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Hip hop soul

Hip hop soul (also known as hip-hop/soul[1] or hip-hop/R&B[2]) is a subgenre of contemporary R&B music, most popular during the early to mid 1990s,[3] which fuses rhythm and blues/gospel singing with hip hop musical production.[3] The subgenre had evolved from a previous R&B subgenre, new jack swing,[4] which had incorporated hip-hop influences into R&B music.[4] By contrast, hip hop soul is, as described in The Encyclopedia of African American Music, "quite literally soul singing over hip hop grooves".[3]

The genre was most popular during the mid 1990s[3] with artists such as Mary J. Blige (known as the "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul"), Jodeci, TLC, R. Kelly, and Montell Jordan.[4] By the late 1990s, hip hop soul would lead to the creation of neo soul,[3][4] which retained the hip-hop and R&B/gospel influences while also adding elements of classic 1970s soul music.[3]


Hip hop soul evolved directly from new jack swing, a form of contemporary R&B popularized by artists and producers such as Teddy Riley and his group Guy, Keith Sweat, and Bobby Brown.[3][5] New jack swing had incorporated elements of hip-hop music—primarily hip-hop-inspired drum tracks and rapped verses[3]—into contemporary R&B music also heavily inspired by the work of Prince. [5] Hip hop soul took the hip-hop/R&B synthesis further by having R&B singers sing directly over the types of sample-heavy backing tracks typically found in contemporary hip-hop recordings.[3][5]

The creation and evolution of hip hop soul led to an increasingly symbiotic relationship between its parent genres.[6][7] Hip hop soul acts presented themselves in styles and personas comparable to those of rappers[2][5]—dressing in hip hop fashions and adopting a tougher image than the traditional pop-friendly personas of R&B artists[2][5] (the existence and popularity of hip hop soul also had the opposite effect on mainstream rappers, who took on some of the elements of the R&B artists' personas to become more palatable to mainstream audiences).[7] The subgenre increased the popularity of R&B music among the younger hip-hop audience, leading to better sales and airplay success for hip hop soul recordings versus previous forms of post-disco R&B, on the Billboard pop music sales charts.[8] It also increased the popularity of hip-hop music and culture with older audiences and corporations looking to market urban music.[1] However, the creation of hip hop soul has been argued by music journalists and fans of R&B music to have "killed off" traditional styles of R&B.[7]


File:Mary J. Blige 2.jpg
R&B singer Mary J. Blige is known as the "queen of hip hop soul" due to her frequent collaborations with rappers and hip hop producers.[9][10]

The term "hip hop soul" is attributed to record producer and later rapper Sean "Puffy" Combs,[1] who came up with the term during the promotion of What's the 411?, the 1992 debut album of Uptown Records artist Mary J. Blige.[1] Blige was promoted by the company as the "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul", and her debut album, primarily produced by Combs, was filled with mid-tempo R&B ballads sung over hip-hop beats and samples.[1] Similarly, Diary of a Mad Band (1993), the second album from another Uptown act, Jodeci, featured the four-man male vocal group moving away from its new jack swing origins into hip hop soul recordings driven more by hip-hop rhythms than melodies.[5] A large number of male acts, both solo performers and groups, followed or competed with Jodeci, among them R. Kelly, 112, Tony! Toni! Toné![8] and Blackstreet, a second group formed by Teddy Riley.[5]

Hip hop soul artist Montell Jordan was the first R&B singer signed to hip-hop record label Def Jam Recordings;[2] his 1995 hit "This Is How We Do It", built around a sample of Slick Rick's 1989 hip-hop single "Children's Story",[6] typified the sound of the subgenre. Another key recording is "I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need to Get By", a 1995 duet between Wu-Tang rapper method Man and Mary J. Blige which interpolated Method Man's rapped verses with Blige singing a cover of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell's "You're All I Need to Get By".[11] "I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need to Get By" won the 1996 Grammy Award for Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.[5]

The female vocal group TLC, made up of two singers and a rapper, had, like Jodeci, had their start in new jack swing (dubbed "new jill swing" in their case)[5] with their debut album, Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip (1992). Their second album, Crazysexycool, to which Puffy Combs was a significant contributor, moved the group into the aesthetic of hip hop soul.[2][5] Similar female acts of the time included SWV, Adina Howard,[2] Faith Evans, and Total, the latter two acts signed to Puffy Combs' own label, Bad Boy Entertainment.[5]

Hip hop soul as a distinct subgenre experienced a lull in popularity with the spread of hip-hop influences into more standard R&B music by the end of the 1990s[12] and the emergence of neo soul, an R&B subgenre which blended hip-hop and contemporary R&B with heavier influences from the soul music of the 1960s and 1970s.[3] Examples of neo soul artists include D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, and Lauryn Hill.[5] Several newer artists continued to perform in the hip hop soul subgenre in its original form from the 2000s forward, among them John Legend, Anthony Hamilton, K.Michelle, and Keyshia Cole.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Stout, Steve (July 2–9, 2001). "Share My World: How Mary J. Blige brought glamour to hip-hop and broadened the appeal of urban culture to brand marketers. A new book explains.". Billboard 123 (23): 8*9. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Reynolds, J.R. (June 3, 1995). "Is Hip-Hop’s Growing Dominance of R&B an Evolutionary Step, Or Is It Displacing Traditional Soul Music Altogether?". Billboard 107 (22): 2. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Price, Emmett G. III; Kernodle, Tammy; Maxille, Horace , editors (2010). Encyclopedia of African American Music. ABC-CLIO. pp. 115, 902–903. ISBN 0313341990. 
  4. ^ a b c d Donaldson, Melvin Burke (2007). Hip Hop in American Cinema. Peter Lang. pp. 52–53. ISBN 082046345-0. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Gardner, Elysa (1999). "Hip-Hop Soul". In Light, Alan. The Vibe History of Hip-Hop (1st ed.). Three Rivers Press. pp. 307–317. 
  6. ^ a b Ernest Baker, Alysa Lechner, David Drake, Insanul Ahmed, Tannis Spencer (19 Mar 2013). "The 50 Best R&B Songs That Flipped Rap Beats". Complex. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c Van Nguyen, Dean (13 Nov 2011). "The R&B Renaissance". PopMatters. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Owen, Frank (Dec 1993 – Jan 1994). "The Year in R&B: QUIET STORM". Vibe. pp. 70–73. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  9. ^ Reeves, Marcus (2009), Somebody Scream!: Rap Music's Rise to Prominence in the Aftershock of Black Power, Macmillan, pp. 143, 185, ISBN 978-0-86547-997-5 
  10. ^ "Universally known as the 'Queen of Hip Hop Soul' because of her frequent collaborations with rap artists and Hip Hop producers..." in" Bynoe, Yvonne (2006), Encyclopedia of rap and hip-hop culture, Greenwood Press, p. 32, ISBN 978-0-313-33058-2 
  11. ^ Neal, Mark Anthony (2013). What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture. Routledge. p. 156. 
  12. ^ Kenon, Marci (June 3, 2000). "Hip Hop: It's Here to Stay, OK?". Billboard 112 (23): 42.