The UK's First Lady of Urban Soul.


Unreleased from 2001, Ne-Yo as "Shaffer".

Mya's Liberation

Mya's doomed fourth album.

Girl Power!

Unreleased R'n'B/UK Garage from 2001.

Local Virginia R'n'B on Demo Tape!

From collector's favorites to new unheard of heat, there is no shortage of great music to be found in Virginia.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Molly M: Demo (EP) (2003)

Further unknown female R&B demo won by Stuaaart on eBay a month or so back. No clues as to who the artist is but from 2003, the style is up tempo urban crossover R&B with a prominent hook, in the same vein as Blaque and a few others. I don’t know for certain but I believe it was produced for Cuddy Entertainment, a label owned by music industry veteran Mark Cuddy. The music here is outstanding but sadly not professionally duplicated; having a slight boxy sound, it appears that all the tracks were possibly transferred to disc from MQ lossy sources back in the day. 
Kinda Guy 3:47 
If You Knew 4:19 
Knockin' 4:20 
Your Boyz Wish 4:06 
9x10 3:53

Monday, June 21, 2021

Raw Talent Presents: Where Dreams Become Reality (EP) (Self-Released, 200x)

From Miami, FL, another random find from a certain popular shopping site and a blend of mid-2000s Hip Hop and Contemporary R&B with Southern and Underground flavors. The tracks were said to be part of a forthcoming compilation but I can’t find any information about that either. I don’t know much about most of the artists featured but at one point Shauna (appearing here with “Missing You”) was signed to Miami label Slip-N-Slide Records and recorded a song with Trina “Don’t Ring My Phone”. She was signed to the label’s Reggae Imprint Slip-N-Slide Reggae but from what I can hear her sound was mostly contemporary R&B. Funnily enough, there was a label called Raw Talent which did specialize in Reggae and Socca music but as far as I am aware these two labels are unrelated. "Check Yourself" by Kola is also R&B and is uptempo with 'hustla' influences. I have no idea who she is but I am pretty certain it is not Kola Marion formally of Doggy's Angels.

Thug Mistress 3:53 Mr. JiTT feat. Ms. Janlce  
Missing You 2:47 Shauna  
Da Life I Lead 3:49 Majest  
Check Yourself 3:51 Kola  
I'm Out Here 4:02 Mr. JiTT 
Jailhouse Rock 4:58 Ms. Janlce  
DaShoShot 4:22 ill Flow feat. Mr. JiTT 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Sharon Lee Williams: Demo (EP) (Lenz Entertainment, 1996)

I have found a lot of great R&B and soul music from Canada over the years; Ora, Divine Earth Essence, Wade O. Brown and many others have more than convinced me that the Great White North was more than capable of competing with the US when it comes to great R&B and soul music. This particular vocalist has a pretty interesting backstory, to me at least. A child of the 80s, I had heard her biggest hit (with Sway) “Hands Up (Give Me Your Heart)” an innumerable amount of times. It was somewhat of a one hit wonder back then but owing to its upbeat Caribbean flavor would frequently be the song of choice for many parties through until at least the early 90s. Prior to Sway, she was also the lead vocalist for Canadian soul outfit Basic Black and Pearl and performed backing vocals for Marc Jordan, The Whiteley Brothers, Bruce Cockburn, Glass Tiger and even Alice Cooper. She released her own single “Your Place or Mine” on Virgin in 1989 but it wasn’t much of a hit. Sadly, outside of Sway, her most notable work to date has been providing the voices for characters on Jim Henson shows and as a vocal coach on Canadian Idol. The above recordings were made in 1996 and the disc – a TDK CD-R74BX – actually dates from around 1997 (outside of the music it contains, it is quite a scarce disc apparently.) Mainly a mixture of gorgeous 90s jazzy modern soul and sophisticated “grown-up” R&B, I am inclined to believe the 7-song set may have been recorded for film of television use but not entirely certain. The production company Lenz Entertainment was established as a company in 1997. Another fantastic find.

