Elsie Muniz

The Urban Latina.

Kandi and Tiny

Off The Hook: Unreleased demos from the early 2000s!

P!nk

The Truth About Choice.

MQ3

Another shelved R'n'B group from 1997

Shiro

The First Lady of SoulPower.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Suga Holiday: Rollin' On Dubs (Promo CDr) (7ent., 2005)

Having quite a keen interest in underground female R&B groups, here we have yet another one from the mid-2000s. From Georgia, the track almost seems almost like a female take on Nelly's "Country Grammar (Hot Shit)" though I have no idea of the sample used. 

Alessa Jade: S/T (Self-Released, 2003)

Further Latina R&B/pop music with Alessa Jade, a South Florida-based singer who could’ve gone far. She took first place in “Star Power”, a nation-wide competition, and also opened for Carl Thomas in 2002. Of Colombian and Panamanian extraction, she was also one of the artists who opened the “First Annual Latin/Urban Music Festival”, also in 2002. Sixteen at the time, she could’ve quite easily joined the ranks of Xtina and Britney clones (she would’ve certainly given Aguilera a run for her money with the whole Spanish thing) but she somehow never did. Includes a sultry cover of “Loving You Still” which was originally recorded by Tamia for her self-titled album in 1998. Jade cites Tamia is one of her many inspirations. 
 
In an odd stroke of coincidence, an Ecuadorian alternative rock band began recording under her exact same name in 2015. 
 
"Up & coming artist Alessa Jade is a true, rare and soulful talent ready to be seen and heard. A very vocally oriented, versatile singer, Alessa Jade sings Pop, Rock, Hip Hop R&B. Alessa Jade is from Latin Descent, her father is Colombian and her mother is Panamanian and half American. Alessa Jade also sings in Spanish and will be recording her songs in Spanish. Her voice and unique exotic looks captivates her audiences and sets her apart from any other artist in the industry. Born and raised in South Florida, this young lady is often entertaining her family and friends. Thru out elementary and middle school, Alessa Jade took part in many talent shows. At the age of 14, Alessa Jade discovered her passion for performing and joined the drama department to further enhance her amazing talent. Alessa Jade then started taking private vocal lessons, acting lessons and private dance lessons with a local dance school. Alessa Jade has performed for her dance studio recitals, Teen Cabaret, local and state sponsored showcases, Ms. Florida Teen, Ms. and Mrs. Beauty Pageant 2002 and concerts in South Florida. Alessa Jade competed and took first place in "Star power" a National talent competition that travels throughout the United States. She also received an award for the "Highest Points Score" and brought home the "Platinum Award". Alessa Jade opened for Carl Thomas with Bad Boy Records at Club W8th in the village in New York City, New York on August 13th, 2002, Which was promoted by Red Star Productions and Octagon who are affiliated with Bad Boy Records. Alessa Jade has also performed for charities such as Make A Wish Foundation and Boggy Creek Gang Camp. A camp funded by Mr. Paul Newman for the Terminally Ill Children In Eustis, Florida. Alessa Jade was also one of the artist who opened for the "First Annual Latin/Urban Music Festival" in Miami on October 13, 2002. located at the "Bayfront Amphitheater: hosted by "Angie Martinez", "Dj Tony Touch" and other performances by City High. Alessa Jade is currently one of the five finalist who auditioned with over 1,000 performers, of all genders and styles of music to be performing at the 2003 Big Time Talent Show event on February 22, 2003 at the Center of Arts Amphitheater in Mizner Park, Boca Raton Florida. Alessa Jade's inspirations have been Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Tamia and many many more. This multi talented 16 year old beauty lights up the stage with her incredible voice and style. A true performer, Alessa jade leaves her audience intrigued and hungry for more."

Down In The Jungle    3:33
Loving You Still    5:33
Respect    4:26
Whoa    4:49
Break My Heart    3:47

Monday, May 9, 2022

Drop-Kick Productions by Sir-Jam Entertainment

Featuring a selection of male & female hip hop and R&B artists, mostly a very Lo-Fi sound on this demo though a few tracks make use of quite a few good samples and instrumentals not limited to Dennis Edwards’ “Don’t Look Any Further” ( “Tears”) and Monica & Brandy’s 1998 hit “The Boy Is Mine” (Kaycee’s “U-Can’t Be Like Me”).  Obviously from the late 90s, I have no idea who anybody is but possibly originating from North Carolina as per a quick search online. 

