Bringing R&B to the Streets: New Jack Swing

Listening to the hard hitting beats of the streets with Hip Hop ambassadors such as Big Daddy Kane, Ice T, Biggie and Tupac gave you a glimpse into the inner city in the 80’s and 90’s. The Crack Era and the conditions and the aftereffects of the Reagan Era had fostered a feeling, style, and music that was hard and tough. Hip Hop had no problem keeping it “street.” However, R&B with deep roots in the church, had maintained a softer side.

In the late 80’s into the mid 1990s all this would change. Producer Teddy Riley and big boss man Andre Harrell fused and cleverly marketed and sexy street sound dubbed “New Jack Swing.” New Jack Swing was the baby of R&B and Hip Hop. Hence the black shades and boots of Jodeci, the R&B thug lyrics of R. Kelly, the aggressiveness of Aaron Hall and the wild style of Bobby Brown. This fusion of hard beats and beautiful melodies has continued through the sounds of artists such as Trey Songz, Chris Brown, T- Pain, and Mario.

Original New Jack Swingers

Teddy Riley – Mr. Riley helped to create the New Jack Swing sound. He would go on to lead the groups Guy and Blackstreet. “I define the term [new jack swing] as a new kid on the block who’s swinging it,” states Riley.

Jodeci – The attitude, sound and fashion of Jodeci transformed how we looked at the R&B artists. This group helped to blur the lines between R&B and Hip Hop and gave R&B that thug “appeal.” With classics like “Come and Talk to Me” and “Feenin,” they truly redefined the male R&B group.

Aaron Hall – This member of Guy(Teddy Riley, Aaron Hall & Damion Hall) and frequent bicycle short wearing crooner(1990s) lent his voice to hits such as “I Like” and “Piece of My Heart” (Mr. Hall allegedly accused R. Kelly of taking his style.)

Bobby Brown
– In the 1980’s Bobby Brown formally of the boy group New Edition became the “Prince of R&B”. Mr. Brown followed a break up with New Edition with “Don’t Be Cruel”, “Roni”, “Every Little Step”, and “My Prerogative.” Don’t Be Cruel ranked #8 in the US Top 100 and #1 in the US R&B charts.

R. Kelly – Member of Public Announcement, Mr. Kelly helped to bring us songs like “She’s Got That Vibe” and “Honey Dip.” He went on to become an R&B living legend dropping countless bedroom classics.
—— By: Deyior Dunbar


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