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New Jack Swing

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And these are only a fraction of the hitmakers. Top: Bobby Brown, Guy, Tony! Toni! Toné!. Center: Boyz II Men. Bottom: Jodeci, Johnny Gill, Bell Biv DeVoe.
Primary Stylistic Influences:

Secondary Stylistic Influences:

"Our music is mentally hip-hop, smoothed out on the R&B tip, with a pop feel appeal to it."
Bell Biv DeVoe, quoted on the cover of their debut album, Poison

New Jack Swing is a fusion genre of R&B, Hip Hop, Disco and Funk that was created in the mid-eighties by a variety of African-American artists and producers. New jack swing is characterized by a distinctive funky swing rhythm, which was produced using a digital synthesizer (typically a Yamaha DX7) and drum machine (typically a Roland TR-808).

There's been debate as to who actually started the genre, but most fans of the genre agree the blueprint started with three music producers: The Minneapolis-based Flyte Tyme team (Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis) and Harlem, New York-based Teddy Riley.

Many of Teddy Riley's earliest productions for New York based rappers such as Slick Rick and Kool Moe Dee were noted for their unique swinging beats and melodies, which were uncommon at the time in hip hop. Meanwhile, Jam & Lewis, after being sacked from The Time by Prince in 1983, took The Minneapolis Sound made famous by their former boss and added smoother R&B stylings and hip hop influenced drums, using this style to create hits for the SOS Band, Alexander O'Neal and Cherelle. But it was Control, their 1986 collaboration with Janet Jackson that created the musical style that would eventually be known as "new jack swing".

The timeline of the new jack swing era's peak years is generally agreed to have coincided with the The Golden Age of Hip Hop (1987-1994), with the first true new jack album being Keith Sweat's Make It Last Forever, released in November 1987. During its peak years, R&B and hip hop artists alike flocked to to the new jack sound, with varying degrees of success. Male artists such as Al B. Sure!, Bobby Brown and Big Bub were given a more "streetwise" edge thanks to the genre's hard hitting drum beats, while rappers jumped on it to appeal to a wider audience (or, in the case of LL Cool J, be more effective at making rap ballads).

By the early 1990s, new jack swing had hit its ultimate peak. Movies like New Jack City and House Party were influenced by the sound and style it had created. Not even Michael Jackson could turn a blind eye at its popularity, and enlisted Teddy Riley's services for Dangerous, and Jam & Lewis' later for HIStory: Past, Present, and Future -- Book I. The genre even crossed over to Korea and Japan of all places: it influenced a great deal of K-Pop and J-Pop artists, such as Park Mi Kyung, Toshinobu Kubota, and SMAP. It also had a strong influence on Japanese video game music of the time; the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise prominently featured the new jack sound, with Sonic 3 & Knuckles having music from Michael Jackson's team on the Sonic the Hedgehog 3 side.

Of course, with its popularity, backlash was inevitable. Many hardcore and alternative rappers had taken shots at new jack swing rappers for "whitewashing" the core message of hip hop just to get radio airplay. One such insult from A Tribe Called Quest on their track "Jazz (We've Got)" led to new jack rap group Wreckx-N-Effect beating the holy hell out of Tribe member Q-Tip outside of a New York nightclub. And while new jack swing remained popular into the early nineties, Grunge and G-Funk soon overtook it, being considered the more "authentic" sound than the pop-influenced R&B sound of new jack swing.

By 1995, the new jack sound was considered outdated by many, but the genre still survived until 1997, succeeded by its spiritual successors Hip Hop Soul and Neo Soul, which remain popular today. The last hit single to use the classic new jack swing sound was Michael Jackson's "Blood On The Dance Floor", released in 1997. Despite its decline in the US, it remained moderately popular in Asia, continuing to inform pop and video game music to an extent up through the early 2000s, rubbing off a bit on western composers as well during that time.

In the mid-2000s, new jack swing started making a comeback, fueled by the Teddy Riley-led "New Jack Reunion Tour" in 2006, as well as VH1's Hip Hop Honors paying tribute to the genre in 2007. The New '10s saw the genre make a return to the charts, with Paramore's "Ain't It Fun" and Bruno Mars' "That's What I Like" and "Finesse" all hitting the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 between 2014 and 2018. New jack swing also made its return to mainstream video games with the release of Sonic Mania in 2017. New jack swing's heavy influence on K-Pop also helped fuel it's revival further during the western K-Pop boom of the 2010s. Coincidentally, Teddy Riley himself personally had a hand in producing for several K-music acts during this period.

The Other Wiki has a comprehensive list of all the artists who've dabbled in New Jack Swing at one point or another.

A similar genre is City Pop, a Japanese music genre from the early-to-mid-1980s that anticipated the sounds of new jack swing in the late 1980s. For example, "Strange Love" (1984) by Haruomi Hosono and "City Dreams From Tokyo" (1986) by Hideki Saijo could be considered Ur Examples of new jack swing. The similarities arose due to both genres having similar influences, combining African-American funk with Japanese electronic instruments (notably the Yamaha DX7 and Roland TR-808).

