LOS ANGELES – Taraji P. Henson remembered wearing her favorite outfit to a music festival where some of the biggest New Jack Swing tunes were being performed from Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison” to Tony! Toni! Tone!’s “Feels Good.”
At the time, Henson had no clue about the backstory behind the music era, which made its mark in the ’80s and ’90s. But now, the Oscar-nominated actor has a clearer view as the host of the new podcast series “Jacked: Rise of the New Jack Sound,” which premiered this week on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and the Wondery App.
“I was too busy living it to know exactly what was happening. I was enjoying the music,” said Henson, who serves as a producer of the six-part series, which airs Tuesdays. The series examines the “rise and eventual fall” of the New Jack Swing movement.
“This podcast was very informative,” she said. “Things I did not know make sense now. Looking back in retrospect, like how the executives were actually street dudes, they were mixing business with the street. I wasn’t really paying attention to that back then, but that’s what was happening.”
“Jacked” delves into the complex relationships between a group of teenagers from Harlem who created the musical sound. It features narration from Henson along with dozens of interviews — including band members and managers — and music from Universal Music Group’s catalog.
The story involves a culmination of “dashed hopes, jealousy, betrayal, drugs, hip-hop and rivalries.”
Megaproducer Teddy Riley is known as the leader of the New Jack Swing era and the musical mastermind behind popular bands such as Guy and Blackstreet. The musical style was a fusion of hip-hop, R&B, jazz and funk.
Some of the popular songs from the era included Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative,” Wreckx-N-Effect’s “Rump Shaker,” Guy’s “Groove Me” and “I Want Her” by Keith Sweat.