Rhythm and blues began as a type of music for African American communities during the 1940s. The term was first used by the record companies who sold the songs. In the early days these albums were only marketed to urban listeners. However, that changed when the sound became more popular.
It featured jazzy base tunes with a heavy beat and elements of rock and roll. The sound was tweaked during the 50s as the genre was commercialised. Pianos, saxophones and backing vocalists were utilised more often. During this early era the lyrics tended to reflect the shared experience of black Americans. Common themes included the search for freedom, economic aspirations and relationship anxieties.
The nature of this genre has changed over the decades. As a result the R&B released by modern artists is very difficult to songs heard during the early days. This is due to infusions of gospel, disco, funk and hip hop. Some music scholars consider rhythm and blues to now be synonymous with pop music. The genre has been diluted by a plethora of different influences. However, this has also allowed it to endure for many decades.