “Smoke” track with Lucky Daye is the perfect blunt rotation ballad. Monet’s melodic hook fits well with the beat and gives the feel of a perfectly rolled blunt. Then, she passes the song to her feature Lucky Daye, and he matches her bravado.
Monet is not a newbie to the R&B scene, but she is criminally underrated although she makes the type of music people claim to crave. Nonetheless, she has developed a niche fan base who recognize her impact.
Another R&B artist who’s gaining steam is Tems. When she covered Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry” for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, she received an Oscar nomination for her performance. Really, her strong tonality captured the strength it took to cope with the loss of Chadwick Boseman; her deep, emotional singing voice echoed the pain we all felt when he died.
Although she didn’t win the Oscar, her nomination was a reminder that she is putting Afro beats (and R&B for that matter) on the map.
Whether it’s FLO standing in as Destiny’s new children, Chloe tapping into an 80s vibe, Coco Jones affixing her musical crown, or Victoria Monet and Tems breathing life in us through their powerful voices, it’s clear that R&B is not dead because Black women are keeping it alive.