R&B slow jams became popular during the 1990s. Downtempo R&B ballads were nothing new by that decade, but an overall explosion in the popularity of R&B music as a whole increased the popularity of slow jams as well.
The origin of the name can be traced to Midnight Star's 1983 song "Slow Jam," though similar styles were being performed in the 1970s as well. It was the '90s, however, when slow jams began getting a lot more airplay on radio and television, including MTV and VH1. Slow jams usually have a soft sound and emotional lyrics, setting the mood for romance.