October 30, 2008

Gold: New Jack Swing

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Remember Johnny Kemp? Hi-Five? Father MC? Basic Black?
No? Well, here’s your chance to catch up.
These artists, along with others like the better-known Keith Sweat, Guy and Bobby Brown, performed a style of R&B called “New Jack Swing.” Born at right about the same time as most of us were (in the late ’80s), New Jack Swing represented the moment that the hip-hop generation claimed R&B as its own.
This long-overdue compilation finally gives this music the credit it deserves. Collected here are consummate examples of the genre like Guy’s “Groove Me,” Weckx-N-Effect’s “Rump Shaker,” featuring a young Pharrell, Color Me Badd’s glorious “I Wanna Sex You Up” and plenty of forgotten classics.
You might not know the names of all these performers, but the robotic rhythms, synth squiggles and histrionic harmonies on display throughout these two discs are the origin points of today’s most cutting-edge pop, R&B and hip-hop styles.