Ridiculous Moments In New Jack Swing.


The New Jack Swing obsession continues!

Maybe I’m getting old, but given the bullshit that’s passing for R&B these days, I’m ready to declare the late 80s/mid-early 90s the new golden age.  Today I’mescaping from the absolute utter madness of what has become my everyday life enjoying some me-time, and have a playlist of NJS stuff (defined here if u need it, for some odd reason) that I’ve been playing while I get my uber-feminine girlness on, and I noticed… there was a lot of ridiculous stuff that happened in/with/concerning these songs and their artists.  I made mental note of a short list, and in no particular order the winners are (this will be a long one, but at least it will be full of good music for u to listen to):

1.  Michel’le’s speaking voice.

I don’t care who you are, it just don’t make no damn sense.  AWESOME singing voice: full, rich, powerful.  I still wish she was recording today.  And maybe she is and I just don’t know it.  Don’t blame me, blame the machine.  At any rate… she sounds like a little kid and I just dont understand it.  I thought for the longest that we were being Mili Vanilli’d again, but nope.  Real deal.

I found this interview on Youtube and even I can’t say with full confidence that her speaking voice hasn’t  been edited.  I mean I know it’s high and insanely squeaky but even this seems a little too much.  But in the vid that follows, the one for her song ‘Nicety,’ I can say for sure that the speaking she does there (check the 0:55 and 1:30 marks) is actually her.

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.3125369&w=425&h=350&fv=]

Fun fact:  she has a daughter fathered by the notorious, batshit Suge Knight.  This means that she had sex with suge knight.  And survived!  She’s also suing him for child support.  Takes a real woman with huge balls to do either of those things successfully.

2. brownstone’s lead singer has flip-top head.


omg.  When I was younger I wanted to be a singer when O grew up, and I used to sing Brownstone’s song’s HARD, like I wrote them myself and would spontaneously combust if I did not scream them as loudly as I could at least once a day. I love them.  gorgeous voices, awesome songs.  and pretty!  Those girls were gorgeous!

But damned if the lead singer couldnt yawn and inhale a Mac truck.

3.  mary j+ k. ci = splitsville :(

Alright, so I’m all for people bettering their lives, cutting out toxic people and things, gettin’ off crack, and all that jazz.  But I’ve said this here before, and though it sounds harsh, I stand by it:  sometimes i wish we had cracked-up Mary back.  It’s true!  I do!!   Man, im sorry, but there ain’t no Mary J. Blige like What’s the 411?/My Life Mary J. Blige.  I happen to think that as a singer she’s just okay, but back then she was sangin. As well as she ever has.  Now?  Bleh.  She’s all happy and sunshiney all the damn time.  Sometimes you want some grit!  some pain!  The kind of grit and pain that only crack and lookin at this man everyday can give you!

I LOVE THIS DAMN SONG.  See?  Sometimes you just need to hear about that kind of crazy, obsessive, self-destructive love.  Happy Mary is runnin’ ’round with broom-straw wigs, makin’ up words like “dancery” and “holleration” and doin’ silly wheelchair dances (1:59 mark) in her videos.

(disclaimer: I really am glad she ain’t killin’ herself no more, I just want her to be happy, yaddah yaddah, blah blah.)

4.  gerald levert writes song about sex for 15 year olds.

If this song is included in the New Jack Swing era, it’s coming in on the tail end.  In 1995, a very young, nubile 702 teamed up with an equally young Subway to sing a song called ‘This Little Game We Play.’  Allow me to share some of the lyrics with you:

I’m thinking about ya
Got me feeling kinda freaky
Girl why you wanna leave me that way
Ooooh(come on)
Talk is cheap(yeah)
Lets get right to it (ooh baby)
Let the fun and games begin
Boy I'm ready to do this

So.  As earlier stated, this song was written by Gerald Levert.  When the song came out, lead singer Kameelah Williams was 17 years old, and the youngest girls in the group, twins Irish and Orish, were 15.  I’m not sure how old the guys were but… does it really matter?  It’s already creepy beyond comfortability. And when you watch the video, those little tiny faces in the midst of all that pubescent grinding and thrusting… just gets creepier.

I sang the hell out of this song, tho.  Still do.  :/

Bonus ridiculousness:  the note that our lead singers hit at the end of the extended version of the song, around the 4:15 mark.  ….No.

