Sweat Hotel

There was a time in the history of black music when R&B still meant something. Plenty of people would argue that the genre was at its peak when popular crooners of the ´70s such as Donnie Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, and Teddy Pendergrass were in their heyday, but don´t assume so quickly. The early ´90s were like a walk through R&B heaven with groups like Jodeci, Silk, SWV, Bell Biv Devoe, and Guy bringing about a sort of R&B renaissance. With all that talent -- and the hilarious bump-and-grind videos that came along with them -- it´s an indisputable fact that no singer had the staying power or whip appeal to compete with Keith Sweat. Now, some of you die-hard R&B aficionados are screaming the names of Johnny Gill and Al B. Sure at the top of your lungs. But could either of them get down and beg like Keith Sweat? If you´re even a moderate fan of pillow-talk R&B, you´re familiar with most of Sweat´s material. Classic jams like ¨Make It Last Forever¨ and ¨How Deep Is Your Love¨ kept the ladies swooning for nearly a decade as Sweat became a master of the ¨please baby baby please¨ style of begging R&B. But these days, there are tons of fans of the new school (Chris Brown, Pretty Ricky) on the scene who are too young to remember the ´90s´ golden era that Sweat represented. So what does the self-proclaimed ¨king of the new jack swing¨ do to remain relevant? Put out a live album/DVD, of course, not only to cash in on the large demographic that longs for the good ole days but to restake his claim as the sexiest R&B singer alive.

The nearly-three-hour DVD, Sweat Hotel, is full of nonstop R&B nostalgia and is one of the better-composed concert releases to hit the market this year. Not only is the cinematography crisp and the sound quality noticeably superior but the lineup that Sweat gathers for this two-part concert is topnotch. Teddy Riley, Kut Klose, Silk, Charlie Wilson, and Akon are just some of the artists who make appearances, and all of the performances have the audience going crazy. It gets a little corny that every two or three songs, Sweat has to pull a different woman out of the crowd to join him on stage -- and that all of these late-30/early-40-something groupies try to hump the man, but it´s Keith Sweat, so who can be surprised? With all of its quirky, danceable moments, Sweat Hotel is right on time for those who miss the days of new jack swing.

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Jonathan Cunningham