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Adult Contemporary R&B

Adult contemporary R&B is a form of post-soul R&B that places equal emphasis on songcraft and sophistication. As the use of drum machines, synthesizers, and sequencers dominated R&B-rooted music throughout the '80s, '90s, and early 2000s, making much of the genre producer-oriented and palatable to pop radio and younger clubbing audiences, adult contemporary R&B tended to take most of its cues from the more refined strains of '70s soul, such as smooth soul, Philly soul, and quiet storm. Classic songwriting touches and organic-leaning instrumentation, often featuring string arrangements and horn charts, were constants, but that didn't mean adult contemporary R&B remained static throughout the decades, or that it even stuck to a purist's definition of proper R&B. In the '80s alone, lush jazz-R&B fusion (George Benson, Patti Austin, Al Jarreau) and urbanely stylish crossover R&B (Anita Baker and Luther Vandross, as well as new jack swing ballads from younger artists, like New Edition and Keith Sweat) were equally successful within the mainstream. In the '90s and early 2000s, artists as sonically contrasting as R. Kelly (mainly ballads) and Jill Scott both fit the bill, provided the audience for the material was mature. By riding and contributing to nearly all of the trends, no one has exemplified the style more than Babyface, whose career thrived over 20 years as a member of the Deele ("Two Occasions"), a solo artist ("Whip Appeal," "When Can I See You"), and a songwriter/producer (Toni Braxton's "Breathe Again," Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love to You").