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Something Old, Something New...

1998 in Review
Brian Setzer

Former Stray Cat Brian Setzer has built a successful swing comeback on rockabilly roots.

Their success was surpassed only by rappers who made a blazing comeback in 1998. After the deaths of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. cast a pall over the rap industry in 1996 and 1997, many pundits figured the music was dead as well. They were wrong. Week after week, rappers like Outkast, Bizzy Bone, DMX, and Canibus established their dominance on the charts and in the mainstream. Snoop Dogg's latest (he dropped the Doggy after splitting from Death Row Records this year) sold 519,000 its first week. Masta P's MP Da Last Don sold 495,000, Method Man's Tical 2000: Judgement Day sold 411,000. Jay-Z's Vol. II...Hard Knock Life became the first rap album to log five weeks at Number 1.

Rappers may have been holding forth with millions of record buyers eager for the latest beats, but for many listeners in 1998, looking to the past was the way to go. Swing music became the latest craze, even showing up on a ubiquitous Gap commercial. Swing nights at clubs became the rage as people were jumpin' and jivin' throughout the night to the music of the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, and Royal Crown Revue. While airplay was still hard to come by for many of these groups, word of mouth and touring fueled album sales. For once, parents and children were grooving to the same music.




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