Thursday, May 5, 2022

P!ink: The Truth about Choice

Prior to finding success as a solo artist at the turn of the millennium, P!nk (then known only as Alecia Moore) was part of an all-girl R&B trio named Choice with two other teenage girls Chrissy Conway and Sharon Flanagan. Signed to LaFace Records, the trio are mostly known for their only song “Key to My Heart” which made it onto the Kazaam soundtrack in 1998. Of course, at the time, nobody really cared and the movie itself was a relative flop. It wasn’t until Moore found success as P!nk that people made it a point to listen to it. The truth was that the group was basically Moore with two backing singers, or at least that’s the way that some producers made it seem. They preferred Moore’s voice and the other two girls were basically relegated to the background. It didn’t sit right with the other two members, particularly Chrissy Flanagan, and the rest was history. The trio – who at one point were the subject of a bidding war between two competing major record labels - recorded at least 20 songs for their debut album according to one producer. Tracks included “Love Is Such A Crazy Thing” and “Let Me Let You Know” (both of which later made it onto P!nk’s debut album) and “Stay”, a Daryl Simmons track which was later recorded by Destiny’s Child for “The Writing’s On The Wall” in 1999. A few years back, a producer/writer who worked with the group talked of releasing the set in its entirety to iTunes but as of 2022, nothing much has materialized. At one point he admitted ripping the masters (from Digital Audio Tape) to be “overwhelming”. Fortunately owing to connections that we have, somebody sent us a very brief sampler that the producer sent him before going MIA. What is there to say about it? The production is fantastic, as you would expect from LaFace Records in the 90s. Immediately we start out with “Love Is Such a Crazy Thing” and “Let Me Let You Know”, two tracks which were later included on P!nk’s debut album. Nothing much sounds different; in fact, these are the exact same recordings (the former later made it on to a LaFace Records sampler in 1998 and yes, I can confirm personally that it is the exact same recording from “Can’t Take Me Home”.) The rest of the set hovers between slinky mid-tempos and schmaltzy soul ballads with Moore’s former  ”R&B Diva” vocals and riffs primed to the max, a sound that worked so well for her before she decided to "grow up". The writer/producer Joseph Priolo was keen to release the project but the last I could see, needed clearance from attorneys. Maybe one day, it will finally see the light of day.
 
Rumored song titles:
 
1. Love Is Such a Crazy Thing  
2. Let Me Let You Know  
3. Players  
4. Stay  
5. I Love My Boo 
6. Just To Be Loving You  
7. Make Cool  
8. Gotta Be You and Me  
9. My Love Is Gone  
10. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang  
11. If I Ever See Heaven Again  
12. Don't Go Breakin' My Heart  
13. Key To My Heart  
14. Can't Wait Another Day

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Shiro: From the Princess of A Lighter Shade of Brown to The First Lady of SoulPower

