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, June 30, 2015

Bliss: Can't Deny (CDM) (Beat Factory/BMG Music Canada, 2000)

Along with fellow Canadian R&B group Ora, Bliss first appeared on the Canadian-only urban compilation Groove Essentials 2000 but sadly disappeared after only one single. They were slightly more poppy than Ora, who had more of an underground R&B sound, and were managed by the same people behind fellow Canadian urban acts Kardinal Offishall and Glenn Lewis. They were signed to BMG Canada between 1999 and 2000 and this was their one and only single. They were minimally successful but allegedly didn't have enough backing from their label. I don't know if they ever recorded an album but promotional videos to two further songs Still In Love and Are We are available to watch on You Tube. I don't know why but in each video there is always one less member than before...

Can't Deny (C-Swing Mix) 3:49
Can't Deny (Tyson's Mix) 3:59
Butterflies (Radio Mix) 3:43
Butterflies (Tyson's Midnight Mix) 4:37
Can't Deny (Instrumental C-Swing Mix) 4:51
Can't Deny (Instrumental Tyson's Mix) 3:51
Can't Deny (A Cappella Mix) 3:54
Can't Deny (Derek Brin's Madd Mix) 5:23

 Track 3 previously appeared on the BMG compilation Groove Essentials 2000

Monday, June 29, 2015

3LW: Do Ya/After This (White Label Promo VLS) (2006)

Rare bootleg dressed as an official Jive/Zomba promo featuring two unreleased cuts from 3LW's shelved third album Point Of No Return. The album was scrapped indefinitely when the group were dropped from So So Def's roster in 2006, possibly around the same time that Dupri signed a new distribution deal with Virgin Records. Naturi was totally absent from the group at this time and had been since before the release of their sophomore album A Girl Can Mack. They never fully recovered from all the bad press, most likely a contributing factor to their demise along with Williams' and Bailon's involvement in The Disney Channel group The Cheetah Girls. As said previously, this 12" is not official and was one of a few bootlegs made featuring unreleased songs from the doomed project. This particular one features the Rich Harrison production Do Ya whilst side B features the unknown After This.  Do Ya in particular sounds somewhat similar to Kelly Rowland's 2002 song Can't Nobody but the instrumental is basically just a loop of the song's beginning. A much new and improved sound for the once poppy group with newbie Jessica Benson taking on a much larger role than did Naturi on their earlier stuff... 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

CoCo Short: Krazy 4 U (Co Sho Records Ltd., 200x)

More indie R&B from CA, this time the very first release from L.A.-based gospel artist and practicing minister CoCo Short. A smooth mix of G-Funk and contemporary R&B, it is not mentioned in her back catalog and almost impossible to find. No date of release but possibly post-2000s judging by the sound of some songs...

Intro 0:30
Coco Chun 3:32
Freaks Say Yeah 3:48
Crazy 4 U 3:40
Freaks In The House 4:29
Nobody But You 3:27
When U Get To Know Me 5:03
Naught Not Nasty (interlude) 0:44
I Like 3:43
Ima Gona Getcha 3:31
Somebody Else's Girl 3:50
Dedicated 4:30
Creep'in 3:37

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tina: Let's Ride (Lynch By Lynch Entertainment, 2002)

Sophomore release from Louisiana artist Tina (Ashton) who originally appeared on the scene in '97 with her debut Are U. 'Bout It? Despite being released 5 years apart, the two albums are very similar in style - mainly smooth R&B with hints of R. Kelly-ish production. Sadly I myself came close to passing her up when somebody described her as a 'hip hop rapper from New York' - something which she is most definitely NOT.

Given that it is long out of print and the artist herself, like Shanica Bell, now only records gospel-themed music, this album is not as freely available or as cheap as some of the other indie R&B albums I've posted previously. Her debut especially trends at three figures!

