Hear Nile Rodgers, Chic Channel New Jack Swing on ‘Sober’
Nile Rodgers reaches back to New Jack Swing, the brittle fusion of hip-hop and R&B that ruled the second half of the Eighties, on the new single “Sober” with his group Chic.
Actually, it’s a little more complicated than that: This is a disco pioneer playing New Jack Swing with Craig David, an English singer who became famous working in a dance style known as U.K. garage, and Stefflon Don, an English rapper of Jamaican descent who was born just as New Jack Swing was beginning to lose its popularity.
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Despite all the musical cross-currents, everyone sounds at home on “Sober.” Rodgers downplays his lead guitar, sticking to propulsive rhythmic riffs that work in lockstep with the triplet-heavy beat that defines New Jack Swing. David’s job is to articulate a melody while staying out of the way, and he succeeds. Stefflon Don adds a rap verse that is mostly unnecessary, but presumably it will help catch the ears of radio programmers and playlist-makers who are unfamiliar with Rodgers.
“Sober” will appear on Rodgers’ upcoming album with Chic, It’s About Time, due out September 14. The album is the group’s first since 1992. Unlike the classic Chic LPs, the tracklist for It’s About Time is heavy on famous featured vocalists: Nao, Vic Mensa, Hailee Steinfeld, Elton John, Emeli Sandé and more.
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