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Mastermix, Music Programming

The Mobile DJs Guide To Slow Jams

Classic Cuts 172: Soul Jams is the latest release in the Mastermix Classic Cuts range and includes 30 tracks from artists including Jagged Edge, Isley Brothers, Michael Jackson, Maxwell, Joe, SWV & En Vogue.

Each track has been carefully compiled by DJs for DJs to ensure the right versions of each track are included as well as offering a selection of tracks that work well together allowing you to create unique sets for your clients.

As a professional DJ I am always looking to find new music styles to listen to & play out for my audiences. Whilst the 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’ – Tony Rich Project & ‘Don’t Let Go (Love)’ – En Vogue. Great songs… strong ballads… but with enough going on to make them interesting & playable at various parts of 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!

So what is a ‘Slow Jam’?

The term ‘Slow Jams’ was created to describe ballads or down-tempo songs commonly associated with R’n’B & Soul music. An early use of this term 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, and is personally responsible for penning hits for Michael Jackson, K-Ci & JoJo, En Vogue & Janet Jackson as well as achieving chart success of his own with Slow Jam classics including ‘Everytime I Close My Eyes’ & ‘When Can I See You’.

Throughout the 80s & 90s the Slow Jams anthems kept on coming including ‘Twisted’ – Keith Sweat, ‘Nice & Slow’ – Usher, ‘Sweet Love’ – Anita Baker & ‘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 & Instagram.

Whilst the 80s & 90s saw a huge influx of Slow Jams there are many songs that work from other decades including the 70s with tracks like ‘Let’s Get it On’ – Marvin Gaye, ‘Cruisin” – Smokey Robinson & ‘Never, Never Gonna Give You Up’ – Barry White. The same can be said of the 00s with tracks including ‘Birthday Sex’ – Jeremih & ‘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 Prince, En Vogue to SWV, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Slow Jams come in many forms and can even be found tucked away on some classic albums including ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson that features the track ‘The Lady In My Life’ that has all the hallmarks associated with a Slow Jam…silky smooth vibes all round.

Music is great fun and the joy of discovering a new music style is one that a DJ should embrace & 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.