5.  shai’s remix:  sexygross!

omg.  I was SO IN LOVE with Garfield from Shai, so much so that i put his picture up here and said ’screw the rest of the group!’  I admit, this was in the midst of my lightskinned-man phase.  He was just so fine, all golden brown and shimmery under that ill-advised 90s s-curl.  YUM!  So naturally, I was a big fan of their music, and luckily, they actually made some really good stuff.  If we’re the same age, then this is the song that all the lil boys who thought they could sing sang in all your middle school talent shows.  It;s still one of my favorite songs originally performed by a group that i enjoy singing by myself (”AAAAAND IFFF I EEEEEV–eveeeeer fall–IN LOOOOOVE A–agaaaaaiiiiiin).

I’m surprised to find that not many people i know remember the remix, though.  I seem to remember it being called like ‘the wet remix’ or somethin slutty like that, and back then im sure it set my little 10-year-old loins ablaze, but in retrospect?  lol.  omg.  It’s terrible!  The harmony seems drunken and off, and all the moans and the sleezy instrumentals goin’ on in the background.. just not a good look.

Tell you what, though: get me in a hotel room alone with Garfield today with this song playin in the background and id get down to it just like some barry white.

Unfortunately, I can’t find the remix on youtube, but you can listen to a snippet here.

6.  aaron hall’s ‘don’t be afraid’:  inappropriate from beginning to end.

This pretty much speaks for itself.  I will supply excerpts of the rapiest lyrics and a  link to the song.  You may supply your own outrage/disgust/’wtf’ faces.

When I lay you down tonight
Ask me to hold you tight
Everything will be alright
Don’t be afraid, baby
When you start to spread some home
And your parts are gone, gone
Let it happen right now

Don’t be afraid, girl

(wait… when my parts are gone??  WHERE ARE MY PARTS GOING?!)

Now I have you all to myself
To put the other guys all on the shelf
No need to run and no need to hide
All the doors are locked baby and I have you inside

You can yell, you can hit me
It just makes me horny
Ain’t nothing but a love thing baby
Between me and you
So just give in baby, don’t worry about a thing

(The doors are locked?  Why are the doors locked, Aaron Hall?  And why does my hesitance to be okay with this situation make you horny??!  NOT OKAY!)

It doesn’t get any better from there.

7. here we go again’ plunges into ‘wtf’ness.

Y’all remember that song ‘here we go again’ by Portrait?  Bangin’ song, right?!  But what are they talkin abt in the middle of it?

Climb a mountain (what mountain)
Swim a sea (what sea)
See what I mean? (no)
I don’t know but I don’t want to get too deep
Oh oh oh…
Here we go again


[vodpod id=Groupvideo.3125443&w=425&h=350&fv=]

8.  johnny gill’s singin faces.

Blu Cantrell (heh!  remember her?) once said that she makes those weird faces when she sings because singing is not a pretty art (um, excuse me but my beautiful boo Garfield and I will disagree with you there). Sometimes it’s rough and gritty and can contort your face just as it can contort your soul (but Jennifer Holiday agrees here).  Maybe that’s why Johnny Gill made them faces he did?

I happen to think that he just has wonky lips that he can’t control very well.  Whatever the case, they are ridiculous all the same.


9.  shanice marries a homeboy from outer space.

This really doesnt have anything to do with music aside from the fact that Shanice, as we should all know, had some bangers in the New Jack Swing era.  It also wouldn’t surprise me if nobody else gave a damn about  this, but it’s important to me because I have a severe dislike of Flex, the man she married.  I just can’t look favorably upon someone who consents to being part of a show called ‘Homeboys in Outerspace.’  It’s just like the way I blacklisted the entire cast of Soul Plane in my life (except for you Kevin Hart.. i dont know how you escaped, but somehow you survived and are still in my good graces).

Freakin Flex??  Come on!!  You can do so much better!

10.  SWV = Christian artists?!

And to finish off the list, I’d like to put on display for you my own stupidity.  The song ‘Weak’ by SWV was one of my faaaaaaavorite songs ever.  I even loved the knockoff version that my local radio station did as a promo (thaaat explains why i loooooove WGZBeeeeee!).  But as I grow older and look back on all these songs, I’m noticing that in a lot of the stuff i used to sing… I didn’t know what the blue hell the artists were saying and have, for a good decade, been singing the wrong words.  ‘Weak’ is one such song.  The part where Coco sings ‘Resistance is down when you’re around/Pride’s fading?’  remember that?

