First published in Mongrel in 2007 (the heyday of the slow jam)
THE SLOW JAM is a weird branch of the musical tree. It’s usually a combination of crooning vocals with smoothed-out hip hop beats. Bendy synth sounds are frequently prominent. Prime movers of the slowjamming scene have been Usher, Ginuwine, R Kelly and recent arrivals T-Pain and The Dream; and slow jams are, almost exclusively, about knocking the socks off women. Which is to say, they’re all about being a particular kind of man.
The position of the Slow Jam Man is a curious one. On the one hand, you’re the undiluted essence of male: a master seducer driven by the urge to sexual conquest. On the other, that conquest is generally achieved by such doctrinally effeminate methods as the gyration of hips, the murmuring of sweet nothings, and the hitting of climactic high notes. For a genre obsessed with notions of masculinity, this is the elephant in the room. How do you reconcile being an unreconstructed player with – let’s face it – singing and dancing, like a girl?