I was talking to my best friend earlier today, and the subject of R&B music came up. My friend said that he had always wanted to get more into R&B, but he had one problem. With such a huge and daunting history, he didn’t know where to start, or how to separate the truly great from the forgettable.

With that in mind, I’ve culled the vast history of rhythm and blues – stretching from the very beginnings of the genre with Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, all the way to the present day – and condensed it into a 36-song intro course I like to call R&B 101. While no one playlist can truly represent the broad scope and history of R&B, I’ve attempted to pull selections from all the major eras of the genre in chronological order, to give the listener a sense of the changes R&B has gone through… and where it may be headed next. Enjoy on Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube below.

(Note: Due to rights issues, Maxwell’s “Pretty Wings” is absent from the Apple Music version of the playlist. All other songs are present.)





Apple Music playlist