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Hip Hop vs. R&B: What’s the Difference?

Muhammad Mukhtar profile
4 min read Oct 28, 2020

Hey! If you like music then we already have something in common :relaxed:️ I enjoy…

Hip Hop Vs R And B

Music is an art form that has been divided into several genres. Some artists make pop music; others make Hip Hop, R&B, rock, and many more. But over the last few decades, the distinction between the different genres has decreased, and often, people have a hard time telling the difference between genres. Two commonly confused genres are Hip Hop vs. R&B. This article explains how Hip Hop and R&B are different.

Hip Hop vs. R&B

Hip Hop and R&B are confused with one another primarily because of the type of beats and instrumental rhythms used. The paramount quality that differentiates R&B from Hip Hop is the vocals and the singing style of the artist. In R&B, singers go for a very melodic approach, but in Hip Hop, the ‘Rap’ style is used in which the singer focuses on the flow of the words they speak rather than the melody. Still confused? Don’t worry, just keep on reading!

There are many different aspects of a song that help a person determine its genre. These aspects include the song structure, the instruments used, the style of singing, and many more. We will be breaking down Hip Hop and R&B songs to show you how exactly are they different.

R&B Songs

Rhythm and Blues (R&B) is a genre of music that was created by the African American community several decades ago, but it has now branched out to the rest of the world as well. The modern R&B, or more commonly known as the contemporary R&B, is considered to be an alternative to typical pop music. Many artists make music of this genre, including some very popular names like Beyoncé, Michael Jackson, and Usher. This type of music focuses a lot on the melody of the vocals sung by the artist.

Hip Hop Songs

The Hip Hop genre was also originated in the African American community. Hip Hop is considered to be more of a “culture” than a musical genre. This culture includes various aspects like beatbox, graffiti, DJ’ing, fashion, and most importantly, rap. Rapping is basically a music style where the artist speaks rhymes on the beat of a rhythm. Eminem, Cardi B, and Kendrick Lamar are a few famous rappers.

4 Differences between Hip Hop and R&B

1. Style of Singing vs Rapping

This is the most significant difference between Hip Hop and R&B style music. In R&B, the main focus of the artists is to create melody and virtuosity in the vocals of the song. Hip Hop is totally the opposite because, in Hip Hop, the artist talks out the poetry of the song with a smooth and fast flow.

2. Subject of the Song Are Often Distinct

The subjects and the emotions behind Hip Hop and R&B songs are also very different. R&B songs are about a wide variety of subjects, like love, affection, loss, heartbreak, etc. But the common thing is that the message behind the songs is usually lighter and tamer in intensity. Hip Hop songs are a lot more intense, with the artists expressing the cruel realities and truths of the world a lot more openly as compared to R&B.

3. Instruments Used to Create the Rhythm

The instruments used are generally why most people cannot distinguish the difference between Hip Hop and R & B. With a little more attention in identifying this, it can become one of the more prominent distinctions. Typical R & B songs often include drums, bass guitars, and synthesizers, and keyboards. Hip Hop songs have a significantly higher amount of synthesizer and digital instrumentation as compared to R&B songs, which makes it easier to distinguish between the two. Hip Hop artists also use background vocals and sound effects as part of the song’s instrumental track. Better known as samples

4. Structure and Composition of Song

The structure of the R&B songs varies significantly from that of Hip Hop songs. R&B songs primarily follow suit with popular jazz and pop music, having two verses, separated by a chorus, and then a bridge after the second chorus. Hip Hop songs do not have distinct verses but sometimes have a repeating chorus that helps break up the lyrics.

What is Contemporary R&B?

Nowadays, a new genre is commonly seen in the music world known as Contemporary R&B. The existence of this genre is one of the main reasons why the line between Hip Hop and R&B has blurred so much in the last few decades. Contemporary R&B consists of some aspects of the original Rhythm and Blues with added Pop and Hip Hop music elements. So in this style of music, the beat and instrumental are very similar to Hip Hop songs. In contrast, the vocals are very melodic, like rhythm and blues. This makes it a fusion of Hip Hop and R&B. Many artists nowadays have started making use of this genre. This is why even Billboard decided to merge the two genres in their Top R&B/Hip Hop decade lists.

The artists featured in that list are famous in both the Hip Hop and R & B world. Drake, for example, has albums of both the Hip Hop as well as contemporary R&B genre. His album “Scorpion” illustrates his diverse talent and interest in the two genres.

Beyoncé is also an artist who is known for stepping into multiple genres at the same time. In fact, she became the first artist to get Grammy nominations for four different genres at the same time!

This shows that artists are not limited to one single genre. Genres often get fused and merged together, making it difficult for people to identify one or the other. But I hope this article cleared out the difference between Hip Hop and R&B for you guys!

Tags: Hip Hop R&B Rap Singing