I thought she said:

‘Resistance is down when you’re around/Christ baby’

I was like OMG this song is about Jesus??!??!?!

silly me.  :/

(x-posted from Brokey's spot)

Brokey McPoverty

Brokey McPoverty, aka Tracy Clayton, is a writer and humorist from Louisville, KY. She currently writes for BuzzFeed and lives in Brooklyn. Follow her on Twitter.

Latest posts by Brokey McPoverty (see all)

  • Scipio Africanus

    I hated Brownstone with the passionate intensity of 1000 white hot suns. That whole belting, over-singing, there’s-only-3-of-us-but-we-sound-like-the-Mississippi-Mass-Choir sound, and it’s wild popularity, made me consider turning in my ghetto pass and forging a Kenyan birth cerificate of my very own, when I was 15.

    I was so glad when they disappeared.

  • keke

    Lol…..Nooooo!!!! you can’t be serious! I really loved Brownstone and I thought they had a great sound. I really liked the belting and the powerful singing and I thought it worked for their style of music.

    I really miss them!

  • Scipio Africanus

    I was a teenaged male East Coast oriented Hip-Hop head – it was impossible for me to have had any emotion other than hatred for Brownstone.

  • storm

    This was really FUNNY. Thanks for the chuckles.

    My observations:

    –I agree with you about MJB, up to a point. I love her song “No More Drama” where she coined the word “hateration.” It has a banging beat!
    –Flex has always been corny to me, and I could not tolerate him in that weak-a** show of his “All of Us.”
    –I bet Eddie loves Johnny Gill’s wonky lips. (side-eye)

  • Molly

    Mary J. wrote all of those songs about Jojo!! JOJO!!!! With whom she had an abusive, drug-addled long-term relationship…That blew my mind somehow, like finding out (crossing music genres here) Alanis Morisette wrote “You Oughta Know” about Uncle Joey from Full House…

  • Molly

    from K-Ci and Jojo…not Jojo the teenage girl, lol…

  • storm

    Yup. You are right. Thanks for the correction. I can’t recall the name of that dang awful show with Flex Alexander and adorable Kyla Pratt, who played his daughter.

    BTW, “All of US” was awful too.

  • Key from the City

    Preach! My Life MJB is the best MJB. She has never been a great singer but she sang with such emotion you couldn’t help but feel her. Maybe it says more about us than her but still…I will take My Life over anything else she has put out.

    I loved Brownstone. The last time I saw the lead singer, she was in a Tyler Perry stage play (I think it was Meet the Browns).

    Say what you want about Flex and Shanice, but they have been married for years and don’t hear about them in the media. He seems like a stand up guy.

    LOL @ storm’s comment: ‘I bet Eddie loves Johnny Gill’s wonky lips. (side-eye)’

  • Molly

    oh, I got confusinated :)

  • Brokey, dude. This post is awesome and edifying because I know next to nothing about this era of music. I literally spent ’93-’96 listening to golden oldies radio stations. Like, shoo-bop oldies. True story.

  • ladyfresh

    this is what happens when you skim. i went from new jack swing then you mentioned all those people up there which have nothing to do with new jack swing. fine make me read. *glares*

  • melly

    It was “One on One.” Comes on pretty much every afternoon on BET as I’m leaving for work. Hate it.

  • I loved Portrait with the intensity of a thousand suns, son. <–my bad for the grammar fail.

    I have found that for 90% of the New Jack songs I loved, it was better for me not to pay attention to the words I was singing along to. As a matter of fact, I can hang my head in no small amount of shame for many of the songs that I considered to be "the jam." Can anyone tell me what the heck they were singing about in Candy Rain?

  • LaJane Galt

    I used to love me some Guy & any derivative. I remember Don’t Be Afraid (esp. the e-drums). I do NOT remember the lyrics.

    The real name of that song is “Don’t You walk out on me. You need me Eddieeee”…not my, my, my.

    *dead* @ flip top head. She reminds me of a cute Baraka from MK.

