DAR Music: 12 Underrated Slow Jams Of The 80's and 90's

By @TrueGodImmortal

One thing about R&B and soul music that has always resonated is within the sound. The slow melodies and the sultry vocals that enticed every listener and relaxes the mind. We all have a favorite slow jam or two, and today, I wanted to look back at the two decades that spawned some of the greatest slow jams ever. However, today, we aren't here to merely discuss the best slow jams, but rather some underrated slow jams that don't always end up in the playlist or that you might have left off the playlist by mistake. Let's take a look at 12 (6 from each decade) of the most underrated slow jams from the 80's and 90's.

The 1980s
While the 80s remains one of my favorite decades for music, I don't think there's any way to narrow the slow jams of the decade down just right. So, I decided to take a look at 6 of the more underrated slow jams from the decade that made an impact, but either doesn't get mentioned as much or is just underrated in general. Which slow jams makes this list? Read on and find out my 6 choices.

*Debra Laws and Ronnie Laws- Very Special (1981)

-I sometimes wonder how this song gets slept on so much at this point. You've probably heard this song a thousand times, but a lot of those today aren't aware of the woman who carries this beautiful composition. This is slow jam soul personified from the opening melody to the infectious hook and beyond. This song has been covered and remixed in various ways, but the original is one of the greatest slow jams ever.

*Rick James and Smokey Robinson- Ebony Eyes (1983)

-If you want to discuss some of the smoothest music ever, both of these artists have to be discussed in the 70's and 80's. These two together over this resounding soul jam was magic. The melody was perfect, and the way Rick and Smokey handled the harmony and vocals makes it one of my all time favorite duets. The hook is so infectious especially when you get to that "and I bet you didn't know that.... Ebony Eyes" part. This is equal parts a ballad and a slow jam, as the two coincide with each other. If you don't know the greatness of "Ebony Eyes", take a listen ASAP.

*Freddie Jackson- Have You Ever Loved Somebody (1986)

-When I hear the name Freddie Jackson come up, most people look at the classic "You Are My Lady", which is an amazing song, but this track is just as good, if not better. The production is smooth and reminiscent of the slow jams of the 80's, with the clap drums and infectious melody assisting the vocals and harmony. The lyrics are your standard fare, but it all works so well. I've always felt Freddie Jackson was an unsung R&B legend of the 80's, and this is his best single IMO, and it doesn't get discussed quite as much as it should.

*Debarge- I Like It (1982)

-I have always been a huge fan of Debarge and their music and while a lot of their songs have been slept on, I think their absolute best song is this one and it sometimes gets overshadowed for the iconic samples that came from "Stay With Me", "All This Love", and the upbeat single "Rhythm Of The Night". However, from the breezy yet smooth production to the excellent vocals and extremely infectious hook, this song starts and ends perfect. If this isn't on your playlist, you're absolutely missing out.

*Loose Ends- You Can't Stop The Rain (1985)

-A very slept on band from the UK during the era, one of my favorite albums during this era is the 1985 slept on classic So Where Are You, which features this classic slow jam. With a beautiful melody, along with some amazing layered vocals during the bridge and the hook, this song has actually been sampled quite often in hip hop, but Loose Ends is more remembered for their biggest single "Hanging On A String", but this might actually be a better song and it's an actual slow jam that could set the mood for relaxing or other things. Word to Jane Eugene and her smooth vocals.

*Maze and Frankie Beverly- Can't Get Over You (1989)

-As the decade came to an end, one of my favorite slow jams set the tone. Maze and Frankie Beverly are true legends and this is one of those songs that capture your attention the entire time. Whether it's the opening melody, the drums that flow so well, or how smooth Frankie Beverly comes onto the song, everything about this slow jam screams excellence. It's a song that sets the tone for your night and though the actual content of the song is more about a love that you can't shake, it's a true slow jam that needs more love and credit. I'm going to go play this right now.

The 1990s 
The greatest decade of R&B has so many hits that we all remember, but there are some beautiful slow jams that tend to get swept under compared to the usual singles and songs we all hear casual fans speak of. I wanted to stick with 6 slow jams that are recognizable, but aren't always regarded at the top of the list. Let's take a look at the underrated 90's slow jams.

*Joe- The Love Scene (1997)

-I'll be honest.... Joe had one of the greatest debut albums of the late 90's for R&B, but the biggest reason isn't his dirty mack anthem that we all know, it was this track that really took it above and beyond. With the guitars and drums combining for a beautiful arrangement, Joe describes the night with his lady as a movie scene, a specific movie scene at that. The hook flows so smoothly and the breakdowns here are executed perfectly and honestly, this might be the GOAT Joe song, and yes, that also includes "I Wanna Know". Simply put, "The Love Scene" is a classic.

*Hi-Five- Quality Time (1992)

-Many might not remember this song, but if you do, then you're lucky. This was penned and produced by R. Kelly for the group on their second album in 1992 and it's quite possibly their best song ever. The rhythm and melody is prime R. Kelly, as is the harmony and the infectious hook, but when we look back at Hi-Five, most people remember "I Like The Way (The Kissing Game)" or "She's Playing Hard To Get", but this slow jam surpasses them all. I could listen to this song over and over honestly, it's probably my favorite Hi-Five track (with only "Unconditional Love" coming close).

*Tyrese- Lately (1998)

-It sometimes feels as if Tyrese is known for more crying on Instagram and bad one liners in the Fast and Furious movies than his music, but once upon a time, he would make some amazing songs, especially on his first album. With this Derek Allen produced track, Tyrese delivers what might be his best song, as he seamlessly coasts over the slow and smooth instrumental. As soon as the snaps and the guitar riffs capture your ears with the strings in the back, this entire arrangement calls every listener's attention and Tyrese managed to execute a legendary slow jam.

*Tevin Campbell- Shhh (1993)

-If you remember the classic I'm Ready from Tevin Campbell, it had a single and a song that sounds awfully like Prince. Well, as we know, Prince assisted with his first albums, and he would give him this gem, which is the most seductive track on his album, and honestly feels a bit out of place with the rest of the tracklist. The song is classic Prince from the live instrumentation to the vocals, even to the adlibs, but Tevin does his job here and delivers. If the song title jogs your memory again, it's probably because Prince released his version of the song on his excellent album The Gold Experience two years later. This is a classic slow jam that I'm surprised doesn't get mentioned as much.

*SWV- Anything (Slow Album Version) (1992)

-Many people know the old school radio version with the booming beat, as it was a true hit, but there's something special about the slow album version. It's honestly the best slow jam that SWV has in their catalog and yes, that includes "Weak" and "Rain". This song just flows beautifully and their vocal harmony is undefeated. It kicks off their classic album It's About Time, and though it feels more like an interlude or intro, it's an official song that should actually have more accolades than the radio version that would come later.

*Barry White- Practice What You Preach (1994)

-This song got brought back to my attention recently and it's a mix of smoothness and all around unintentional comedy in the same breath. Barry White was a smooth vocalist and he specialized in slow jams, and this was exactly that. From the bristling bass line that starts the song off to the seductive rhythm to the vocals of Barry, this is an excellent slow jam that is perfect for setting the tone and I'm shocked that the song isn't mentioned with the best slow jams of the 90's often. It's that good. While there are many more slow jams to speak of, these 12 are classics in their own right that just don't get enough credit.



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