Where Black music, style and dance took a stranglehold on the charts and in popular culture.
“I could really care less about what they think about me, but at the same time, I do have something to prove."– Bobby Brown
A sub-genre of R&B that took a stranglehold on the charts for approximately a decade, New Jack Swing was developed out of the New York City underground Black Club Scene in the mid-1980’s, much like Rap and Disco before it. It was primarily a producer-driven format, spearheaded by Teddy Riley and the production team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. As Rap proved to still be several years away from mainstream acceptance, New Jack Swing, which encompassed not just music, but dance and clothing styles as well, became the defacto programming of choice on Black stations, eventually seeping into the Pop mainstream in a very big way by early 1989.
New Jack Swing, as a music form, emphasized tight rhythms, repetitive beats, a heavy emphasis on the bass and an upfront and unapologetic attitude toward sex, including being open about the rising number of HIV-related new cases in the Black community. This was nowhere more evident than with female groups like TLC and Salt-N-Pepa, the former who wore condoms on their clothing, both recorded pro-safe-sex public service announcements and album tracks addressing the issue with the latter.
TLC (l-r) Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, , Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins. Photographer unknown, LaFace Records publicity shot, courtesy of Sony/BMG.
Even artists that normally would never have figured into this new type of underground music style could not help but record songs in it. Patti LaBelle, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston are just three of numerous “old school” acts that took heed of the new format. It is also significant to note that this was the last major music genre to be represented on Soul Train while founder Don Cornelius was host, passing the torch to programs like In Living Color, that seemed steeped in the Black youth culture, look and attitude of the day.
Our tracks this week: Title, Group, LP Source
1. Feels Good, Tony! Toni! Toné!, The Revival
2. I Want Her, Keith Sweat, Make It Last Forever
3. What About Your Friends, TLC, Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip
4. Groove Me, Guy, Guy
5. I’m So Into You, SWV, It’s About Time
6. Just Got Paid, Johnny Kemp, Secrets of Flying
7. My Name Is Not Susan, Whitney Houston, I’m Your Baby Tonight
8. Rump Shaker, Wreckx-N-Effect, Hard or Smooth
9. My Prerogative, Bobby Brown, Don’t Be Cruel
10. Rub You The Right Way (single mix), Johnny Gill, Johnny Gill
11. Poison, Bell Biv DeVoe, Poison
Love to you all.
Ben “Bear” Brown Jr., owner
Ace of Spades PDX
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