A lot of music fans make fun of the Eighties. There was a lot of awful music during that decade (fill in your favorite bad Eighties song here), yet it did have some musical saving grace – like R&B singer Keith Sweat. This month Sweat celebrates the 25th anniversary of his debut album, Make It Last Forever. It established him as a major R&B star and ushered in the era of “New Jack Swing,” a style of music that became extremely popular in the late 1980’s. A fusion between R&B, hip-hop and dance pop, the person most credited with creating the “sound” of New Jack Swing is the Grammy Award winning producer and musician Teddy Riley. His own bands Guy and BLACKstreet are both notable on their own merits, and Riley production and co-writing of Sweat’s debut had a significant lasting impact on pop culture. Riley worked with Sweat on his first three albums and the two reunited for Sweat’s 2008 release, Just Me. A recent article in The Atlantic, ‘We Gave R&B A New Lifeline’: How Teddy Riley Invented New Jack Swing’, has a terrific interview with Riley on the making of Sweat’s debut that we highly suggest you read if you’re a fan of this era and style of music. Sweat is still making and performing great soul and R&B music and can still kick it live. He also hosts a syndicated radio show, The Keith Sweat Hotel. Sweat is currently on tour and is playing the Keswick Theatre on Friday, December 7th. Go here for tickets to the show. Below, relive some of those early New Jack Swing classics and remember why this part of the 80’s is one we continue to cherish.
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