I'm Addicted    4:45   
Always And Forever    5:45   
Love Takes No Prisoners    5:09   
If You Could Only See Me    4:26   
Pain    4:17   
Can I Trust You    5:03   
Here I Am    5:11   

Monday, June 14, 2021

No Sweat: Dutch R&B Flava (Dutch Music Foundation, 1997)

My final foray into R&B music from The Netherlands comes with the No Sweat All-Stars, a Dutch R&B collective consisting of all unsigned artists. Released in conjunction with the Dutch Rock Music Foundation, the compilation was a starting point for many careers including that of the Dutch R&B trio Dignity (appearing here with “Talk to Me” and “Hold Me”), Chozen 4 Soul and Voices in Motion. Dignity later signed to Virgin and their self-released debut was released in the Benelux Union only; Voices in Motion also had a brief career with Polydor, releasing three singles between 1998-2000. Other familiar features include Corey (see previous post) and the much sought-after J.Anthony. Altogether two great compilations showcasing the best that The Netherlands - formally a country mostly known for its cheesy Euro dance exports - had to offer back then. Dignity, J.Anthony and Little Brown especially were fantastic.
Keep Your Head Up To The Sky    4:43    No Sweat All-Stars
It Sounds Natural    3:50    J.Anthony
Talk To Me    3:47    Dignity
Till Da Early Morn    4:00    Joshua
Get Of My Back    3:10    Eszteca
Day And Night    4:19    Corey
Loving You    3:54    Voices In Motion
Play    4:24    Little Brown
Can't Live Without You    3:35    Chosen 4 Soul
Hold Me    4:07    Dignity
Another Girl    3:39    J.Anthony
Cruz Over Here    3:37    3rd Millenium
Hold You Tight    3:47    Chosen 4 Soul
Move Around    3:39    Voices In Motion
Down With You    3:42    Solid
All Da Way    4:12    Joshua
Give In    4:53    Eszteca  

Skillz Records Presents: New York • Amsterdam (Skillz Records, 199x)

Further music out of The Netherlands with the above US-themed project featuring many fantastic R&B and Hip Hop artists, some of whom later went on to have moderately successful careers in Europe (Sat-R-Day, Re-Play) and others which have remained popular among collectors only (Corey, Shameka.) Re-Play had a career going back to 1997 on Dutch label Rhythm Records where they recorded songs mainly in their native language but it seems at one point the label Skillz may have had distribution through Rhythm as a later release of theirs by the short-lived Dutch R&B group Natural Impact also had distribution through them (posted here.) Natural Impact does not feature on this particular set and neither does a further artist from those days J. Anthony but it did spawn a few good singles namely the very phat and euphonic “Everything But Love” by Corey (featuring Sadat X) and “Reasons Why” by Shameka (prod. by Dutch talkboxer Werner Kanhai.) All seemed to have garnered releases in the US where assimilation for most of them came pretty naturally. Corey especially had a wealth of experience under her belt at the time including appearances on National TV, as a supporting act for Adina Howard and even took her talents to New York where she survived the stage at The Apollo. She is also featured on  a few other similar compilations released around the same time and finally released her first album in 2006.
Try Love    3:22    Shameka
Everything But Love    3:14    Corey feat. Sadat X
Stop Messing With My Mind    4:55    Re-Play feat. Evil Son a.k.a Sonny Diablo
Make It Happen    4:14    M.O.D.
The After Party    3:59    Phatclip
Flight 704    3:13    Shadows In The Dark
All This Love    4:43    Sat-R-Day
Reasons Why    4:33    Shameka
Sick    4:59    M.O.D.
Glitter    4:52    One Step Beyond

Monday, June 7, 2021

Mo'dest: Modest Girl (CDM) (Phat Butt Wrecka's/BMG, 1998)

Only single by Mo’dest (Monique Loswijk?), an American/Dutch artist who was signed to the indie label Phat Butt Wrecka’s between 1997-1998. The label has been known for quite a few rarities (D-Cypha, 2-Nice) but I won’t be featuring them here, instead choosing to focus on the one quality female artist that nobody else has posted yet. The label’s most well-known release is probably “I Need Your Love” by Triple D and Channo ONE on which the above artist’s vocals can be heard in the R&B mix. “Modest Girl” and a further track by her “Confused” can be heard on a rare promo vinyl credited to Organized Groove (later Glaze.) Written by Chris Gerald (formally in Cella Dwellas?), more quality R&B from the Netherlands that nobody really knows about. The B-side track “Play With Me” is especially smooth. 
Modest Girl (Radio Edit)    3:34
Modest Girl (X-Tended Mix)    4:52
Modest Girl (Dance Hall Remix)    3:45
Modest Girl (Big 'N' Nasteez Remix)    4:32
Modest Girl (Funky Paradise Mix)    3:21
Modest Girl (X-Tra Acapella Mix)    3:28
Play With Me (Late Night Album Version)    3:59

