Just weeks after the AmNews interviewed the creator of the R&B fusion genre, New Jack Swing, the young and enigmatic experimental R&B pop artist, SassyBlack, has announced the release of her upcoming album, “New Black Swing.” Catherine “SassyBlack” Harris-White emerged into the Seattle Black music scene as the protégé of Ishmael Butler, better known as “Butterfly” of the ’90s jazz, hip-hop group, Digable Planets, who signed Harris-White and her bandmate and former partner, Stasia “Stas THEE Boss” Irons, to Subpop Records under the music moniker, THEESatisfaction. THEESatisfaction received acclaim for their afrofuturistic, esoteric style of R&B/soul music but disbanded in 2015, naming their sophomore album, “EarthEE,” their final project.
Harris-White quickly established a solo music career for herself as “SassyBlack,” releasing the full-length album “No More Weak Dates” in 2016. Now, SassyBlack’s sophomore full-length album, “New Black Swing,” is set for release June 23. The album endearingly mimics producer Teddy Riley’s high toned, eighth-beat hip-hop drum machine beats over her smooth and ethereal voice.
The nine-track album sounds very different from her work with THEESatisfaction, moving away from the deep, almost psychedelic soul music and taking her sound in a realm of danceable, club-oriented R&B pop songs, which is not to say “New Black Swing” isn’t creative and unique. SassyBlack is unique and breaks the rules as a queer Black artist, drenching her music with humor, irony and neosoul local riffs.
She does a great job of melding the past with the present. “New Black Swing” not only adopts the production and compositional style of New Jack Swing, but borrows touches from the entire ’90s era R&B pop. You can hear En Vogue, and you can hear a little Xscape and laid-back Adina Howard. The album is fun and a bit somber at the same time, much like Harris-White, who is incredibly funny but also a hard worker and very serious about her work.
SassyBlack will have a conversation with the AmNews in the coming weeks to talk about the inspiration behind “New Black Swing,” her thoughts on her music journey so far and where she sees her music
taking her in the future.
“New Black Swing” is officially released independently June 23.