Let's Ride 1:45
30 Seconds (Feat. Beelow) 4:45
A Man Can Dish It 4:04
He's Loving Me 4:13
Baller Skit 0:54
My Baby's A Baller 4:57
I'll Light The Candles 4:58
The Storm 4:11
I Told U 4:33
Ladies Night Skit 0:41
Ladies Night 4:33
Interlude -- Thank You 0:51
Do My Thang 3:25
Sorry 4:55
You Were My Love 4:45
30 Seconds (Urban Mix) 4:49
Broken Heart (That Time Can't Mend) 3:41
Hot Spot 4:07
So Sick 5:00
It's On 2:53

Friday, June 26, 2015

Zion: S/T (Zion Records Inc, 2003)

Another decent indie album from the turn of the millennium, this time hailing from Miami, FL. and released via the artist's own private label Zion Records Inc.. A mixture of neo-soul, smooth and contemporary R&B flavors with jazzy, sultry vocals, the album spawned one single Blowin' Me Up (Callin' Me) which apparently made the Hot R&B/Hip Hop singles chart back in '03. Similar to Chante Moore but with a slight ethnic edge.

I brought myself a physical copy but it is available as a digital download in the U.S. so I won't be posting any samples on this blog. Instead visit the artist's own site here.

Blowin' Me Up (Callin' Me) 3:18
Mr. Ex (Featuring Omega & Delray) 3:51
Give It to Me 3:09
Be Your Baby 3:57
Would You Love Me 4:12
Got Luv 4 Ya 3:46
Let You Go 4:00
Up in the Club 3:34
Fever 3:58
I'm Sorry 4:30
Those Eyes 4:03
Baby I Love You 3:46

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Traneen: Diary (Infinite records, 2000)

Mega rare smooth R&B from St. Louis, Missouri...usually goes for hundreds of dollars but I am extremely fortunate... The artist previously opened for MO rapper Domino and had been compared to both Lauryn Hill and Faith Evans but her career, unfortunately, was a short-lived one that never really made it beyond the far reaches of her home town.  Regardless, she did manage to hook up with Bobby Crawford (formally of the male R&B vocal group Ol' Skool) on track 4. Apparently the album did produce three singles Come On, Who's That and Feel It but these are all just as obscure. An amazing album from beginning to end.

I am unsure about the piano sample used in track 5 but I have heard it in at least one other song (Taste This from Mya's 2004 album Moodring.)

Intro 0:58
Come On feat. Ajule 4:34
Sum Lyke It feat. Payback & JT Smooth 5:05
It's On feat. Bobby Crawford 5:45
Do To You 4:43
Feel It 4:18
I Promise feat. Chocolate Tai 4:09
Since U Interlude 1:25
Who's That 4:36
Call Him 5:01
Handle It 5:03
Crazy 4:44
Fools 4:51
I'm Over You 4:12

Monday, June 22, 2015

Malaysa: Finally ! (Mae Dae Records/NuMillennium Distribution Group Inc., 2002)

Moving away from groups, I shall now give a brief mention to a few of the more decent-sounding female soloists who released independently in the late 90s and early 2000s. While a a lot of collectors heap hype, prestige and value on indie-soul artists - regardless of the quality of the vocals or the production used - I am a little more strict. I won't waste anybody's time here on vanity projects from failed singers that are relatively tone-deaf or any production that sounds outdated or like it was composed during a junior high school music lesson. And so we begin with the above singer who was based out of L.A. in the early 2000s and had a sound and persona similar to Mary J. Blige. This appears to be her one and only release, possibly on her own label, and is a blend of hip hop soul and contemporary R&B with G-Funk and southern influences. I don't think that it spawned any actual singles and aside from appearing as a featured vocalist for a dance/house act in 2011, the artist herself sadly no longer appears to be active. Definitely one of the stand-out ones so far.

Movin' On 3:36 1
Private Party 3:58
Your Wrong 3:46
One Of Those Things 3:54
I Wanna Party (Original) 3:32
Weekend Girl 3:27
Don't Know 3:49
I Wanna Party ( Kotic Remix) 3:43
Double Life 4:08
Serious 4:45
Serious (Extended Mix) 7:18
Bonus Track : I Don't Give A Damn 4:21

Sunday, June 21, 2015

2PM: I Got You Where I Want It (Intersol Entertainment, 2001)

Obscure French R&B duo with a few catchy tunes. They sing in English but their French accents are extremely prominent. Not for everyone but something in their vocal harmonies and tone does remind me of Sade slightly.

