Last week in the world of R&B music, one of the genre’s most innovative producers almost tried to kill it with one tweet.
Ok, we’re being a bit dramatic with that statement, but that was the feeling of soul lovers everywhere when veteran music mogul Diddy alluded to the genre being a corpse of its former self, asking his 15.3 million Twitter followers one simple question: “Who killed R&B?”
Diddy’s tweet caused a state-of-the-soul-union of sorts as many have been chiming in over the past few days to weigh in, including the Queen Of Hip-Hop Soul herself, Mary J. Blige. “You can’t kill something that’s in our DNA,” Blige told her industry peer once the convo was brought to IG Live, also telling Diddy later in their virtual one-on-one, “It’s gonna keep transitioning from generation to generation to generation to generation.”
Blige, who made her debut back in 1992, comes to the game as both a student and veteran of contemporary R&B music, a subgenre that’s been steadily evolving as she mentioned prior ever since the progressive soul movement of the early ’70s. The era of hip-hop soul that she reigns over helped introduced elements of boom bap into the mix during the early ’90s, and in the decades since that line defining rap from rhythm & blues has admittedly become quite blurry.
However, trying to identify the “R&B killer” is hard because, well, it’s still very much alive and kicking! Let us take you on a journey through R&B music in 2022 alone so you all can see what we mean.
From the aforementioned R&B queen that celebrated her 30th anniversary this year with a stellar new album, to a future king of soul that back in April became the first Black artist in almost 15 years to win “Album Of The Year” at the GRAMMYs, we salute 10 singers that are currently proving our good friend Diddy simply hasn’t been listening hard enough.
Take a look at 10 of the genre’s brightest musicians killing it in 2022 and proving R&B isn’t dead by a long shot:
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1. MARY J. BLIGE
How could we not start this list off with anyone other than MJB the MVP?! From performing at the Super Bowl to nabbing the BET HER Award earlier this summer for her new album, Good Morning Gorgeous, Mary’s queen status has never been more valid than now.
2. LUCKY DAYE
One listen to his latest album, Candydrip, and you’ll see why everyone is looking at this New Orleans native as the second coming of D’Angelo.
3. ELLA MAI
Riding the wave of R&B and rap the way predecessors like Aaliyah and the aforementioned Blige did in the past, Ella Mai carries on their legacy with beautiful conviction on her new album, Heart On My Sleeve.
4. JAZMINE SULLIVAN
The victory lap that 2022 has been for Jazmine Sullivan following the mainstream success of her 2021 EP Heaux Tales, especially after going unappreciated in the industry for close to a decade, showed the true power of real R&B.
5. STEVE LACY
If anyone was ever close to following in the path laid out by late legend Prince, R&B singer/instrumentalist Steve Lacy might just be the one to step up after releasing his funkadelic new project, Gemini Rights. No wonder “Bad Habit” is currently eating up the Billboard Hot 100 chart!
With plans to release a sequel to his Diamond-selling 2004 R&B masterpiece, Confessions, Usher is making it clear in 2022 that his Las Vegas Residency is just the beginning of a second act in his career. His latest single with the City Girls proves that he fits in perfectly within the new school.
H.E.R.’s official debut last year with Back On My Mind opened doors that won’t be closing anytime soon. Not only did she win both an Oscar and GRAMMY in 2022 for her Judas and the Black Messiah soundtrack single, “Fight For You,” she’ll also soon be starring as Belle in ABC’s live-action production of Beauty and the Beast airing in December.
8. PJ MORTON
The fact that he’s won a GRAMMY at the past four ceremonies should speak for itself, but giving a few spins to Morton’s soulful 2022 album, Watch The Sun, will definitely put his artistry into full perspective.
9. MUNI LONG
After working behind the scenes over the past 10 years by writing some the biggest records for other artists — ever heard “California King Bed”? — Muni Long took the music into her own hands and created success for herself. Her surprising rise proves that R&B still has a few tricks up its sleeve.
10. JON BAPTISE
Breaking a hold-out that hadn’t been seen since Herbie Hancock’s 2008 “Album of the Year” win, Jon Baptiste taking home the night’s top honor for an album labeled as R&B only proves the genre is only reaching new peaks.