XI :: New Jack (and Jill) Swing
By Mark Abraham | 8 October 2007
For people of my generation or thereabouts who listened to this stuff at every sock hop and dance they attended between 1988-1995, new jack (or jill) swing provided our public cultural soundtrack. The grunge revolution, excepting maybe “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” was nowhere to be seen at dances. And while it’s easy to dismiss this shit in favor of the hip hop that came before or after, I’d make arguments.
Second, just think how weird it was to be 13 and 14 and hearing tracks like “Creep” and “Let’s Talk About Sex” and “Waterfalls” and “None of Your Business.” Though many of the men involved in new jack swing were performing the usual industry-accepted amount of sexism (“never trust a big butt and a smile”) the women were creating incredibly progressive music that we were being exposed to on a regular basis. I’m not saying we got it, necessarily, but I bet there aren’t many people of my generation who couldn’t still drop the lyrics to “Let’s Talk About Sex” if asked, which is pretty fucking impressive given the fear of AIDS at the time. Here’s a little tribute to some of the best/most fun tracks from this period.