Elsie Muniz

The Urban Latina.

Kandi and Tiny

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


The Truth About Choice.


Another shelved R'n'B group from 1997


The First Lady of SoulPower.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

F.A.T.E. Just Because (Unreleased Remixes) (Promo CDr) (Ghetto Works/Warner Bros, 2000)

Super rare CD-R from Queen Latifah's group F.A.T.E. featuring the unreleased remixes of their one and only single "Just Because." The song, released in 2000, never had any actual remixes but evidently some were commissioned. Unfortunately, this disc is just a test copy and was never intended for actual production, not even for promotional purposes. Tracks 1 & 2 feature an uncredited appearance from Sporty Thievz and Grand Puba. It isn't the same remix as featured on the bootleg 12" I posted earlier but the vocal track is the same. I don't know for certain but I believe that the Track Kings, or "Track Kingz" as they are stylized, are a southern hip hop production outfit that later went on to produce songs for numerous high-profile rap artists such as Ludicris and Shawnna in the mid-2000s. I am unsure as to who the producer on the 'Quiet Storm Remix' is but it does sound slightly un-mastered; something about it makes me wonder if they sourced the acappella (which uses the original vocals) from the 12" vinyl single.

Special thanks to Nik over at rnb-you-never-knew.blogspot.com for this most-wanted addition to my collection!

Monday, March 23, 2015

LovHer: Advance Retail Sampler (Def Soul, 2002)

Along with Isyss, LovHer was another R&B girl group that emerged in the early 2000s that was lost in the hype of Destiny's Child. The group, consisting of members from three different states, was formed by former Dru Hill singer Sisqó, in the late 90s and brought to prominence as Def Soul's first female R&B group in 2002. Unlike Destiny's Child, LovHer had soul and some semblance of street appeal about them but unfortunately their time on the music scene was the shortest yet. After the lackluster performance of their first and only single How It's Gonna Be, the band was dropped from Def Soul records and their debut release was cancelled. As far as I am aware, promotional copies of it were only ever pressed onto 2x12" vinyl (DEFF 15505-1.) Known producers are Warryn 'Baby Dub' Campbell and Dragon Records in-house producer Jarod B...

How It's Gonna Be 3:38
Girlfriend 3:45
Love 1:21
Do You Know Me 1:04
Girls Gonna Do 1:44
Don't Leave 1:23
Your Man 1:27
Commitment 1:17
What Could've Been 1:05
You Don't Know Me (Featuring Sisqo) 1:13
Happy Days 1:24
I Don't Want Your Man 1:11

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Cherish: The Moment Sampler (Reprise Records, 2003)

Advance sampler of Atlanta sister quartet Cherish's shelved release for Reprise Records featuring one full song and three intended album snippets. The album was intended to be released in 2003 but was promptly shelved after the failure of their one and only single, "Miss P." (featuring Da Brat.) This and the following track "Stay With You" were written by Kandi Burruss (formally of the R&B group Xscape.) After almost exclusively working with her former partner Kevin 'She'kspere' Briggs, it is a refreshing change to hear her creations over some different beats which, on this particular occasion, belong to So So Def's Jermaine Dupri. While many girl groups simply faded into obscurity, this quartet got lucky when they were rediscovered in 2006 by Atlanta-based producer Jazze Pha. They eventually went on to release two full-length albums via Capitol Records but the later stuff was not as good as the stuff that went unreleased in my opinion. I may simply be biased as I am not really a big fan of the Crunk R&B that became popular in the mid to late 2000s...

Miss P. (Album Version) (Featuring Da Brat) 4:05
Stay With You (Album Snippet) 1:32
Gimmie Some Space (Album Snippet) 1:43
I Thought I Told You (Album Snippet) 1:34

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

F.A.T.E. feat. Sporty Thievz & Grand Puba: Just Because (Koncrete Koas Remix) (White Label VLS) (N/A)

Rare unreleased remix of F.A.T.E.'s one and only single pressed onto white label vinyl and featuring Sporty Thievz and Grand Puba. Sampling Raekwon's 1995 song Incarcerated Scarfaces, it isn't the same remix as featured on the promo CD acetate and features an alternate vocal take. 

The group's one and only album is posted here.

