The DJ Playlist - Slow Jams
As a professional DJ I am always looking to find new music styles to listen to and play out for my audiences. Whilst live events are temporarily on hold, I've taken the time to tidy up my digital music library and create some new crates for when things start returning to normal and we are allowed to perform again.
I'm always looking for music styles that allow me to create unique music concepts for my clients and whilst digging through my music collection I started to play a few R'n'B ballads like 'Nobody Knows' from the Tony Rich Project and 'Don't Let Go (Love)' by En Vogue.
Great songs... strong ballads... but with enough going on to make them interesting and playable at various points during an event. I was loving this vibe and continued to collate more tracks and it soon became apparent that I had stumbled on a style of music known collectively as ‘slow jams’!
This term was created to describe ballads or down-tempo songs commonly associated with R'n'B and soul music. An early use came in 1983 when the group Midnight Star featured a track called 'Slow Jam' on their album 'No Parking On The Dancefloor'. The track was written by Kenneth Edmonds (better known by his stage-name, Babyface) who also penned hits for Michael Jackson, K-Ci & JoJo, En Vogue and Janet Jackson as well as achieving chart success of his own with Slow Jam classics including 'Everytime I Close My Eyes' and 'When Can I See You'.
Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s the Slow Jam anthems kept on coming, including 'Twisted' – Keith Sweat, 'Nice & Slow' – Usher, 'Sweet Love' – Anita Baker and 'If You Were Here Tonight' – Alexander O' Neal. And that trend has continued to this day, with many modern artists recording tracks that fall into the Slow Jam genre. But it's the classics that remain popular, with many tracks reaching new audiences thanks to social media platforms including Tik Tok and Instagram.
Whilst the ‘80s and ‘90s saw a huge influx of Slow Jams there are many songs that work from other decades including the ‘70s, such as 'Let's Get it On' – Marvin Gaye, 'Cruisin'' – Smokey Robinson and 'Never, Never Gonna Give You Up' – Barry White. The same can be said of the ‘00s, with tracks including 'Birthday Sex' – Jeremih and 'Promise' – Jagged Edge.
Slow Jams lend themselves perfectly for an End Of Night or After Dark style set but can work almost anywhere with some careful programming. For a cooler vibe they are perfect, and appeal to a wide range of age groups thanks to the diversity of the artists who fall under the slow jams umbrella. From Stevie Wonder to Chaka Khan, En Vogue to SWV, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Music is great fun, and the joy of discovering a new music style is one that a DJ should embrace and enjoy. Whether it's playing well-known tracks or digging through your music collection to find those hidden gems, you can never underestimate the importance of pushing your boundaries and expanding your music knowledge.
1 \\ Everybody Loves The Sunshine – Roy Ayers
2 \\ Sweet Love – Anita Baker
3 \\ Everytime I Close My Eyes – Babyface with Mariah Carey & Kenny G
4 \\ Sentimental – Deborah Cox
5 \\ Don't Let Go (Love) – En Vogue
6 \\ Let's Get It On – Marvin Gaye
7 \\ Pony – Ginuwine
8 \\ Between The Sheets – Isley Brothers
9 \\ M & U – Cassie
10 \\ The Lady In My Life – Michael Jackson
11 \\ Promise – Jagged Edge
12 \\ Birthday Sex – Jeremih
13 \\ I Wanna Know – Joe
14 \\ Through The Fire – Chaka Khan
15 \\ Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder) – Maxwell
16 \\ Back At One – Brian McKnight
17 \\ Slow Jam – Midnight Star
18 \\ If You Were Here Tonight – Alexander O'Neal
19 \\ All My Life – K-Ci & JoJo
20 \\ Love T.K.O. – Teddy Pendergrass
21 \\ Brown Sugar – D'Angelo
22 \\ Nobody Knows – Tony Rich Project
23 \\ Cruisin' – Smokey Robinson
24 \\ I Wish (Old Skool Dub) – Skee-Lo
25 \\ Twisted – Keith Sweat
26 \\ Weak – SWV
27 \\ Sweet Lady – Tyrese
28 \\ Nice & Slow – Usher
29 \\ Never, Never Gonna Give You Up (Long Version) – Barry White
30 \\ Ribbon In The Sky – Stevie Wonder