In the late 80s, R&B music lost a little appeal as rap music began to steal the spotlight. Michael and Janet Jackson, Prince, and Whitney Houston were still holding their own but artists like Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, and Kool & The Gang just weren’t selling records at anywhere near the level of the first half of the decade. Then in 1987, R&B took on the Hip Hop world head-on by merging their smooth style with rap’s energy. New Jack Swing added samples, contemporary beats, and a hip hop attitude that injected new energy into modern R&B music. One of the first landmark New Jack Swing albums was the debut triple platinum album, Make It Last Forever, by Keith Sweat. Produced by Teddy Riley (Guy), the album spent three weeks at #1 on the R&B Album Charts and hit #5 on the Billboard Album Chart. But even more importantly, the album marked the birth of the New Jack Swing Era. Let’s check out the highlights:
SOMETHING JUST AIN’T RIGHT – Kicking off with an electronic drum loop, Keith’s unique nasally vocals immediately grabbed your attention. This album had a different feel and the funky lead off track is enhanced with a vocoder interlude that surprisingly works well.
RIGHT AND A WRONG WAY The album’s ultimate “slow jam” is pure romance as Keith pleads his case for their love affair to take it to the next level.
TELL ME IT’S ME YOU WANT
I WANT HER One of the biggest hits of Keith Sweat’s career and the first major New Jack Swing song to top the Singles Chart. Teddy Riley brought his familiar voice to the forefront singing backup on the club favorite.
MAKE IT LAST FOREVER Keith teams up with Jacci McGhee for the album’s second single. They later teamed up again on Jacci’s debut album for “It Hurts Me”. “Make It Last Forever” is the album’s most sampled track as everyone from Mariah Carey, Ciara, Chante’ Moore, and T.I. have recorded a version of the Keith Sweat classic.
IN THE RAIN The only track not written by Riley or Sweat, Tony Hester penned “In The Rain”.
HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE Rumored to have been recorded off the cuff by Keith in the studio, it’s not a cover of the Bee Gees song but another “Quiet Storm” jam that was an essential late night bedroom song.
DON’T STOP YOUR LOVE The album ends on a high point as Keith gets the party started up again with a fierce groove that belies the New Jack style for more of a traditional 80s R&B vibe. It’s an underrated gem that deserved to be a huge hit.