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For the ladies

Tonight is Ladies Night in Buffalo, folks. And what would Ladies Night be without a little New Jack Swing to get the hips swaying and the hearts pumping?

Back in the days before hip-hop became the pre-eminent commercial force in popular music, soul and R&B still had a rather uneasy relationship with rap. Though they were never really oil and water, the soothing, romantic and sensual tones of soul music and the rapid-fire, staccato rhythms of nascent rap hadn't really found a way to merge, until artists like Keith Sweat and Bobby Brown, and producers Teddy Riley and Babyface, came along to force some sexuality into the often-clinical world of drum machine-generated rhythms.

It worked, and from the late '80s through just about the middle '90s, the new hybrid form ruled the roost. Sweat himself was seated at the head of this class, and during his commercial zenith he stacked up more than a dozen Top 10 R&B chart hits.

A decade later, New Jack Swing is making a bit of a comeback, which is not surprising, considering how readily apparent its influence on urban pop remains. In celebration, Sweat has teamed with fellow New Jackers Bell Biv Devoe, Dru Hill and Sisqo for "Ladies Night Out," which bumps and grinds its way into Shea's Performing Arts Center (646 Main St.) this very evening, beginning at 8 p.m.

Remaining tickets are available through Ticketmaster and the Shea's box office.

-- Jeff Miers

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