New Jack Swing evolved in the late '80s, when urban contemporary soul artists began incorporating hip-hop rhythms, samples, and production techniques into their sound. Some songs simply had hip-hop beats, others had rapped sections and sung choruses, but the overall result was an edgier, more street-oriented sound that seamlessly blended both the melodic qualities of soul and the funky rhythms of rap. It paved the way for the '90s soul, where the dividing line between rap and R&B was frequently indistinguishable.
New Jack Swing became the first genre of music to seamlessly merge the silky sophistication of contemporary R&B with the inner-city swagger of street savvy Hip-Hop. Youthfully energetic, thoroughly inventive, and vibrantly irresistible, the sound and style of New Jack Swing authoritatively reflected everything that was young, fresh, and new about urban culture at the time.
How New Jack Swing Was Created
New Jack Swing was the style of music that perfected on the synthesized sounds of it's urban predecessor's like Timex Social Club, DeBarge, Gap Band, Cameo, and Club Nouveau (groups that were already flirting with hip-hop rhythms). Producer Teddy Riley not only utilized the instrumentation from his funky influences but borrowed a page or two from a lyrical stand point as well.
Who Created The Name "New Jack
According to legend, the term "New Jack Swing" was originally coined by Barry Michael Cooper - the same journalist who later co-wrote the screenplay to 1991's New Jack City, a project partially inspired by this music.
The New Jack Era
Notably, the New Jack Swing movement also managed to precipitate and briefly sustain a memorable "New Jack Era" that celebrated all things "urban" on many levels of popular culture across the board. Examples of this included feature films (1990's House Party), various fashion statements (i.e. wearing overalls with one strap unbuckled), "high-top fades", and other hairstyles, dance moves like the "running man", and television programs in the vein of "The Arsenio Hall Show", "A Different World", and "In Living Color".
The King Of New Jack Swing
At five, Teddy Riley picked up the guitar and the trumpet. When he turned eight, he began playing piano for the Little Flower Baptist Church. Later, he began playing in bands around New York. After meeting Kool and the Gang member Royal Bayyan, Riley was introduced to the arts of record production and songwriting. Hooking up with Gene Griffin in the mid '80s, Riley's many talents resulted in platinum hits for Guy, Hi-Five, Blackstreet, Al B. Sure, Keith Sweat, Bobby Brown, Today and many more. One of Riley's early productions was Kool Moe Dee's 1986 debut, "I'm Kool Moe Dee," - Riley was just 17 and Deja's 1988 Virgin LP, We Belong Together.
Key Albums & Producers
The key producers were Teddy Riley, Gene Griffin, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, LaFace, Chuckii Booker, Denzil Foster & Thomas McElroy, Dallas Austin, Howie Tee, Timmy Gatling, Hank and Keith Shocklee, Maurice Starr, Dave Hall and DeVante Swing.
The First Wave Of New Jack Artists
Bobby Brown (Don't Be Cruel), Guy (Guy), Keith Sweat (Make It Last Forever), Abstrac' (Abstract), Troop (Troop, Attitude), Johnny Kemp (Secrets of Flying), New Edition (Heart Break), Entouch (All Nite), The Good Girls (All for Your Love), Al B. Sure! (In Effect Mode), Today (Today), Chuckii Booker (Chuckii), Foster & McElroy (Fm 2), LeVert (Just Coolin'), The Boys (Messages from the Boys), Tony Toni Tone (Who?), Alyson Williams (Raw), Mac Band (Mac Band Featuring the McCampbell Brothers), Wrecks-N-Effect (Wrecks-N-Effect), Redhead Kingpin and The F.B.I. (A Shade of Red), Black Flames (Black Flames), ect.
The Second Wave Of New Jack Artists
Bell Biv DeVoe (Poison), Another Bad Creation ( <product no longer available> ), After 7 (After 7), Boyz II Men (Cooleyhighharmony), Samuelle (Living in Black Paradise), Hi-Five (Hi-Five), Tevin Campbell (T.E.V.I.N.), Basic Black (Basic Black), En Vogue (Born to Sing), Jeff Redd (Quiet Storm), Damian Dame (Damian Dame), Chris Bender (Draped), Johnny Gill (Johnny Gill), The U-Krew (The U-Krew), Colin England (Colin England),
Musically, New Jack Swing represents the 'middle passage' of the R&B/Pop music of today and the R&B/Soul of the 70s and 80s that preceded it.