Notable new jack swing albums:

  • 2 Hype (Kid 'N Play, 1988)
  • 24K Magic (Bruno Mars, 2016) note 
  • 2Pacalypse Now (Tupac Shakur, 1991)
  • Act Like You Know (MC Lyte, 1991)
  • Affairs of the Heart (Jody Watley, 1991)
  • Affection (Lisa Stansfield, 1989)
  • Age Ain't Nothing But a Number (Aaliyah, 1994)
  • All About Girls (Da Freshmen, 1994)
  • All or Nothing (Milli Vanilli, 1988; re-released a year later as Girl You Know It's True in the US)
  • Attitude (Troop, 1989)
  • Back From Hell (Run–D.M.C., 1990)
  • Back on the Block (Quincy Jones, 1990)
  • Beach of the War Goddess (Caron Wheeler, 1993)
  • The Beat, the Rhyme, the Noise (Wee Papa Girl Rappers, 1988)
  • Bedtime Stories (Madonna, 1994)
  • Big Tyme (Heavy D, 1989)
  • Black Reign (Queen Latifah, 1993)
  • Blackstreet (Blackstreet, 1994)
  • Black's Magic (Salt-N-Peppa, 1990)
  • Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix (Michael Jackson, 1997)
  • Bobby (Bobby Brown, 1992)
  • Born Into the 90's (R. Kelly, 1992)
  • Born to Sing (En Vouge, 1990)
  • Brown Sugar (D'Angelo, 1995)
  • Bulletproof Heart (Grace Jones, 1989)
  • Candy Rain (Soul 4 Real, 1995)
  • Changes (Christopher Williams, 1992)
  • A Closer Look (Babyface, 1990)
  • Chuckii (Chuckii Booker, 1989)
  • Club Classics Vol. 1 (Soul II Soul, 1989; known as Keep on Movin in North America)
  • Code Red (DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, 1993)
  • Cooleyhighharmony (Boyz II Men, 1991)
  • Control (Janet Jackson, 1986)
  • Conversation Peace (Stevie Wonder, 1995)
  • Crash (The Human League, 1986; notably produced by Janet Jackson's production team)
  • Damian Dame (Damian Dame, 1991)
  • Dangerous (Michael Jackson, 1991; currently the best-selling new jack swing album of all time)
  • Diamonds and Pearls (Prince & The New Power Generation, 1991)
  • Diamonds in the Raw (The S.O.S. Band, 1989)
  • Dimensions of Double R&B (MCJ & Cool G, 1995)
  • Diary of a Mad Band (Jodeci, 1993)
  • Don't Be Cruel (Bobby Brown, 1988; was the best selling new jack swing album until the release of Michael Jackson's Dangerous)
  • Doo-Bop (Miles Davis, released posthumously in 1992)
  • Dragon's Heart (Jackie Chan, 1996) note 
  • Erotica (Madonna, 1992)
  • Face The Music (New Kids On The Block, 1994)
  • Face The Nation (Kid 'N Play, 1991)
  • Faithful (Hi-Five, 1993)
  • Father's Day (Father MC, 1990)
  • Fever for da Flavor (H-Town, 1993)
  • For the Cool in You (Babyface, 1993)
  • The Force Behind the Power (Diana Ross, 1991)
  • Forever My Lady (Jodeci, 1991)
  • Free (Prince Markie Dee & The Soul Convention, 1992)
  • Funhouse (Kid 'N Play, 1990)
  • Funke, Funke Wisdom (Kool Moe Dee, 1991)
  • The Future (Guy, 1991)
  • Gems (Patti LaBelle, 1994)
  • Growing (Rina Chinen, 1998)
  • Guy (Guy, 1988)
  • Hard or Smooth (Wreckx-N-Effect, 1992)
  • The Harlem Sessions (Teddy Riley, 1996)
  • Hearsay (Alexander O'Neal, 1987)
  • Help (Timmy Gatling, 1989)
  • Heartbreak (New Edition, 1988)
  • Heritage (Earth, Wind & Fire, 1990)
  • Hey Man, Smell My Finger (George Clinton, 1993)
  • Hi-Five (Hi-Five, 1990)
  • High Hat (Boy George, 1989)
  • HIStory: Past, Present, and Future -- Book I (Michael Jackson, 1995)
  • Homebase (DJ Jazzy Jeff And The Fresh Prince, 1991)
  • Honesty (Junior Giscombe, 1995)
  • How Ya Like Me Now (Kool Moe Dee, 1987)
  • II D Extreme (II D Extreme, 1992)
  • I'm Real (James Brown, 1988)
  • In Effect Mode (Al B. Sure!, 1988)
  • Intimacy (Jody Watley, 1994)
  • Invitation to Love (The Deele, 1993)
  • Is That the Way? (M.I.N.D., 1992)
  • It Takes Two (Rob Base & DJ EZ-Rock, 1988)
  • It's About Time (SWV, 1992)
  • It's a Big Daddy Thing (Big Daddy Kane, 1989)
  • Ivory (Teena Marie, 1990)