Shanique: Spend Da Night (CDM) (BMG, 2000)

Since the mid-90s, the Netherlands has been another place known for making great R&B music. Fueled by the popularity of producers such as Soulshock & Karlin and later Cutfather & Joe, they had some great artists and bands throughout the 90s and going into the new millennium. I am not going to lie; I do find listening to music by non-native English speakers to be a little hard but a lot of these artists and groups had little to no accents at all. Basically, these artists could hold their own against any of the popular American or British acts at the time. Unfortunately, very few of them have been heard outside of Europe. Produced and managed by Cooly D, Shanique (real name Angelique Koorndijk) began her career in the late 80s on a Dutch TV talent show which also brought notoriety to Dignity’s Edsilia Rombley. In 1999 Koorndijk released two singles as “Shanique.” Both were produced by Dutch hip hop producer Cooly D and were one of a few of the more pop-orientated compositions that the producer did in the mid to late 90s. Neither were very successful despite sounding as phat and radio-friendly as work by fellow Dutch R&B artists at the time. In 2006, she was back on the TV, making it to the semi-finals of the Dutch version of Pop Idol.
Spend Da Night (Radio Mix)    4:08    
Spend Da Night (Bounce Mix)    4:14    
Spend Da Night (Jeep Mix)    3:49    

Saturday, May 29, 2021

J. Red The Nephew: Flooded with Soul (Soul Mop Entertainment, 2001)

The above compilation is actually something I have wanted for a while now, after Napo found an earlier single by J. Red (then going by the name “Red”) while searching through the crates in and around Virginia Beach. Originally from Atlanta, J. Red (real name Jesse Redmond) spent time at Master Sound Studios in Virginia Beach and in Hamilton, NC where he recorded the above compilation. He was originally part of the underground male R&B/New Jack Swing trio Average Guyz in the 90s and released an album “First Come First Served” in 1996. This was when he formed his production company Soul Mop Entertainment LLC which did most of the production. Then going by the name of Mr. Red, Redmond’s talents are again demonstrated on the above compilation which he produced and wrote mostly by himself. Employing the same mind-blowing Jodeci-esque harmonies from his time spent with Average Guyz over some pretty smooth production – from classic baby-making jams to early 2000s bump-N-grind – this compilation is very pleasing to listen to. 
My Men And My Woman (Keya Smith Feat. Josh) 4:28 
Confrontation (Mr. Red) 3:38 
That´s How It Goes (Sherrie) 4:20 
To Say I Love You (Mr. Red) 4:08 
Misunderstanding (Keya Smith) 4:21 
What You Like (Emerald Al) 4:10 
Let Me Know (Mr. Red) 5:27 
God Forgiven (Keya Smith) 5:00 
My Wisdom (Mr. Red) 4:17 
You Don´t Know (Keya Smith) 3:37 
Diggin You (Mr. Red) 3:54 
Rock The Sheets (Mr. Red) 4:03 
I Seen It All (Emerald Al) 3:14 
Roll With Me (Mr. Red) 8:32 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

More indepednent urban music from Nottingham

Further urban music with Raw Talent, a Nottingham-based collective that has been in development since 1999. As per their website, their aim was to “write for, produce, and develop artists”, “putting them on the right road for music deals.” They had some good intentions – their “Stop The Violence” message spearheaded a national campaign and caught the attention of many notable UK artists back then – but the music here is sadly somewhat unmemorable. There are a few half-decent R&B tracks in among the overabundance here of noise, mostly of the grime genre. The collective’s biggest success seems to be their “Stop The Violence” CD which reached no52 on the National Urban Charts. Notable members include Lee Wolfe and Denzie, the latter of which gained some notoriety on the UK Garage scene with his 2000 single “Sorry (I Didn’t Know)”. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

XxPression Compilation CD Volume 1 (XxPression Entertainments/Ace of Jacks Records, 2006)

