By the start of 1993, suburban America’s backlash against urban culture had divided popular music into “urban” and “suburban” categories. By now, the Smashing Pumpkins, Spin Doctors, and the Stone Temple Pilots were among the biggest players among suburban audiences, while Gangsta Rap videos by Dr. Dre (“Dre Day”) and Ice Cube (“It Was A Good Day”) received heavy rotation on MTV along with Pearl Jam and Nirvana.
In other areas of entertainment, the suburban backlash had a devastating effect on “urban-oriented” television. This year, NBC would pull the plug on “A Different World” (1987-1993) and in the next year Paramount would cancel the once highly rated “Arsenio Hall Show” (1989-1994), while Fox ended “In Living Color” (1990-1994). MTV even relegated its groundbreaking “Yo MTV Raps” (1988-1995) to a virtually ignored late-night time slot during its last two years.
After these events, it became official: the New Jack Swing Era was definitely over. The torch of authentically “urban” music had been passed on (in large part) to Uptown Records artists like Mary J. Blige and Jodeci. The new sound was Hip-Hop/Soul, and it was mostly folks associated with Uptown Records who would be setting new trends in urban music throughout the first half of the 90s.
Editors Note: The late (great) Notorious B.I.G. was originally signed to Uptown Records, but when Sean “Puffy” Combs was fired from his A&R/VP position at Uptown, B.I.G. joined Puff’s newly formed Bad Boy Entertainment, and the rest (as they say) is history…
Below are some of the best releases over the next several years from the Hip-Hop/Soul Era: