Gettin’ Fresh

The slow jam and I go way back. Like any normal 7-year-old, I had a soft spot for Motown. And the slow jam trend continued as I got older. Though I discount my middle school years, as they were peppered with a whole Jansport full of angsty fist-pumpers, my love of slow-burning grooves continued with my discovery of rap in high school. Don’t get me wrong, I like the seminal, daring “Don’t Drop That Thun Thun” as much as the next guy, but I would take some melodic soul samples from early Kanye any day of the week.

However, despite my long love of slow jams, the freshman experience is not super conducive to slow jamming. Take homework for example. Deep in the depths of homework despair, hearing Marvin Gaye’s silky voice makes you want to chuck your clothes off and lie on a bearskin rug, not power through electron wavelength calculations. Instead, you need DJ Khaled shouting in your ear with a beat solely composed of gunshots and explosions.

Double-however, this last weekend, I realized us freshies could totally benefit from incorporating the slow jam back into our lives. The realization dawned on me while I was at a party. True, the number of major parties I’ve attended this year equals the number that participate in the United States government, but I’d still like to think my advice could be worthwhile.

At this point in my evening, everyone at the party had been working their way through a pack of “Aquafina purified waters,” and they were feeling pretty “hydrated.” Suddenly, a sultry voice came over the speakers; it was Ciara’s “Body Party.” The various clumps across the dancefloor (read: basement) disintegrated as hands went up, donks went out and inhibitions were gone. Something about a well-timed slow jam took the party to the next level. It was beautiful. I haven’t heard that many joyous, off-key falsettos since my first Frank Ocean impersonator contest. That last part was a lie, but definitely hit me up if those exist.

So, you get the point. Slow jams have a certain type of magic. My theory is that they are just a sonic embodiment of how you are feeling when you listen to one, so the connection to the song is that much stronger. When you are drunk—erm, hydrated—does it really make sense to listen to some hectic, wild techno when you feel all wavy and warm on the inside? No! Slow jams are all about the wavy and the warm! That’s their whole spiel!

And yes, some might ask, how am I supposed to publicly hook up without some ratchet Kagin jams? Look, I get it. It’s Friday night. You feel all right. You want to rub your butt on some other butts. It makes sense. But who needs Danny Brown or 2 Chainz when you have a proper slow jam? It’s not like “You Know How We Do It” by Ice Cube or “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” by Kendrick Lamar are boring songs, and if anything they’ll make your copious hooking up a bit more sensual—though maybe I’m just anti-buckwildness because a couple at Kagin once was making out so hard they fell on top of me, then into the thick black curtains surrounding the dance floor without even noticing. To that couple, you can still M.M.A.ke out with each other (that’s what I’m calling whatever they were doing to/on each other), but why not set the mood? Hell, R. Kelly even has a song called “Bump ‘N Grind.”

I’m not saying that it has to be all slow jams all the time, I’m just recommending a well placed slow j every once in a while. For every few Icona Pops, try some Ice Cube. Your party, significant other and ears will thank you.