Ericka Yancey: Ericka (Advance Music) (RCA, 1997)

Along with the 'shelving' of Coko's sophomore album Music Doll in the early 2000s, here is yet another massive let down from RCA Records. Yancey, then only 18, was signed to the label in 1997 and released two singles So Good and Wait A While before being sadly shafted when both performed badly in the charts. Her debut album, featuring production from a variety of people who had previously worked with high-profile stars such as Babyface and Anita Baker, was shelved and remains to this day quite a valuable collectors item. It's a golden oldie, before producers such as Rodney Jerkins and Kevin "She'kspeare' Briggs took on a more poppier approach with Destiny's Child, Brandy and Monica. Sadly it never made it past the promo stage and copies of it now go for $100 upwards if you're lucky enough to find one. Two versions are known to exist, one with complete artwork and another with just a generic back insert like this one. Both have the exact same track-listing.

As for Yancey, after her brief career had ended she became a back up singer for the lesser talented Victoria Beckham. As for RCA, they closed their urban division altogether in the early 2000s, bringing about the early death of yet another project I would've liked to have heard, Coko's sophomore album Music Doll.

1 Can't Miss (W.U.N.H)  
2 All In All
3 Not Gonna Beg
4 If Only
5 Wait A While
6 So Good
7 Moving On
8 Do The Right Thing
9 Can I Keep You
10 Make You Mine
11 I Like
12 Longing For You

 No reviews on the album but an article written on Yancey can be found here

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Y?N-Vee: S/T (Advance) (Promo Cassette) (Rush Associated Labels, 1994)

Y?N-Vee (pronounced "Why Envy") were former backing singers for 2Pac and his affiliated group Thug Life. They were signed to the independent Rush Associated Labels in 1994 and released two singles "Chocolate" and "I'm Goin' Down" but aside from gaining a (short) reputation as female pimps they never really went anywhere. Combining rap with contemporary R&B, they were like a West Coast, more street-credible version of TLC (particularly during the "Oooh On The TLC Tip" era.) This is the advance promo of their one and only album, available on cassette only, and features one track "Baby If You Want It" that was later dropped from the final track-listing. Featuring production from Doug Rasheed and a host of other classic G-Funk era producers...

Musiq Presents Aaries - Baby This Love / Strangers To Lovers / Even Though ‎(Promo VLS) (Xclusive, 2003)

Another shelved R&B duo from the early 2000s, this time the product of Musiq Soulchild and signed to Atlantic Records between 2002-2003. The duo, out of Philly, has been doing backup for him since 2000 and in 2001 featured on his song "If I Woulda Knew" for Def Soul records. They released two singles "Strangers To Lovers" and "Even Though" but neither went beyond the promo stage and their then up-coming album "Always Remember" was eventually shelved. Sound-wise, they were more of a legitimate R&B group than any of their contemporaries, with influences ranging from neo-soul to jazz. This EP, pressed onto bootleg vinyl under the Xclusive brand, contains the two earlier songs plus the ?uestlove-produced "Baby This Love," which may or may not have been a consideration for a single at one point.

Unfortunately, the sound quality on this 12" is pretty poor... 

A1 Baby This Love
A2 Strangers To Lovers
B1 Even Though (Vocal)
B2 Even Though (Instrumental)

The 5-track CDr sampler can be found here

Monday, March 16, 2015

Monica: All Eyez On Me [JP retail] (J Records, 2002)

Along with Lyric and fellow solo R&B singer Joi Campbell, Monica Arnold was another one who lost a whole album due to record label politics in the early 2000s. Rather than blame themselves for not promoting their artists properly, in this case the record label were quick to point the finger at bootleggers and file-sharing services for supposedly depreciating it. Though projects from Lyric and Campbell sadly never saw the light of day, Arnold was at least lucky enough to get a limited release in Japan for those who were lucky enough to afford it. Some tracks later appeared on her subsequent release After The Storm but a lot of the best ones did not, such as the brilliant U Deserve (produced by longtime collaborator Dallas Austin) and many of the tight productions by Jermaine Dupri. Altogether All Eyez On Me has an altogether more personal feel than After The Storm which, aside from So Gone, seemed to be comprised of mostly filler material...

