Thursday, January 13, 2011

Playlist of the Week: A Dozen Slow Jamz

I've always been told that it's only how you see yourself that's important.  Well in that case, I choose to see myself as D'Angelo, circa 1999.

There have really only been a few music "phases" in my life.  First there was my Def Leppard/INXS phase.  I don't know why it was those two bands, but around 1987 I was pretty much convinced that there was really no need for any other music.  Then there was a country phase.  Sure I had all of Garth's CDs and always saved my best, most awkward, nervous efforts at school dances for some special girl who would slow dance with me to "The Dance".  But I actually listened to country radio constantly and knew all the words to such classics as "Bubba Shot the Jukebox" by Mark Chesnutt.  Who is Mark Chesnutt, you ask?  Exactly.

But the final phase before my current phase which I just refer to as the "good phase" was the rap and R&B phase.  Back in the day when I certainly couldn't circumnavigate the parental advisory stickers that drew me to music then like a moth to a flame, I made due by buying cassette singles of what I later found out to be the radio edits of my favorite songs (you'd be amazed how much different the radio version of every Dr. Dre single sounds than the actual album version--pretty shocking) as well as just going super-classy and recording songs straight from the radio on to blank cassette tapes.  Now if I've lost any of you on what a cassette tape is, you should stop reading now.

Well thanks to a passionate suggestion in response to my solicitation for playlist ideas by my friends Melissa and Jessica, I've had the opportunity to quite scarily tap back in to those junior high years gone by--specifically to identify a dozen bona fide famous/infamous slow jamz.  Oh, there's a "z" in "slow jamz", alright.  Slow jamz are a very specific, but instantly identifiable sub-genre of R&B.  And during the years I was growing up, they were my first introduction to R&B.  I knew no Al Green or Marvin Gaye back in those halcyon days.  No, I knew of H-Town and Silk and the great, great Jodeci as the bell cows of an entire genre.  Sigh.

Slow jamz were and are really defined by some or maybe even all of the following devices:

1.  Breathy,  statements/monologues of intent.  Almost like a sexual mission statement.  But in a really breathy voice.
2.  A promise--nay, an oath--to do this for all the ladies out there.
3.  Use of the word "freak" as the f-word of record.  In fact, "freak" was pretty much the way to get away with conveying all the dirty intent of the king of all f-words without saying it.  Genius.
4.  Promises of all-night love making encounters that in all likelihood created slightly unreasonable expectations for myself regarding "future Rob".  I'm actually certain these kinds of songs created unreasonable expectations for both sexes.

With all that out of the way, here are a dozen slow jamz handpicked by myself and the aforementioned Melissa and Jessica.  I want to be sure to mention them so that they can share in the glory.  And the shame.  This should hit a sweet/sour/cringe-worthy spot for those of you in your mid 20's to mid 30's, but I don't want to make any assumptions about what any of you have heard or hold ashamedly dear.  A few of these songs are actually really good songs in any era.  And some of them certainly aren't good, but there isn't one track here that didn't mean something to each of us at some point which would deny a smile on our face now.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy a trip down memory lane.  In a drop-top.

P.S.  Thanks for all the recommendations and keep them coming.  I plan to use them all at some point.  Unless they sucked.  But none of the ones so far have.  I'm pretty sure.  Also, say a prayer/think a good thought for me as I go under the oral surgeon's knife tomorrow.  If for some reason I don't make it, this is goodbye.  Sad that of all my playlists, this might be my farewell gift to you.  You're welcome.

1 comment:

  1. SWV! Weak! It's my favorite slow dance song. Pony! So dirty! Also, I had a whole summer during college where all it seemed I did was watch Vh1Soul. It was the best. In the meantime, it's not a classic slow jam, but your D'Angelo picture makes me want to (among other things) listen to my favorite all-time make-out track, Lauryn Hill's Nothing Even Matters... (Also, contemplating Genuwine as baby name.)