Shiro Stokes’ originally started out in an early incarnation of the singing group For Real (then stylized as 4-Reel) before becoming the princess of Chicano rap duo A Lighter Shade of Brown in the early 90s. With appearances “On A Sunday Afternoon” and “Latin Active”, the former of which peaked at no #39 on the Billboard Hot 100, Stokes was to release her first album “Can We Talk” via Scotti Bros in 1995. The perfect marriage of G-Funk and smooth R&B, it didn’t really get the attention it deserved back then. Sadly most of the acts on this label – which was I am guessing semi-independent – did not last beyond one album or single. In 1998, Stokes was picked up by Soulshock & Karlin and rebranded as “The First Lady of SoulPower”. Then at the top of their game, their trademark tinkly and melodious sound was all over her two singles “I Like” and “Good Love” so what happened? Another label that couldn't get their act together in the 90s was Noo Trybe Records. Starting out in 1994, they operated as the urban subdivision of Virgin/EMI Records and became the distributor for Houston, TX-based hip hop label Rap-A-Lot Records up until its demise in the late 90s. This was the most successful venture that they had with acts such as Luniz, AZ and others making the Billboard top 200. Sadly the R&B wing of the label was not as successful with non-existent albums from One Shade (1995), girl trio MQ3 (1997), Teddy Martin (1996) and lastly Shiro. Stokes’ album, titled “Life Goes On”, has been something Stuart and I have been after for years after the artist herself confirmed its existence to us. She had a tape in her possession but did not feel comfortable about leaking it due to “copyright reasons.” So we waited patiently until it showed up and last year the anticipation was finally over, well sort of. A Noo Trybe snippets tape showed up on eBay with excerpts of tracks from the album in question. After a very close bidding war between Stuart and a notorious Chicago-based collector who almost everybody knows about, the tape was eventually won to us for the pricey sum of $1200. $1200 for just over eleven minutes of music. This had better blow us away we thought. Ranging between 1:29 and 2:12 minutes in length and crossfaded for a seamless listening experience, it along with MQ3 turned out to be among our most enjoyable finds from last year, even if it was just over eleven minutes of music in total. From the very ardent “All I Wanna Do” to the sweetly mournful “Rainy Days”, this would’ve made for a truly fantastic album, proving that Soulshock & Karlin were more than apt to take the lead entirely on a project instead of merely being relegated to contributor status. I quite enjoyed Tracie Spencer’s 1999 album but to me, she was always lacking something. Stokes had this and more in my opinion but sadly the label let her down. 
 
 

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Another demo cassette haul

Out of CA, another 90s demo cassette haul and a mixture of modern soul, contemporary R&B and G-Funk flavas by a selection of male and female artists. I have no idea of the origin of any of them - there are no inlay cards - but I am leaning more toward a local producer or musician, possibly from the Bay Area. Two of them appear to be unmastered vocal session recordings. The smooth mid-tempo "Maken Me Weak", sung by an unknown female artist, is undoubtedly the highlight of the set.  

Saturday, April 16, 2022

More R&B/soul obscurities on cassette tape

Funky early 90s New Jack Swing and jazzy hip hop soul featuring writing and production from Keith Woodson (formally of Ta Mara & The Seen), Death Row Records’ Tony Green and Paul Fulton (formally of The Chips.)  Veronica appears to be a demo tape or at best a self-released project; it has an inlay but the cassette shell is completely blank while Asia did not come with a J-Card at all. I can find nothing about either artist but Asia possibly hailed from Queens, NY. 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Sexy: Dar-Rell: I Wanna Make Love...Not Just Sex EP (Strictly & Company, 199x)

Originally featured on Urban Collective: Volume 1, Stuart discovered this rarity back at the beginning of the year. I don’t know much about him but it seems he released two hip hop singles in the early 90s as Dar-Rell Strickland. It seems he was originally from Detroit, MI or at least based there at one point. A mixture of sexy quiet storm R&B and funky laid back jams with inflections of classic soul vocals and bustin’ rhymes, his track “I Wanna Make Love (Not Just Sex)” was one of the highlights of CD it was featured on in 1996 (see my previous post here.) 
 
I Wanna Make Love Not Just Sex 3:26 
I'm Just A Player 4:00 
Take 'Em Off 4:22 
Can You Get Up On This 4:11 
 
 

V/A: Urban Collective Vol. 1: R&B (Hi-Bias Records, 1996)

More top tier R&B showcasing the best in Canadian urban talent in the mid-90s. Again this has been something I have wanted for a long time after falling in love with many of the artists I heard on BeatFactory’s Groovessentials and other similar compilations from the Great White North. Again there are a lot of great tracks here that you won’t find anywhere else from Brent Taylor, Cleo-Patra,  Unique and others. Unique in particular were one of the highlights of Blacklisted Records’ Tha Crab Theory CD which I posted back in 2019 while Brent Taylor’s “I Wanna Get Freaky” is possibly the sexiest quiet storm song I have ever heard with “I Wanna Make Love” (Not Just Sex)” by Dar-rell (Strickland) a close second. Other tracks such as Cleo-Patra’s “Love You Right” and “Life Is Not The Same” by Tanya Mass are funky and rhythmic 90s R&B. Altogether an excellent compilation of 90s underground R&B talent, one which could definitely rival anything the US had to offer at the time. 
 
