Now that it has been put out that I’m something of a New Jack Swing expert (haha! thanks, Lisa) :), I guess I’ve got to choose a song from that era for today’s Morning Groove. I figure, what better song than the one most people consider the first big New Jack Swing hit.
“I Want Her,” Keith Sweat’s debut single, is today’s Morning Groove.
Sweat had been singing in nightclubs in his native New York at night while working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange by day. He was eventually discovered and signed a recording contract with Elektra Records in 1987. While working on his debut album, he teamed up with Teddy Riley, himself a member of the group Guy and one of the architects of the sound that would come to be known as New Jack Swing. What the duo came up with has been considered the first classic album (Make It Last Forever) and song (“I Want Her”) of the new style.
The song exploded on radio, becoming a top 5 Pop hit and a #1 R&B smash early in 1988. The album produced three more hits, including the song my buddy featured in her #RomanticTuesday post yesterday. To these ears, it is his best work; though he has had many R&B hits after it, the song and album stand up as an enduring work. Teddy Riley would produce Guy’s debut album and in 1988, the group made the second classic New Jack Swing album.
For those who don’t know, New Jack Swing was a subgenre of R&B that fused traditional R&B elements with hip-hop beats and dance grooves, although ballads were also included in the style. Those often had harder backbeats than the typical R&B slow jams up to that point. However, in the course of a few years, a lot of uninspired songs using the framework that Sweat and Riley helped create managed to drive the style out of the forefront of R&B. However, it isn’t completely extinguished; you can hear elements of it in songs even today. But it all started with today’s Morning Groove.
Enjoy “I Want Her”; if you have any memories or impressions about the New Jack Swing era, please leave them in the comments. As always, thanks for reading and listening.