No. 4: New jack swing

    At the risk of moving on from the early-’80s new-wave revival directly into late-’80s retro-trending, new jack swing, sometimes called swingbeat, deserves some serious reconsideration. Almost single-handedly popularized and perfected by Guy and Blackstreet mastermind Teddy Riley, the style merged old-school hip-hop beats and commercial R&B vocals. The amazing thing about Riley’s work, along with that of his most loyal disciples, is how despite the dated nature of the production, the cheesiness of the subject matters, and the bright, bright clothing, the music is simultaneously catchy and artfully crafted. Its loose compositions seem odd in a conventional pop context, but every track has a sweet spot that is carefully arranged and delivered for maximum immediate and repeat pleasure. Listening to this music with an open mind makes it hard to wonder why it ever went away: Fortunately, non-singles from the excellent new Amerie album and others are taking a great deal of the best of this music and updating it. We hope the next few years will see more of this, but for now, it’s all about the originals.


    [more:]Prefix Podcast 4: New Jack Swing (Right Click Save As)[audio:]


    Bell Biv DeVoe

    Poison [MCA, 1990]









    “Cool It Now”

    New Edition

    New Edition [MCA, 1984]










    “I Want Her”

    Keith Sweat

    Make It Last Forever [Elektra, 1987]










    “My Prerogative”

    Bobby Brown

    Don’t Be Cruel [MCA, 1988]










    “I Like”


    Guy [MCA, 1988]










    “New Jack Swing” (featuring Teddy Riley)


    Wrecks-N-Effect [Motown, 1989]










    “We Got Our Own Thang”

    Heavy D & the Boyz

    Big Tyme [Uptown, 1989]










    “Do the Right Thing” (U.S. radio mix)

    Redhead Kingpin & The F.B.I.

    A Shade of Red [Virgin, 1989]










    “I’m Dreamin'”

    Christopher Williams

    Changes [Uptown, 1992]












    It’s About Time [RCA, 1992]










    “Remember the Time”

    Michael Jackson

    Dangerous [Epic, 1992]










    “No Diggity”


    Another Level [Interscope, 1996]