|Cultural origins||Mid-2000s, United States and Canada|
Alternative R&B (also referred to as PBR&B, indie R&B, experimental R&B, and hipster R&B) is a term used by music journalists to describe a stylistic alternative to contemporary R&B.
"Alternative R&B" was once used by the music industry during the late 1990s to market neo soul artists, such as D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, and Maxwell. There has been a variety of discussion about the differing genre terms, with several critics describing the music under the broad category of "alternative R&B" or "indie R&B". The term "hipster R&B" has been commonly used, as has the term "PBR&B"—a combination of "PBR" (the abbreviation for Pabst Blue Ribbon, a beer most recently associated with the hipster subculture) and R&B. The first use of "PBR&B" was on Twitter by Sound of the City writer Eric Harvey on a March 22, 2011 post. Three years later, amazed and distressed at how far the term—meant as a joke—had traveled, Harvey wrote an extensive essay about it for Pitchfork. Slate suggests the name "R-Neg-B". The genre has sometimes been called "noir&B." However, the terms are often criticized for "pigeonholing" artists into hipster subculture and being used in a derisive manner.
Barry Walters of Spin characterizes the unconventional style as an "exchange between EDM, rock, hip hop and R&B's commercial avant-garde," and cites The Weeknd's Beauty Behind the Madness and Thursday, Miguel's Kaleidoscope Dream, Kelela's Hallucinogen, Holy Other's With U, Drake's Take Care and Kenna's Make Sure They See My Face are works associated with alternative R&B.
Brandon Neasman of The Grio observes a "changing of the guard in R&B, from the smooth, cool heartthrobs to these vulnerable, off-kilter personalities" amid the prevalence of social media in society. Neasman finds the subject matter of "these new-wave artists" to be more "relatable" and writes of alternative R&B's characteristics:
[A] lot of the production is echo-laden and lofty, often using a lot of synthesizers and filtered drums—sonically giving a nod to Prince's vintage '80s sound. Additionally, for the most part, it doesn't feel as if these artists are selling sex as their main entrée. Granted, they still sing about the topic, and in explicit detail, but it's in equal proportion to drugs, spirituality and personal philosophies. You don’t get that same diversity in subject matter from the majority of modern R&B singers.
Hermione Hoby of The Guardian writes that "the music is quietly radical" and observes "an ongoing, mutually enriching dialogue between indie and electronic musicians and R&B artists." Gerrick D. Kennedy of the Los Angeles Times feels that "the new movement feels like the most significant stylistic change in R&B since neo soul rolled around in the 1990s." Janet Jackson's sixth studio album The Velvet Rope (1997) is cited as one the genres stylistic origins.
Frank Ocean states that he does not like being called an "R&B" musician and he does not like being confined to one genre. How to Dress Well was not offended by the term "PBR&B", but found it "tacky". Miguel has said that he is "comfortable" with the term "indie R&B" because it "insinuates a higher art. Or a deeper or somehow more artistic delivery of rhythm and blues music. It suggests there's more artistry within a genre that has become more of a cliche of itself."
Eric Harvey, the writer who coined the term, wrote a thorough response to its proliferation, at Pitchfork. FKA Twigs does not like the term; she told The Guardian  "Fuck alternative R&B!" She finds the term racially charged: "When I first released music and no one knew what I looked like, I would read comments like: 'I've never heard anything like this before, it's not in a genre.' And then my picture came out six months later, now she's an R&B singer..." 
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