Pop, Rap, and R&B musicals include:
Mean Girls Brooklyn In the Heights
Bring It On: The Musical Legally Blonde
Lysistrata Jones Hamilton Holler if Ya Hear Me
The Bombitty Of Errors Altar Boyz
KPOP Everybody's Talking About Jamie
Oscar at the Crown Six On Your Feet!
Clueless, The Musical The Color Purple
The Bodyguard Ghost The Musical
When auditioning for a Pop, R&B, or Rap musical, you will likely be asked to bring in a pop/rock song, and it's your job to know that these musicals live in the lighter side of the musical and emotional palette! Think of artists like Lauryn Hill, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Childish Gambino, and Bruno Mars. They can all do SO MUCH, and they are all so different.
Rap is Hip-Hop, and Hip-Hop is a culture. People often consider Rap and Hip-Hop to be one in the same, but Hip-Hop encapsulates: breakdancing, graffiti, freestyling, fashion, MC-ing and much more. Rap itself is a form of music focused around rhythmic speech and rhyme.
We absolutely cannot talk about contemporary popular music without Latin Pop! The more you listen to Latin pop and appreciate what it feels like to live in this music, the more you will be able to translate this to how you explore Pop music. Watch this video of Latinx performers dancing to JLo's "Dinero"!
Here's a Spotify playlist with Pop, Rap, and R&B cuts for you to listen to. There are so many great tunes to choose from! Once you find one you love, get your incredible Pop, Rap, or R&B tune on Musicnotes!
Picking a Song
When performing a rap song, it is imperative that you rap about things that you know. Please think about your life experiences and listen to the lyrics before you rap a story that is not relatable to you. White People: There are TONS of rap songs about things other than race-related issues. Here's me singing "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore and Lewis, because I rap AND I am VINTAGE (DISCLAIMER: SOME GRAPHIC LANGUAGE!). Those are things I know and understand. What musicals do you think this song would be great for you to audition for?
Technically, R&B (Rhythm & Blues) is a marketing term used to encompass many styles of soul music, like generations of Gospel, Blues, Hip Hop, Jazz, Pop, Neo-Soul, and Disco. Honestly, you name it-- it's in R&B. However, R&B now flavors tons of Pop/Rock music. So there are endless songs to choose from that can give an authentic R&B feel.
Also, we love love love Blue-Eyed Soul. This term is used for R&B singers who are White but who have been steeping in authentic R&B and love and respect the culture and origin of the style. That’s Tori Kelly, Adele, Sam Smith, Jason Mraz, and and my personal favorite, YEBBA!!
Check out this fun video of this artist's 27 Styles of Rapping. Keep in mind there are many more than this! (DISCLAIMER: SOME GRAPHIC LANGUAGE!)
Let’s call back to our conversation about Appropriation vs. Appreciation back in Motown. For White musical theatre people who rap, it is important to not change the way you speak to fit your idea of ‘Rap Culture’. We’re talking Italian Ariana Grande speaking as if she was raised in Black Culture instead of using the voice she naturally spoke with in interviews before she rose to fame. No, really. I love her too but go look. Be sure to use your voice to rap this story with YOUR inflections, not Nicki Minaj's, for example. Here's a fantastic example of appreciation: Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake's History of Rap! Take note of how they were influenced by other artists but did not steal.
Considering you've learned to sing with your whole soul and you understand your place in relation to the culture and the origin of this music, what would you rap or sing about? What would you report about?
Remember there’s a fine line between appropriation and putting on someone else’s culture as a costume and finding material that represents you in an honest and personal way!
Ground yourself in the world of the show that you’re auditioning for and base your vocal, physical, and stylistic presence off of that.
We don’t want imitations of what you think you should sound like, look like, or act like - as always, be YOU!
Hip-Hop Style for reference rather than ‘costume ideas’!
Examples / References
Here is a DELICIOUS video of me showing some great rapping techniques that make sense to musical theatre performers with my friend, Tom Burke.
Now for some incredible Hip-Hop choreography by Tricia Miranda and the great Bruno Mars performing all his BEST dance breaks! Also, get a LOAD of how FUN this '90s Hip-Hop dancing is!
Tank and the Bangas are a true combination of everything we need right now: Rap, Blues, R&B, Jazz, Spoken Word, and ultimately playfulness. Please enjoy this twenty minute Tiny Desk Concert hosted by NPR. They will lift your spirits ABOVE and beyond.
Fun Fact: Hip-Hop was born out of Disco. The Get Down was a wonderful series on Netflix that explained its history, including the Bronx Fires, and how people of color took the two turntables from the disco and brought them out to the streets to give them an outlet for expression. For now, watching the trailer will give you a brief understanding of this.
I also love Straight Outta Compton for source material on West Coast Rap! Lastly, there is nothing better than hearing first-hand experiences to learn about Hip-Hop as a culture. Check out the trailer for the Hip-Hop Evolution.
Watch Pop, Rap, and R&B Classes Below