The Alternative R&B Music and Life-Style Online Digital Publication
2019 Volume 1, Issue Number 1

Alternative R&B Music


WHAT IS ALTERNATIVE R&B MUSIC? Alternative R&B music is a music genre that developed in the 1990’s. The Alternative R&B genre is non-traditional R&B music that, combines some traditional R&B (soul and funk) musical elements and contemporary lyrics with elements ranging from rock, reggae, neo-soul, electronic, metal, and punk music that is performed by mostly African American independent musical performing and recording artists in America today which emerged from independent African American musician led rock, reggae, funk, metal and R&B bands and independent music scene of the 1980’s and 1990’s, and which arose after the influence of Bob Marley and the Wailers first successful full tour the, “Kava Tour” of the USA in 1975.


The term “alternative R&B” music was first used in 1997 by Kedar Massenburg, an American record producer and record label executive, who was the president of Motown Records from 1997 to 2004. Massenburg is also notable for coining the term “neo-soul” and he is also responsible for signing singer Erykah Badu in 1995 to her first major recording contract, and managing the musical career of neo-soul singer, D'Angelo.


Alternative R&B is a musical sound punctuated by hard-edged rock electric guitar slicks, heavy bass grooves, some dub effects, electronic keyboards sounds, which emphasizes reggae one drop rhythms and skanks often with political, spirituality, and social lyrics, and features prominently live music making instruments that disguised the genre from traditional Rhythm & Blues (post-disco version of soul music), Urban (producer-driven, radio format, hooks, contemporary urban and post-disco version of soul music), and Hop Hop (rap, hip-hop, sampling, and beat box) music. The musician and singers who perform this genre are usually influenced by rock music (Jimi Hendrix, Living Colour, Bad Brains, Authur Lee and Love); punk (2-Tone Movement, Pauline Black, The Specials); Jazz, Faruq Z. Bey, Griot Galaxy, Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM, Chicago); and reggae (Bob Marley and Black Uhuru); African music (Ali Farka Tour, Osibisa, Foday Musa Suso, Baaba Maal, Babatunde Olatunji); and electronics-influenced (Arthur Baker, Portishead, Massive Attack, Kraftwerk, Larry Heard a.k.a. Mr. Fingers, et. al.) musical styles. The music is often self-produced album-oriented recordings and that are distributed at gigs, live shows, festivals, internet, and through informal channels.


The originators of this genre are the bands and singers, ON-XYZ (the original Onyx, not the rap group), Bad Brains, Fishbone, Black Uhruru, KAS (Band Leader/Music Producer,, Vernon Reid, Living Colour, Chuck Brownley, Suburban Dog, Faith, Jelly’s Pierced Tattoo, Bus Boys, Burnt Sugar, Screaming Headless Torsos, D-Xtreme, Dionne Farris, Enemy Squad, The Family Stand, Stephanie McKay, Funkface, Garland Jefferys, Jean-Paul Bourelly, Amel Larrieux, Joi, Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Michael Hill Blues Mob, Nona Hendrix, Body Count, Reese, Rhythm Republik, Sandra St. Victor, SpearheadSoul II Soul, Terence Trent D’Arby (a/k/a Sananda Maitreya), Caron Wheeler, 24-7 Spyz, Felice Rosser (Musician – Bassist with the band, Faith), and Angel Grant.


Some present day creators of Alternative R&B music are, TV on the Radio, Spearhead, Randolph & The Family Band, Radical Thought Resistance, Cipher, Goapele, Algebra, Sparlha Swa, Rasula (formerly Rachid), CX KiDtronik, Erykah Badu, Dead Kennedys, Game Rebellion, Cree Summer, Apollo Heights, Dragonz of Zxnth, Stephanie McKay, Tiombe Lockhart, The Objex, Saul Williams, ON-XYZ, KAS Serenity, Soul Rhythm, Raphael Saadiq, Lucy Pearl, Rahsaan Patterson. Carl Hancock Rux, Res, Blackapalooza (the alternative R&B music tour), the Afro-Punk Movement, and others.


In modern music today Alternative R&B has evolved and includes a new breed of musical artists such as, Muhsinah, Van Hunt, Jesse Boykins III, Peter Hadar, Nikkiya, Other examples of present day alternative R&B musical performing and recording artists who perform this genre are such bands and singers as, Janelle Monae, Santigold, Conya Doss, Cody ChesnuTT, Gary Clark, Jr., Yahzarah, Maiysha, Brooklyn Funk Essentials, and others as well whom feature performing, song writing, and live instrumentation as an integral whole in their music creations.




The Blackapalooza Music Tours from 1995 to 2002 at


SOULOUT Online Digital Magazine, 2008 at


Quote: Blackapalooza has succeeded because it operated outside the mainstream concert system. By: Moira McCormick, Billboard Magazine, Page 20, September 20, 1997.


Black Rock Coalition at:


The Black Rock (Alternative R&B) Timeline. May 1, 2009.



Web Sites, Links, Articles about Alternative R&B Music, R&B, Neo-Soul, Punk, Rock, Reggae and Electronic Music:




"The Black Punk Pioneers Who Made Music History" from Dazed Magazine at:


"Why is the History of Punk Music so White?" from Dazed Magazine at:


"Tinashe Speaks Out Against Music Industry Racism" from Dazed Magazine at:

"Why are the Brit Awards so Overwhelmingly White?" from  at:


“How the Black House Music DJs Shut Themselves Out of the Global House Nation Explosion from Dream Hustle Blog at:


Alternative r&b by at:





Alternative R&B Music in Social Media, Radio, and Youtube:



Black Soul Rhythms at:


Indie Music Network at:


Indie Music Network on at: on at:


Poppapolis America @poppapolis on at:  




Jelly's Pierced Tattoo - Detroit, Michigan, USA



Click Badge Below to Find and Download Music by Alternative R&B Bands and Artists




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