ON TEDDY RILEY’S BIRTHDAY, WE REFLECT ON SOME OF HIS ENDURING HITS.
New Jack Swing technically turned 30 last year; that was the anniversary of the Village Voice article on then 20-year-old Teddy Riley in which Barry Michael Cooper (New Jack City, Above the Rim & Sugar Hill) coined the phrase (he told Riley, “You have to give it a name so people can follow it.”)
More than simply a music genre, New Jack Swing’s impact on urban culture reached beyond music to fashion, TV, film, advertisiting… it was lifestyle.
“New Jack Swing was the expression of a culture that was affected by whatever was surrounding us, just like with hip-hop. Hip-hop was a language of the street. New Jack Swing was another version of the language of the street and all the things that was going on surrounding our generation.” — Al B Sure
It paved the way for hip-hop soul and the continued merger of hip hop and R&B, even now. “All these people that are marrying singing with rap or making a song that’s a rap song into a singing song? That’s New Jack Swing,” Riley told Rolling Stone last year.
We celebrated New Jack Swing it its full glory previously, but in honor of Theodore’s birthday, let’s go through some of Teddy’s poppin’est jams.