“At the heart of unsigned talent in the UK”, here is another unique find from Lewsic with a few redeeming R&B/soul tracks that you won’t find anywhere else. The hip hop is typical mid-2000s sample-heavy stuff while the stuff with more crossover appeal is a mixture of neo soul and contemporary R&B with jazzy vocals. There’s no information about any of the artists featured but the label Ace of Jacks Records appears to still be active and is an Entertainment and Media company based out of London. 
Intro "CD Sampler"    1:04    Various Artists
Ghet-To Know    3:16    Rapid
Advanced    3:03    Luca
The Champions 2005    2:31    Phoenix Black
The Senses    3:26    Luca Feat. Jimi Whispers & Rapid
Sekkle Down    3:51    Keezaman
Triz Biz    3:50    Full Triz
On Da Telly    3:05    Rapid
Shades Of Love    3:51    Tobi
Intermission "Contact Details"    0:41    Various Artists
The Pain    3:49    Imagery Feat. Intrigue
Black Featherz (Remix)    3:12    Luca Feat. Ace Of Jacks
Nightmare    3:51    Amman
Ideal World    3:08    A.M.M.O
Raindrops    3:36    Geebag
Take Your Time    3:29    Nita
Sweetalker    3:51    Amman Feat. Luca
Come Together (RMX)    2:29    Phoenix Black
Toolz On Road (RMX)    4:08    Rapid
Let You Know    3:35    Shanique
Summertime Loving    4:05    JP Feat. Sherona Knight
Outro "Accreditation"    0:53    Various Artists

London I Showcase 1: Like It, Love It, Live It (London I Records, 2004)

From London, the first of two rather hip hop heavy compilations with a few redeeming R&B/soul tracks that you won’t find anywhere else. This particular one is a little too heavy on the ragga for me; the label London I or London Individuals was mostly a reggae and dancehall label and a vast majority of their catalog was on 7” vinyl only but there is a gem in the female singer Lee-Anne who is fantastic at singing both reggae and contemporary R&B. “It’s Alright” has since gone on to become one of my absolute favorites. 
Disc 1
Intro    0:14    C.o.L.I.n
Think You're Gonna Get Away    3:22    C.o.L.I.n, Lee-Anne, Kastro, Callybud
Hot Lava    3:36    C.o.L.I.n, Kastro
Pretty Dangerous/Bad Girls Anthem    3:35    C.o.L.I.n, Callybud
Get Out    3:40    C.o.L.I.n, Lee-Anne
Pum Pum Town    4:06    C.o.L.I.n, Kastro, Callybud, Javier el Canario
Cha, Gonna Get You Girl    4:32    C.o.L.I.n, Kastro, Callybud
Disco Bud/Tonight    4:45    C.o.L.I.n, Callybud, Kastro
Get Down Tonight/Shake Your Booty    4:00    C.o.L.I.n, Lee-Anne
Like That    3:21    Kastro
Life    3:43    Callybud
L.I. Here We Go    4:06    Lee-Anne, Callybud
Secure My Love    5:05    Lee-Anne

Disc 2
It's Alright 4:07 Lee-Anne
We're Here For Them Things 3:21 C.o.L.I.N, Kastro
What Is It About 3:19 Callybud
This Is How My Crew Roll 4:12 C.o.L.I.N, Kastro, Lee-Anne
L.I. Is Keeping It Real 3:57 Lee-Anne, Nadine
Wont It 3:32 C.o.L.I.N, Callybud
Carry On (Rendition of Kunta Kinte) 6:26 C.o.L.I.N, Lee-Anne, Callybud
Look Into My Eyes 3:54 Lee-Anne, Callybud
It's That Time Again 4:33 C.o.L.I.N, Kastro
You Are The Sunshine In My Life 3:27 Lee-Anne, Callybud
Still Falling For You 4:38 Lee-Anne, Castro
Comes Back Around To You 4:29 Lee-Anne

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Urban Street Anthems Volumes 1 & 2

Hailed as a collection of “mighty tunes fresh out of the hottest U.S. recording studios and production houses”, “Urban Street Anthems 1” was to be the forefront in breaking new R&B talent to the world. Sort of like an underground version of the “Street Beats” series, it featured many artists that you won’t find anywhere else. Only one volume was ever officially released and was compiled by Nigerian-born singer/songwriter Dee Majek and Morgan Khan, founder of Streetwave Records which brought U.S. street sounds to the UK high street in the 80s. A second volume was under development which seemingly never got beyond the promo stage and featured many of the same and similar artists. I don’t know if Khan had anything to do with this but it did feature input from Majek. Compiled for MAPP Records, some of the tracks later appeared on MAPP’s “Six for Spins” and “Hot On the Heels” series, a rather similar concept to Khan’s own “Street Sounds” series before. Notable features include R&B trio Metropolis, Lafayette Reed, Divine Earth Essence, Wade O. Brown and many, many more...