Denosh - Counting The Dayz 5:16   
Yolisiwa - Love Me Like I Love Ya (Off The Hook Mix) 4:11 
Daryl West - Nasty    4:11
Camille Douglas - Keep It That Way    4:35
Carlos Morgan - Feelin' Alright    4:12
Brent Taylor - I Wanna Get Freaky (Milestone Mix)    4:30
Cleo-Patra - Love You Right (Flava Mix)    3:26
M2P - Do You Love Me    3:59
Oval Emotion - It's Not The Right Time (StoneHenge Mix)    3:46
Unique - More Than Friends (Vocal Mix)    4:31
The McAuley Boys - In Another Lifetime    5:14
Dar-Rell - I Wanna Make Love (Not Just Sex)    3:29
Tanya Mass - Life Is Not The Same    4:26
Andrea Skeen - Take My Love (R&B Mix)    4:13
Renae - I Like The Way (831 Yaard Mix)    4:25
George Chambers - Nice & Slow    4:09

V/A: Solid Soul (Masiv Music, 1999)

From Blacklisted to BeatFactory, over the years we have found some great stuff from our Northern neighbors and this set Solid Soul is absolutely no exception. Volume 2 which I acquired back in 2019 was a bit of letdown. With 90% of the album focused on showcasing alternative hip hop (and with the main focus on Nigel Williams and his awful group The Pocket Dwellers), it is something that I don’t listen to all that often. Though I was disappointed, it was then that I discovered this album was actually a continuation from a CD that I had long since had in my want list and finally at the beginning of the year, I was at last able to get it. Unlike the second volume this set is 100% R&B and aside from the compulsory tracks by Carlos Morgan and Wade O. Brown (who are both great in their respective ways), there is a lot of great stuff here that you won’t find anywhere else not limited to “She Knows” by Meesah, “Everything and Anything” by 360 and “You Did Me Wrong” by Divine Earth Essence (aka Michelle “Divine” Brown or Boo Boo Brown from her earlier work.) Why Volume 2 was not of this same caliber I don’t know but it seems the original label Masiv Music shut up shop at the turn of the millennium and licensed their music out to somebody else. 
 
Meesah - Ride Wit Me 4:11 
Carlos Morgan - Watcha Got 3:51 
Divine Earth Essence - You Did Me Wrong 3:41 
Wade O Brown - No Other Woman 4:19 
Kaybe - I Cant Love You 4:13 
Fara - Pretty Brown (Dappas Mix) 5:20 
360 - Everything & Anything 5:48 
Wade O brown - Give Me The Chance 4:29 
Meesha - She Knows 4:30 
Simply E - Na Na 4:41 
Carlos Morgan - Watcha Got (Audiolab Remix) 3:26 
 
 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Caren Handley: I Wanna Be Loved (CDS) (T-Barr Records, 1997)

From the latter part of the mid-90s, a great slow jam from an unknown Atlanta female artist who visually bears more than a striking resemblance to a young Whitney Houston. No information to be found on her anywhere but the song’s instrumentation and vocal arrangements reminded me slightly of “Wait For Me” by Chalant. It was produced by Keith “Keecho” Rawls formally of the 80s R&B duo Jamm and looking at the track info for Chalant’s own song I was astounded to see it was produced by Fred “Freddie Boy” Sawyers, the other half of the duo. I guess I have a great ear. 

Karen Workman: Demo - Unknown from Atlanta, GA

From a closed down community radio station in Atlanta, GA (WRFG), another obscure demo from an unknown female artist. Though it’s on a CDr, the music is a mixture of early 90s modern soul and bouncy swing-beat that originally sounds like it was recorded onto analog cassette tape. Not full songs sadly but along with Andre and Kaize Adams, one of the better things to come from this particular seller on Discogs.