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Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated to R&B, is a genre of popular African American music that originated in the 1940s.[1] The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a heavy, insistent beat" was becoming more popular.[2]

The term has subsequently had a number of shifts in meaning. In the early 1950s and beyond, the term rhythm and blues was frequently applied to blues records.[3] Starting in the 1960s, after this style of music contributed to the development of rock and roll, the term "R&B" became used to refer to music styles that developed from and incorporated electric blues, as well as gospel and soul music. By the 1970s, rhythm and blues was used as a blanket term for soul and funk. In the 1980s, a newer style of R&B developed, becoming known as contemporary R&B.

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