By the 2000s, the cross-pollination between R&B and hip hop had increased to the point where, in most cases, the only prominent difference between a record being a hip hop record or an R&B record was whether its vocals were rapped or sung. Mainstream modern R&B has a sound based more on rhythm than hip hop soul had, and lacks the hardcore and soulful urban “grinding” feel on which hip-hop soul relied. That rhythmic element descends from new jack swing. R&B began to focus more on solo artists rather than groups as the 2000s progressed. As of 2005, the most prominent R&B artists include Usher, Beyoncé (formerly of Destiny’s Child), and Mariah Carey whose music often blurs the line between contemporary R&B and pop.
Soulful R&B continues to be popular, with artists such as Alicia Keys, John Legend, Toni Braxton and American Idol winner Fantasia showcasing classic influences in their work.