Apollo Theater to host Kings and Queens of New Jack Swing


If you have been down New York City’s 125th Street, you have seen the lighted marquee of the Apollo Theater flashed a message that seemed too good to be true. The legendary theater will host a night of live music that will celebrate New Jack Swing. It has been 30 years since the r&b subgenre was created and unleashed upon a listening public and changed the urban music landscape forever.

The Apollo Presents: The Kings and Queens of New Jack Swing

The leaders of New Jack Swing are a group of rappers and singers that typified the sound. A representative selection of the performers will take the stage on Sunday, Dec. 9. There will be two shows at the Apollo at 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Among the household names that are scheduled to perform are Teddy Riley, who continues to perform with his groups Guy and Blackstreet; members of Blackstreet, Doug E. Fresh, Kool Moe Dee, MC Lyte, Al B. Sure and others.

Brief history of New Jack Swing

New Jack Swing is a sub-genre of r&b that is largely thought to have started with Janet Jackson’s “Control” album from 1986. The album was produced by Teddy Riley and Bernard Belle.

The New Jack Swing sound itself is derived from so-called New York club music that is created by drum machine (TR-808), sampler and synthesizer. The soundscape is essentially hip-hop, but New Jack Swing performers could either sing or rap over the music created. With its basis in dance music, New Jack Swing is obviously danceable. The style yielded some of the most memorable r&b music of the past three decades.

New Jack Swing developed in Harlem 30 years ago, and according to the Apollo’s website, the event “underscores Harlem’s legacy as a cultural hub for innovation and creativity.”

Kings and Queens of New Jack Swing at the Apollo Theater

Doors will open to the two shows an hour before each. Tickets range from $58.50 to $93.50. There is a limit of eight (8) tickets total for the event per person. Oversized bags and outside food and drinks are prohibited. Bags must be able to fit under a seat.

Guidelines aside, the show should prove to be an exciting night full of near-historic performances. That significant numbers of audiences haven’t forgotten New Jack Swing and its roots is a tremendous thing for the performers.

The tradition of New Jack Swing is kept alive in the form of Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic.” The song captures the verve, attitude and the musical qualities of New Jack Swing.

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