Amid the wave of ’90s nostalgia currently engulfing us as a people, a major genre is continually being overlooked. That would be the sometimes corny, but always danceable New Jack Swing movement.
Artists as influential as Michael Jackson and Madonna took the cues laid down by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and combined jazz, hip-hop, soul and R&B into a melting pot to create a sound fundamentally stuck in time but absolutely worth revisiting. Songs like “This is How We Do It,” “Remember the Time” and “Poison” are all hallmarks of the era, but one of the most-overlooked songs has to be “Return of the Mack,” which was released 20 years ago today.
Mark Morrison isn’t a household name today, and he was barely in the zeitgeist by the time 1998 rolled around. But for a (very) brief period, Morrison was poised to take over R&B. His first album, named for the song, of course, dropped in 1996 and earned him the distinction of being the first British pop artist to have five singles from a debut album in the Billboard top 10. Those four other songs (ahem, “Crazy,” “Horny,” “Trippin'” and “Moanin’ and Groanin'”) have all relatively faded into obscurity, but “The Mack” remains. It’s hard to say exactly what keeps “Return of the Mack” a landmark song, but when beat slams in with the “Genius of Love” sample, you can’t help but fall under its spell.
The song had new relevance breathed into it late last year when it was prominently-featured in an episode of Aziz Ansari’s Netflix show “Master of None.” Appropriately, it provided the soundtrack for a dance floor scene. Whether you’re in the club or just walking down the street, blast “Return of the Mack” and feel the true sting of new jack swing. If you’re trying to build your 1996 outfit to a tee, watch the video below on repeat.