  • Jamaican Funk: Canadian Style (Michie Mee & L.A. Sunshine, 1991)
  • Jane Child (Jane Child, 1989)
  • janet. (Janet Jackson, 1993)
  • Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 (Janet Jackson, 1989)
  • Jasmine Guy (Jasmine Guy, 1990)
  • Johnny Gill (Johnny Gill, 1990)
  • Just Coolin' (LeVert, 1988)
  • Jungle Fever Soundtrack (Stevie Wonder, 1991)
  • Keep It Comin' (Keith Sweat, 1991)
  • Keep It Goin' On (Hi-Five, 1992)
  • Kool Moe Dee (Kool Moe Dee, 1986)
  • Knowledge Is King (Kool Moe Dee, 1989)
  • Larger Than Life (Jody Watley, 1989)
  • Let's Get to It (Kylie Minogue, 1991)
  • Livin' Large (Heavy D, 1987)
  • Look How Long (Loose Ends, 1990)
  • Love's Alright (Eddie Murphy, 1993)
  • The Lover in Me (Sheena Easton, 1988)
  • Lovers Lane (MC Brains, 1992)
  • Make It Last Forever (Keith Sweat, 1987)
  • Mama Said Knock You Out (LL Cool J, 1990)
  • Men At Large (Men At Large, 1992)
  • Millennium (Earth, Wind & Fire, 1993)
  • Music from the New World (Bryan Loren, 1992)
  • Nickle Bag of Swing (Teddy Riley, 1994)
  • Niice 'N Wiild (Chuckii Booker, 1992)
  • Nuttin But Love (Heavy D, 1994)
  • Ooooooooh... On the TLC Tip! (TLC, 1992)
  • On Our Worst Behaviour (Immature, 1992)
  • One of Many Nights (The S.O.S. Band, 1991)
  • Passion Play (Teena Marie, 1994)
  • Peaceful Journey (Heavy D, 1991)
  • Peep This (Jamie Foxx, 1994)
  • Personal (Men Of Vizion, 1996)
  • Peter Andre (Peter Andre, 1993)
  • Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em (MC Hammer, 1990)
  • Poetic Justice Soundtrack (various artists, 1993)
  • Poison (Bell Biv DeVoe, 1990)
  • Portrait (Portrait, 1992)
  • Private Times... And The Whole 9! (Al B. Sure!, 1990)
  • Q's Jook Joint (Quincy Jones, 1995)
  • R.I.F. (Rappin' Is Fundamental, 1990)
  • Ralph Tresvant (Ralph Tresvant, 1990)
  • Raw Like Sushi (Neneh Cherry, 1989)
  • The Red Tape (DJ Quik, 1987)
  • The Revival (Tony! Toni! Toné!, 1990)
  • Riff (Riff, 1991)
  • The Real Chuckeeboo (Loose Ends, 1988)
  • Return of the Mack (Mark Morrison, 1996)
  • Rob & Fab (Rob & Fab, 1992)
  • Rope-A-Dope Style (LeVert, 1990)
  • Rhythm & Romance (The System, 1989)
  • Seal (Seal, 1991)
  • Secrets Of Flying (Johnny Kemp, 1987)
  • Sexy Versus (Al B. Sure!, 1992)
  • A Shade Of Red (Redhead Kingpin And The F.B.I., 1988)
  • SMAP 001 (SMAP, 1992)
  • SMAP 002 (SMAP, 1992)
  • So Listen (MCJ & Cool G, 1990)
  • Sons of Soul (Tony! Toni! Toné!, 1993)
  • Stand Strong (Junior Giscombe, 1990)
  • Sunshine, Moonlight (Toshinobu Kubota, 1995)
  • Straight Outta Hell's Kitchen (Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, 1991)
  • Symphony in Effect (Maestro Fresh Wes, 1989)
  • T.E.V.I.N. (Tevin Campbell, 1991)
  • Take Me Higher (Diana Ross, 1995)
  • There's Nothing Like This (Omar, 1990)
  • This Is How We Do It (Montell Jordan, 1995)
  • To Whom It May Concern (Riff, 1994)
  • Too Legit 2 Quit (MC Hammer, 1991)
  • Troop (Troop, 1988)
  • Unbreakable (Don-E, 1992)
  • Usher (Usher, 1995)
  • Very Necessary (Salt-N-Peppa, 1993)
  • Vol 2: 1990 - A New Decade (Soul II Soul, 1990)
  • What Comes Naturally (Sheena Easton. 1991)
  • What's the 411? (Mary J. Blige, 1992)
  • Who? (Tony! Toni! Toné!, 1988)
  • Winter Gift EP (Zen-La-Rock, 2011)
  • Words from the Genius (The GZA, 1991)
  • Workin' Overtime (Diana Ross, 1989)
  • Wreckx-N-Effect (Wreckx-N-Effect, 1989)
  • You Said (Jermaine Jackson, 1991)
  • La Toya (La Toya Jackson, 1989, also known as You're Gonna Get Rocked!)

Notable record producers:

Video Game soundtracks influenced by or featuring new jack swing music:

Movies influenced by or featuring new jack swing music:

TV shows influenced by or featuring new jack swing music: