Afro R&B: What Is It and Why Is It Being Left Out of the Conversation?

A brief overview of Afro R&B and why it should be getting more recognition.

Everyone knows about R&B, but how familiar are we with Afro R&B? Despite its rising popularity, it seems this subgenre is rarely seen in conversations about R&B, and we think it’s time to change that.

Let’s Talk About the Genre

What is Afro R&B and what sets it apart from traditional R&B? Well, according to KK Casjting, “it’s still a new term artists are using to define their sound and taking ownership to differentiate the generalized genre (Afroswing) they are placed.” Artists like Casjting have been working on their craft and creating these new sounds for a while now, but it has yet to hit the mainstream.

KK Casjting shares his thoughts on Afro R&B with IndustryMe
KK Casjting

Afro R&B manages to combine genres, bringing Afro influences and energy to the emotions and melodies of R&B. At times, this combination can be alienating, and, as Kako-Are points out, “A lot of people usually prefer to listen to and support popular trends.” 

Why is Afro R&B Being Left Out of the Conversation?

Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy for new-ish genres to catch on. For Afro R&B, artist Rebecca Winter believes “it’s not yet perceived as real R&B,” which might explain why the genre is being left out of the conversation. This is also likely the reason Winter feels more of an affinity for the Afrobeats scene as opposed to that of R&B.

Rebecca Winter shares her thoughts on Afro R&B
Rebecca Winter

Casjting says artists worry about “being boxed into a corner or being called too emotional.” He adds, “It can be hard to accept it until you feel totally comfortable and happy with what you create.”

Winter also notes that Afroswing makes it more difficult for Afro R&B or Afro Pop artists remain something distinct:

“[E]verything and everyone is now being classed as Afroswing, making it look like a lot of artists are in the Afrobeats scene when they’re not.”

Casjting acknowledges this difficult as well, saying “The similarities can make it hard to separate the genres, which makes it hard to understand it is meant to bring a different feel to the listener.”

Are listeners part of the problem? Possibly, argues Casjting: “The majority of people want to hear the same exact similar sound, even though you already have an element of the sound in your song. Listeners can become too critical and feel you should sound exactly like another one of their favorite artists when in truth, you just want to be heard and taken for who you are.”

Fortunately, Casjting doesn’t let this get to him: “I am at the point of not caring what people want to classify me as anymore. I am just happy to be able to create music.”

Afro R&B Artists Making Waves

Needless to say, both KK Casjting and Rebecca Winter are beginning to make waves in the Afro R&B genre. 

Winter knows her music brings something to the table: “I can really show people that it is still R&B with Afro influences as shown with a few of my songs.” Those R&B influences can be heard on her latest EP, Rare.

Similarly, Casjting says he offers something different to the conversation: “The story I have to share and the way it is delivered.” He produces his own music, allowing him “more control and freedom to contribute with selective R&B and Afro-influenced elements in [his] songs.” By producing tracks like ‘Smooth Sailing’, ‘Cooling Plotting’, and ‘Call Me’, he understands the importance of creating your own music and discovers things that could possibly be overlooked if only listening to the final product. This process, he says, always gives you something to offer. 

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