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PBR&B: A Trueblue Magazine Mixtape

This mixtape is the first in a series of weekly-ish playlists we’re going to have for you on Truebluemagazine.com on both Spotify and Rdio. We hope you dig them! (Media players and track list after the words)

Alternative RnB. Neo Soul. Indie RnB. R-Neg-B (wtf?). Post-R&B. PBR&B.

The past few years in music have seen an interesting upswing in people pushing the boundaries of what a Rhythm and Blues record can be. From Frank Ocean’s Bret Easton Ellis-esuqe pictures of sexual ambiguity in L.A., to pasty white dudes in tiny bedrooms in Brooklyn, to James Blake and Co. across the pond in England, to massive studios in Toronto completely dusted in cocaine residue (I see you Abel Tesfaye), people are experimenting with the basic structure of R&B and making exciting, original music.

Taking inspiration from artists like Erykah Badu and albums like Andre’ 3000’s The Love Below (Janelle Monae is basically a hybrid of the two), producers and singers are testing the traditional limits of how the genre is defined. The suave, cool-as-hell bravado that was prevalent in the past has shifted to a flawed, “I’m weird”, multi-faceted personality vibe. The partying, seduction and sex are still there, but so is the comedown, and all the loneliness and self-doubt that makes a personality whole. This sort of candor makes for fuller narratives and far more sophisticated characters, and in a lot a ways makes these artists more relateable. One needs only to look at the massive, worldwide success of Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange to see how much people identify with this new sense of openness.

However, this being 2014 and us being on the internet, some have begun bemoaning PBR&B (or whatever) for pigeonholing artists into a sub-genre, or for saying this just means it’s “R&B white people dig”, or at worst, a sort of intellectual and artistic colonialism. There are also, of course, certain sections of music geek-dom who are already rolling their pretentious eyes at the sheer amount of records now coming out that have an R&B flavor to them. The same thing has happened with “indie” (whatever that means) bands making so many dance-influenced records over the past couple of years; some people just have a hard time seeing the art the hold near and dear evolve into something different… which is ridiculous.

But honestly, if you’re busy calling people hipsters because labeling things and people is easier than thinking, or you’re worrying about other people calling you a hipster, you have already failed. It’s music folks- enjoy it and relax. Pour whatever beverage you prefer (or can afford), get lost in these jams and wash some of your troubles and cares away. Because ironic mustache or no, these records and artists aren’t just providing some of the most interesting “Rhythm and Blues” being performed, they’re creating some of the most interesting music being produced today. Period.

What’s in a name anyway?

PBR&B Trueblue Mixtape Track List:
James Blake – “Retrograde”
The Weeknd – “The Morning”
Shy Girls – “Second Heartbeat”
Active Child – “Calling In The Name Of Love”
How To Dress Well – “& It Was U”
Janelle Monae feat. Miguel – “Primetime”
SOHN – “Warnings”
Solange – “Losing You”
Banks – “Warm Water (Snakeships Remix)”
Gayngs – “Crystal Rope”
Frank Ocean – “Lost”
Chromatics – “Lady”
Child Of Lov feat. Damon Albarn – “One Day”
Sisyphus – “Take”
Blood Orange – “Chamakay”
Baths – “You’re My Excuse To Travel”
SOHN – “Artifice”
Benoit Sergio – “Long Neglected Words”
FKA Twigs – “Papi Pacify”
Rhye – “Open”
Shy Girls – “Without”
James Vincent McMorrow – “Cavalier”
How To Dress Well – “Face Again”
Erik Hassle – “Ready For You”

Cover image credit: jointhesearchparty.tumblr.com