Hip Hop and R&B

Hip Hop and R&B: What’s The Difference

When it comes to music, there are many genres this art consists of. There are several genres, from pop, jazz, and hip hop to R&B, rap, and classical. Nowadays, people’s favorite genres or music forms are hip hop and R&B. The African- American communities discover both music forms, but some significant differences somehow exist. Most contemporary hip hop and R&B artists find so many similarities in these music genres but don’t know exactly what the differences are. Undoubtedly these are commonly confusing genres, but no worries, we are here to clear all your confusion. This article explains how hip hop and R&B are different. 

Understanding R&B

R&B stands for Rhythm and Blues, a music genre founded by Black Americans in the 1940s. R&B is derived from jazz, gospel, folk, and traditional blues music and combines rock n roll. Since its creation, R&B music has continuously been refined and groomed by several artists. Today, its widely popular among worldwide music lovers and artists. Contemporary R&B is mainly driven by synthesizers, keyboards, strong bass lines, and looped drum beats. In this context, it is similar to hip hop and differs from rock music. It’s also an alternative to typical pop music. Contemporary R&B is one of the successful commercial genres of the modern music industry, and most hip hop and R&B artists enjoy making music of this genre.

Understanding Hip Hop

Black Americans also developed the hip hop genre in the 1970s, mainly characterized by a robust rhythmic beat and a rapping vocal track. Most Black Americans believe hip hop music is more like a “culture” than a music genre. The four main pillars of hip hop include DJing, breakdancing (usually called breaking or b-boying), rapping (also called MCing), and graffiti. In recent years, hip hop has birthed dozens of subgenres, including grime, trap, gangsta rap, crunk, rap rock, chillhop, nimble rap, bounce, conscious hip hop, and Latin hip hop. Today, numerous famous hip hop artists are creating wonderful hip hop music and winning the hearts of many hip hop lovers. 

Hip Hop And R&B Comparision

Most upcoming hip-hop artists and upcoming R&B artists get confused when asked about the difference between hip hop and R&B genres. However, they are aware of some similarities between these two music forms, like the similar type of beats and instrumental rhythms. The artists’ singing styles and vocals are the main things that make hip hop and RB different. In R&B, artists use a melodic approach, whereas, in hip hop, they use the rap style and focus highly on the flow of words they are uttering, not the melody. 

To better understand the difference between these two genres, let’s read the following four aspects that distinguish hip hop and R&B.

Rapping Vs Singing Style

Singing style is an essential factor that makes both music genres unalike. One significant difference is that hip hop artists rap and focus highly on the flow of words they speak. At the same time, the R&B artist’s entire focus is on the melody and rhythm creation and virtuosity in the song vocals. 

Different Song Subjects

The song subjects and emotions of R&B and hip hop songs are also often distinct. R&B songs primarily consist wide variety of topics, including loss, heartbreak, love, affection, and others. On the other hand, hip hop songs are more like a story, and there is always a message behind the song but in a lighter and tamer way. Hip hop songs are comparatively more intense; also, artists use hip hop to express the cruel realities of the world openly.


Because of the usage of similar instruments in hip hop and R&B, people find it hard to distinguish the difference. However, it can become easier to find dissimilarities by paying attention to the instruments. Likewise, R&B songs include bass guitars, drums, synthesizers, and keyboards. While in hip hop, a comparatively higher amount of synthesizers and digital instruments are used. The hip hop artist also considers sound effects and background vocals as part of the song’s instrumental track, also called a sample.

Song Composition and Structure

Hip hop structure is way more unique than the structure of R&B songs, as R&B songs are all about focusing on pop music and popular jazz. Also, R&B songs consist of two verses separated by a chorus, and there is a bridge after the second chorus. In contrast, hip hop songs possess unique verses, but sometimes you can witness a repeating chorus that aids ideally in breaking up the lyrics of the song.