The R&B of the ’80s and ’90s has reached a point of nostalgia. When comparing the current radio-friendly bump-and-grind music to the sounds of back-in-the day — usually less favorably for people of a certain age, myself included — Keith Sweat’s name will probably come up in the conversation.
Sweat, along with Teddy Riley, Guy and others, helped initiate the New Jack Swing era of R&B. The New Jack sound melded the early dance ethos of hip-hop production with the lothario-fueled groove of soulful R&B. Today’s R&B is a direct descendant, with just about all of the soul removed.
That’s why tours such as the Mixed Music Tour, featuring Johnny Gill, Mint Condition, Ledisi and Sweat can be popular. (Perhaps Sweat and Gill will share the stage with each other to perform songs by LSG, the latter-career group they formed with Gerald LeVert, who is now deceased.) Especially for those who yearn for a time when the sexual overtones in music were less overt and more seductive.