  • miss kate

    @OneChele: and that is why I sort of side-eye my late twenties/early thirties friends when they fuss and stomp and big belly about the music the chirrens is listening to today. I’m like, yes, much of it is stupid and pointless, and devoid of deep intellectual content and political awareness…but really? Can we please seriously revisit what WE were listening to at that age? We were not all listening to deep isht all the time. Did we not pretty much put booty music on the map? And let’s not even get started on the really inappropriate RnB we were bumping.

  • keke

    Gosh, I gotta ask, what is a Chicago accent? I ask because I am from Chicago and we have a pretty neutral tone. Well we do stress the long “A”…it can be harsh at times but I don’t know of us having a distinct accent. And I cannot stand Lisa Raye!….talk about a woman with a bad attitude

    On another note…..I really don’t like the group Guy. I know Teddy Riley ushered in the New Jack Swing sound but I have listened to some Guy songs recently and they just don’t stand the test of time, at least to me. And don’t even get me started on Keith Sweat…..not exactly a New Jack sound but man he has a god-awful voice! I never understood the appeal that he had among black women.

    Now Tone Toni Tony…..they have some bangers! I can listen to their songs to this day and I have fond memories….one of the best groups of the 90s hands down.

  • keke

    Lol….Whaaaat!!! I don’t know if I can agree with that. Well, maybe in a broader context and you are not the only person who has said that so maybe there is a kernel of truth to that statement.

    I will admit that my initial response was from and individual standpoint, particularly because I have been accused of “talking white” for most of my life. But there are times when I will pronounce the word pen as pin, and I have friends and family members who will pronounce the word leg with a long drawl soft e…. So ok, I will bend on that a little bit

    ok,point taken!

  • storm

    G.D. I sooo agree with you. My gf and her family are from Chicago and they have the a countried-sounding accent. My gf, a professional in the corporate world, not so much — but when she gets fired up about something, her drawl slips out. Now, her Mom and her older sis, each have comically thick southern-sounding accents. Honestly, they drawl and slur their speech so much sometimes I need my gf to translate for me (and I’m only half-way joking).

    Her folks originated from the South, so they do still retain traces of that in their way of speaking.

    Me, I’m a New Yawker, so every speaks funny to me — except me, of course.

  • keke

    Yes, living in Chicago my whole life has made it difficult for me to pick up on the “accent”. The way that Storm described it, you would think that we were in the South for real!! I don’t hear that long drawn out southern accent that is heavy or thick, I can hear it in some words as I mentioned in my previous comment.

    Also many Chicagoans will tell you that West siders are much more country than south siders. I live on the West side and I will admit that there are some country folk ’round those parts:-). I don’t really think of myself or my sisters as country and that may be because we grew up on the northwest side of the Chi. So when I moved out on the West side, there was a little culture shock.

    Now when you say Chicago is country, that just sounds so weird to me. When I think of the city of Chicago, country does not come to mind. The surrounding areas of Chicago (suburbs, cities, and towns) are country. When I travel to the burbs or to other areas of the state of Illinois, it’s country as hell! Many people who come from the suburbs and other small towns of Illinois have moved to Chicago. I think that has had a cultural impact on our city as a whole. But I still can’t get down with painting Chicago as country….no way!!

  • MyS

    As soon as we heard ‘You’ll be saying daaadddy to me’ me and sis looked at each other like ‘wtf’? LOL, the beat was nice but the words were very conflicting not to mention hearing the girl singing ‘when you need to scratch and moan’ sorry but I don’t recall guys ever scratching. Hearing it again after all those years makes me picture a RickJames&girlfriend basement situation, lol but NOT good.

  • LaJane Galt

    but all without autotune!!

  • india

    You are sooo funny!! The one that really got me was Aaron Hall but I’m not surprised.When he was with Guy he made that song A Piece of my Love and right before the singing starts I can swear I hear him say the words “dumb bitch”. Listen to it and see if you hera it too.I could be triping

  • liveloveteach

    This just took me down memory lane. All my favorite artists from back in the day. R ‘n B back then was good music. Side note: when you start saying things like this does it mean you’re getting old?

    BTW: I loved Brownstone specifically for that “we’re only three people but we sound like the mississippi mass choir” quality. It satisfied the inner diva that my little 7-8 year old self just couldn’t wait to unleash! Still to this day i’ll put all their youtube videos on and just sing along at top volume. The lead singer had to make that face because that is the only way a powerful sound like that could come out.

  • This is best thing Ive read in like, forever.

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