I'm Back 3:35
All Eyez On Me 4:04
U Should've Known 4:18
Too Hood 4:04
I Wrote This Song 3:49
U Deserve 4:24
Breaks My Heart 4:27
Ain't Gonna Cry No More 4:11
If U Were The Girl 3:52
What Hurts The Most 4:44
Searchin' 4:30
Just Another Girl [*] 3:23
What My Heart Says [*] 4:02

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Y?N-Vee: 4 Play (Promo CDM) (PMP Records, 1995)

Rare indie R&B from the 90s with 2Pac's former backing vocalists Y?N-Vee (pronouced Why Envy) and the third and final song to be taken from their eponymous debut.  It was released as a promotional single only in 1995 and features production by Doug Rasheed, most widely known for producing Coolio's 1995 single Gangsta's Paradise. Previous singles included Chocolate and a cover of Rose Royce's 1977 song I'm Going Down. Neither made much of an impact in the charts and the latter song in particular was overshadowed by Mary J. Blige's version, which was released at around the same time.

Their album, thus far their one and only, is currently out of print and unavailable on any digital platforms. I have posted the cassette advance here.

4 Play (Barr-9 Radio Edit) 4:01
4 Play (LP Radio Edit) 4:01
I'm Goin' Down (Rare Groove Radio Edit) 3:52

Monday, March 9, 2015

Ericka Yancey: Wait A While (Digipak CDS) (RCA, 1997)

The second and final single to be taken from Ericka Yancey's shelved debut and unique in that it includes a previously unreleased  remix to her previous single So Good. The original was a classic 80s-esque soul jam but the version here has a more contemporary, urban feel with darker production and newly recorded vocals.

Unfortunately, the last thing of interest from this vastly underrated artist...

Wait A While 4:02
So Good (Remix) 4:22

Sunday, March 8, 2015

F.A.T.E.: For All That's Endured (Warner Bros, 2000)

Another group to emerge at the turn of the millennium, this time the brainchild of Queen Latifah and one of the few acts to be signed to her Flavor Unit Entertainment production company in the late 90s. While the group themselves bear more than a passing visual similarity to DC3 (even though around the time that this album was released DC were still a quartet), a few tracks wouldn't have sounded out of place on their earlier albums. Some are a little old skool-sounding and track 4 bears more than a similarity to UK group Eternal's 1999 song What'cha Gonna Do (both songs were produced by The Characters) but overall this is quite an enjoyable album despite having very low-key producers. Unfortunately, they were no match for DC even when they were a quadruplet and after this album dropped, they pretty much faded back into obscurity...

Falling 4:38
Hooked 4:53
They'll Never Be 4:38
Just Because 4:17
If I Tell You Yes 3:53
Bring Your Love 3:55
No More Games 4:08
Soon as You Get Paid 4:45
I Don't Need Your Money 4:37
Why Am I Holding On 5:21
For Sure 4:07
Get Wit' Me 4:32

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Kaycee Grogan: It's Alright (CDM) (Columbia, 1998)

More slept-on R&B from the late 90s with Kaycee Grogan, who was signed to Columbia records in 1998 but disappeared after just one single. Her debut album What Girls Are Made Of was released in Japan only. Featuring an early (uncredited) appearance by Ludicris on track 6...

Trunk bump Mix 4:08
Trunk Bump Mix w/no Rap 4:07
Trunk Bump Mix Instrumental 3:55
Quiet Storm Mix 4:24
Nevin´s Club Radio 3:41
ATL Drop Mix 4:06
LP Version 4:18

Friday, March 6, 2015

Exhale: S/T (Holyfield's Real Deal Records, 2001)

Another group to emerge in the early 2000s, this time on boxer Evander Holyfield's "Real Deal" imprint of Orpheus Records in 2001. Coming out roughly about a year or so before the big explosion of new groups, they didn't really garnish the same amount of attention though their two singles Chillin' In Your Benz and Still Not Over You did chart inside the Billboard top 100 in 2001. Despite the limitations of being independent, they could definitely hold their own up against any others at the time with many of the songs here not sounding out of place on a TLC or DC album. This was in part due to the album's mainstream producers. Unfortunately, it went unnoticed.

It's On 2:49
Chillin' In Your Benz 4:02
Drive Me Crazy 4:18
Still Not Over You 4:00
You Could Never Be The One 5:01
My Number 3:08
I Don't Wanna Fall In Love 3:28
Can We Get Up 4:19
Loved You Once 4:07
Lovin You 3:36
Falling In Love 4:00