French Kiss 3:53
I'm Sorry 4:12
I Got You Where I Want It 3:43
No One But You 3:48
Say It Again 3:32
I Just Can't Take Anymore 3:59
It's A Game 3:39
Compare 3:40
How Can I 3:37
I Just Can't Take Anymore (Blaise Remix) 3:56

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Rhona: S/T [JP Retail] (Epic Records In'l, 2001)

Before she joined En Vogue, Rhona Bennett was one of a handful of acts signed to Jerkins' Darkchild Records imprint for Sony/Epic Records in the early 2000s along with rapper Fats and female R&B quartet So Plush. Unfortunately, possibly owing to Epic over exceeding their budget ($30 million!) on Michael Jackson's comeback album at around the same time, Bennett never got the promotion she deserved and plans for a domestic release of this collection was shelved. Instead it saw a limited release in some European countries and in Japan (where it was issued with a bonus Darkchild remix of the one and only single Satisfied.) Though I am guilty of preferring Jerkins' more poppier arrangements, this is a good album. It's a lot maturer than his other work from that time, though the bonus remix of Satisfied sounds a lot like something Brandy might've done.

Satisfied 4:23
The Best Of Me 4:33
Take What Comes To You 3:52
The First Time 5:20
Last Goodbye 4:20
Time Will Tell 5:02
Miss The Way 4:01
I Will 4:57
I Want To Know What Love Is 4:40
Look To The Sky 4:31
The Meaning Of Love 4:35
Satisfied (Another Darkchild Remix) 4:45

So Plush: S/T (Advance) (Epic, 2000)

Along with Rhona Bennett and NY rapper Fats, female R&B quartet So Plush were the third and final act to be signed to Jerkins' Darkchild Records imprint of Sony/Epic Records in the early 2000s. They had everything going for them and many big names in the music industry (probably most of whom Jerkins was working with at the time) were quite keen to get their hands on a copy of this album. Jerkins was at this point one of the most in demand producers in the business but sadly for unknown reasons Darkchild Records

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tamar: Ridiculous (Advance CD) (Dreamworks, 1999)

Tamar's debut album was re-worked many times before it finally hit the shelves in 2000 and to my knowledge there are at least two promotional CDs out there with different track-listings; this is an advanced promo of the album while it still had the working title "Ridiculous" and features one track that never made the final cut "Respect Me." This upbeat track took the place of the Christopher 'Tricky' Stewart produced track "Get Mine" and was produced by Tim Kelley and Bob Robinson (AKA Tim & Bob.) Another CD-R promo (04D01509049 0127302) features "Respect Me" and two other tracks ("Just Cuz", "Let Him Go") from the promotional 12". There is no date on this promo, though I'm guessing it was issued a little after the 12". It only has rear artwork-the generic sort with record company logos on that is commonly used for this type of thing-but unlike the other promotional disc, this is an actual professional CD rather than a in-house CD-R. 

Get None (Featuring JD & Amil) 3:50 *
Your Room 4:15 **
Respect Me 4:14 **
No Disrespect 3:34 ***
Can't Nobody 4:33 #
Tonight 4:20 **
Once Again 4:15 ##
If You Don't Wanna Love Me 3:59 #
You Don't Know 4:07 **
I'm Over You 4:03 #
Words 3:56 **
The Way It Should Be 4:40 #
Miss Your Kiss 4:20 **
Money Can't Buy You Love 4:32 ##

*Produced by Jermaine Dupri
**Produced by Tim Kelley & Bob Robinson
***Produced by Missy Elliott
#Produced by Christopher 'Tricky' Stewart
## Produced by Darrell "Delite" Allamby

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Forshé: Virginity (Eddie Holland dba Holland Group, 2001)

