Pictured clockwise from top left: Singers Teyana Taylor, Jhené Aiko, Kehlani and Summer Walker cover Billboard‘s R&B/Hip-Hop Power Players issue.
All four ladies say the music industry is adapting slowly to their varying talents and, as a result, they don’t get the radio airplay that their rap counterparts, such as Cardi B, enjoy.
R&B’s marketshare is not as big as hip-hop, but it’s growing — by 4.64% in market share compared with this time last year.
“Everyone has their own style and thing going on, but it’s all the same truth,” says Taylor, 29. “We’re still women who have experienced love and heartbreak. It’s dope to hear everyone express that truth in their different ways.”
Aiko, a woman of color, says the biggest obstacle for her genre of pop/hip-hop is getting radio play. “The industry will still pigeonhole [my music], saying, ‘Oh, this has to go to urban,'” says Aiko. “I’m like, ‘Why?'”
But kehlani, 25, sees opportunity for her style of R&B/hip-hop to grow. “R&B keeps evolving, keeps getting cooler, more personal,” she says.
“We’ll always be here,” says Taylor. “R&B is always going to be the realest bitch in the world.”