Over Christmas I listened to a great 3 part BBC 6 Music documentary on the history of Funk hosted by Pam Grier. Somewhere near the end they covered Prince and the Minneapolis Funk scene that sprouted up around him. A lot of it gets lost amidst the mighty shadow of time cast by the purple and paisley popster himself but there’s some great acts from that time such as The Time, Sheena Easton and The Jets.
Two of the biggest artists to have stepped out of that period however, were the producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and it was whilst revisiting some of their classics (and also some Ready For The World) that I found myself dipping back into one of my first proper musical loves, New Jack Swing.
Now I say first musical loves and that’s not strictly true, I was a massive music fan from an early age but my outlook was generally limited to whatever was in the charts. It wasn’t til the late 80s when Hip-hop, Reggae, House / New York Garage and New Jack Swing started to grace the charts more heavily that I would be lead off down more exciting and less travelled paths. New Jack Swing may have only lasted for a brief period that seems to be largely forgotten about now but as the first solid and cohesive fusion of Hip-hop and RnB (there were admittedly a few Electro Funk, Breakdance, Boogie + even RnB pop tunes that had married the two before hand) it’s everlasting legacy has been undeniable.
I decided to do a little mix just whilst I was excited by it all again, it’s just a little fun thing really and not quite tight enough for me to put up on Mixcloud but if you fancy busting out some Running Man moves in the kitchen then here’s a download link.
I purposefully kept a couple of my favourites back. The mix isn’t meant as anything approaching a comprehensive history, there’s no ‘Poison’ or ‘My Prerogative’ and there’s not even any Guy, Father MC, Jodeci or R Kelly, but there are a few classics in there from the likes of Keith Sweat, Bubba and Redhead Kingpin. There’s also tracks such as Joey B Ellis’ ‘Thought You Were The One’ from the Rocky V (yes really) soundtrack which didn’t get much play in Cardiff but is still a classic in my eyes. Plus tracks such as ‘Live & Learn’, ‘Rhythm Nation’ and ‘If I Had No Loot’ (whose Ice Cube sample provides the name of the mix) that I don’t think I would even have considered as New Jack Swing at the time (perhaps Swingbeat as it became known.. or rather more confusingly, just Swing) but they definitely seem to fit the mould looking back.
These last few were the kind of tunes that provided the soundtrack to my first club outings at spots such as The Loop, Libertys and Lloyds in Cardiff (I only went to clubs beginning with L back then it seemed) in the early 90s and they sound just as good now as they did then.
In amongst these old school tunes is one new tune from a Cardiff producer called I S L A N D which he was kind enough to send me recently. See if you can spot it.