Another fairly decent indie R&B group, this time signed by Edward Holland (formally of Holland-Dozier-Holland) in the late 90s-early 2000s. They released two singles (Someone Else's Guy and Dog Food) which pretty much went unnoticed and their album was not an easy one to find. Definitely one of the best so far though. Very contemporary-sounding and pretty much in line with many other late 90s/early 2000s female R&B groups already mentioned on this blog, but if I could compare them with anyone specifically it would probably be TLC. They definitely have their same in-your-face attitude as regards the opposite sex, something that I've only ever seen a few other female groups pull off without sounding cheesy or just plain silly. All tracks are R&B with the exception of track 15 which sounds like it was inspired in part by Janet's 1993 song Throb...

Dog Food 4:15
Interlude Virginity (With Maia) 1:25
Won't Get It 3:51
Never Tell 4:39
My World Is Empty Without You (Love Is Empty Without You) 4:21
Don't Like Us Like That 4:27
Someone Else's Guy 4:11
Just What A Woman Wants 4:20
Checked In, Checked Out 4:15
Lover Come Over 4:25
Nothin' Comes But Mornin' 4:24
When It Comes 4:35
Interlude Virginity (With Kelli) 1:14
Body Shop 3:44
Beat It Up 3:38
Dog Food (Johnny Terry Version) 3:58
Won't Get It (Brian Wilson Version) 4:20

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Toni Braxton: How Could An Angel Break My Heart (Brazilian Promo CDM) (BMG Brasil, 1998)

Another Brazilian rarity from Braxton, this time featuring exclusive down-tempo remixes of her 1998 single How Could An Angel Break My Heart. The remixes were done by Brazilian DJ, DJ Cuca; an earlier example of his work can be found on the Brazilian CD maxi promo to Un-Break My Heart where he transformed the original ballad  into a funky down-tempo production. Both CDs are hard-to-find but the above one, in my opinion, is probably the rarer of the two. I didn't even know it even existed until a few months back. The main production here incorporates a sample of Spandau Ballet's 1983 song True, which, surprisingly, goes rather nicely over the original vocals. Also included as well is the original remix version with Babyface. 

Thank you again to Flavio for giving me the exclusive opportunity to buy this. 

How Could An Angel Break My Heart (Album Version) 4:22
How Could An Angel Break My Heart (Remix Version Featuring Babyface) 4:22
How Could An Angel Break My Heart (Cuca True Radio Edit) 4:10
How Could An Angel Break My Heart (Cuca True Club Mix) 6:23
How Could An Angel Break My Heart (Album Instrumental) 4:20

Toni Braxton: I Don't Want To (Brazilian Promo CDM) (BMG Brasil, 1997)

Rare promo CD of Braxton's single I Don't Want To featuring exclusive disco and dance remixes for Brazilian radio play only in 1997. Both appear to be nothing more than beats and keys over the original  R. Kelly production but are very rare regardless. Also includes all the remixes by Frankie Knuckles and Satoshi Tomiie. Thank you once again to Martin from Peru for this contribution to my collection.

I Don't Want To (Single Mix) 4:19
I Don't Want To (Frankie Knuckles Classic Mix) 3:55
I Don't Want To (Frankified Club Mix) 10:59
I Don't Want To (Classic Club Mix) 10:59
I Don't Want To (Deep Jays Delight Mix) 9:14
I Don't Want To (Disco Extended) 6:38
I Don't Want To (Disco Radio) 3:59
I Don't Want To (Dance Extended Mix) 5:50
I Don't Want To (Dance Radio Mix) 3:55

Thursday, June 11, 2015

J-7'even: Taste (CDM) (Richboy South Ent., 2002)

Another independent R&B group from the early 2000s, this time hailing from Georgia and produced by Rico Lumpkins (TLC's Fanmail album.) The song, vaguely reminiscent of Beyoncé's 2003 song Baby Boy, is seemingly the only thing of any significance the group put out and this and a further promotional 12" featuring one other song are the sole two things that the label Richboy South Ent. has listed in its entire catalog.

Radio Edit 3:50
Instrumental 3:54
Acapella 3:31