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.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Cerah: For The Sake Of Love (Dunmore Music Promotions, 1994)

From University Park, IL, another hidden modern soul gem that somehow got lost in the jazz category. The CD is not really jazz but more quiet storm soul with two tracks of club/house music (4, 11.) I don't know anything about the artist or label but the title song For The Sake Of Love was originally a cover of the Isley-Jasper-Isley song of the same name.

Prologue 0:44
Holding Out 5:00
365-24-7 5:10
Ooh Qui (Club Dance Version) 9:35
Love To You 5:51
Not Like This 3:28
Everlasting Love 8:06
For The Sake Of Love (Jazz Version) 5:56*
For The Sake Of Love (Vocal Version) 5:57
Epilogue 0:53
Ooh Qui (Basketball Version) (Bonus Track) 4:35

*Instrumental version

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Yvonne: 9614 (New Breed Records, 2000)

Obscure pressing from a Cali artist and a blend of Faith Evans-inspired R&B and hip hop soul with a smooth West Coast twist. No information about the artist but she appeared to be from the greater L.A. area. The disc itself is a labelled CDr but doesn't appear to be a private pressing. Sadly the last track - marked as a bonus track - has an unknown defect.

Intro- Domestic Violence 0:57
9614 4:32
"69" 3:41
Waiting 3:47
Never Give Them Up 4:43
Intro- Cry Little One 0:52
Secrets 3:00
I'm Not Going 3:34
Heat 4:05
Your Baby 3:22
Take My Love 3:54
Hysteria 4:32
What About Me 3:24
G To New Breed 0:39
Hotel California (Bonus Track) 5:41

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Hälsa: Number One (CDM) (Balance Records, 1995)

Again discovered on a popular shopping site, an obscure mid-90s indie artist whose only song mixes house rhythms with soul music. The end result is not that much dissimilar to Chicago-style house music but more in line with smooth modern soul. Not a wealth of information to be found about the singer but according to a Billboard article from '95, she was formally a classical singer. 

Smooth Radio Edit 4:03
#1 Radio Mix 4:02
Extra Smooth Mix 5:48
#1 Extended 5:31
Judge Mix #1 5:54
Judge Mix #2 4:59
Instrumental 4:53

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Aysia Nite: Duality...(DEA/Third Eye Records, 2000)

Rare indie release from an Asian-American artist and primarily early 2000s urban pop with a few straight forward pop songs. Unearthed during a keyword search on a popular shopping site, I don't know anything about her but her CD spawned at least one single I Ain't The One which was released via Sw-South West Label Group in the year 2000.

Really Really 3:10
I Ain't The One (Remix) 4:04
Beautiful 4:29
Guilty 3:38
Haters 3:44
Don't You Want This 4:04
Duality 3:48
Promise Me 4:28
Share My World 3:37
Diggun U 3:23
Come On 3:33
Meant To Be 3:44
I Ain't The One 3:55

Donna Renee: Keep On Believing [JP Retail] (Amber Records, 1998)

Originally from Cleveland, OH, Donna Renee is yet another U.S. singer who found success in Europe and Japan in the 90s. Signed to German label Amber Records, she released one single Follow which reached no 9 in the dance charts there before doing a short stint on UK label Dome Records with Somewhere. Despite the high praises in the article bellow, her album was only ever picked up for release in Japan where she was compared to fellow expat Elisha La 'Verne. The producer of the work is Berlin-based producer George Brasch who remixed quite a few popular tracks during the 90s under his two alias' "Redbone" and "Amber." Although quite polished, a few tracks are slightly poppy-sounding but others such as Somewhere and Sad To Say draw definite parallels to the 90s hip hop soul sound of Mary J. Blige and others like her.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Love² (Love-Square): Everything [JP Retail] (Cutting Edge, 2000)

From Jaki Graham to UK R&B quartet First Class, Japanese label Cutting Edge did good in the mid 90s and early 2000s with picking up quality Western acts who were previously unknown anywhere else. Some were ex-pats while a few were previously on major labels such as RCA and had their contracts brought out when they failed to make an impact in their home countries. The above duo fits the former category I believe. From what I could translate from the Japanese-language booklet, both vocalists were U.S. ex-pats living in Tokyo, Japan. Both were former session singers and the fair-skinned girl in particular worked with Run DMC in the early 90s. Though it was released in 2000, their album - a mixture of neo soul and urban pop - was originally recorded in 1998.

Intro 1:16
If I May Be... 4:21
Storm 5:45
Higher 4:34
Been Around The World 4:07
Care For Me 5:22
Everything(I See) 4:42
Fairytale 4:25
Choosy Lover 5:07
I'm So Tired 4:35
You Can't Forget 5:31
Outro 3:29
If I May Be(T.Kura Extended Mix) 5:31
If I May Be(Mastro T's Anthem Mix) 4:35

Proven Innocent: And Then There Were 2 (First Priority Music, 1992)

From Staten Island, NY, here's a further R&B duo that went nowhere in the early 90s and was signed to Atlantic Records at the same time as a previous act I posted M&M (they were both mentioned in a Billboard article from late 1992.) While M&M were more New Jack Swing, the above act was more rap/hip hop based. Combining this with R&B/soul vocals, they were not dissimilar to some of the other groups previously mentioned here who were signed to Ichiban's Wrap Records in the early 90s such as The Flyy Girlz and Eve. Sadly in the same fashion as M&M, after one single and the above album they disappeared completely but did make a rather low-key reappearance two years later where they reinvented themselves as a thug rap duo.

I'm Not The One 4:13
Attitude 4:44
U Gets None 3:42
For The Lover In You 5:54
You're The One 4:12
Mental 4:46
Run Around 4:34
Flirt 4:18
I Don't Want To Waste My Time 4:10
Practice What You Preach 4:00
Shout Out Song 5:15

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

NV: Silly Fool (Promo VLS) (Bring It On Records, 200x)

The second and final single by obscure UK R&B trio NV and released for promotion only in the early 2000s. Very TLC-esque, it was produced by UK production outfit Full Crew who were mostly known in the mid-to-late 90s for remixing every popular R&B/pop song that hit the top 20 along with The Ignorants and Blacksmith. As stated in my previous post, the trio appear to be British but the label that released their singles was based out of Washington DC.

Many thanks once again to Stuart for the contribution. 

Silly Fool [Full Crew Club Mix] 4:57
Silly Fool [Radio Edit] 4:27
Silly Fool [Bonus Cut] 4:07

NV: Tell Me (VLS) (Bring It On Records, 200x)

More top quality UK R&B without 2-Step or eurodance influences...Another very obscure girl group that has appeared on a few UK-only compilations. Outside of this they released two vinyl-only singles via a small U.S. label, including the above cover of Groove Theory's 1995 original Tell Me. Unfortunately I can't tell you anything about them; they appeared to be produced by UK musicians but their label was based out of Washington DC. Other than that, they appear to have been influenced by Destiny's Child, especially on the b-side.

Big thanks again to Stuart for the contribution.

12" Single
Tell Me [Radio Edit] 3:48
Tell Me [Remix] 4:21
Keep On Pushing [Album Version] 3:44
Tell Me [Accapella] 3:43

Tell Me [Full Crew/Wiz Da Kid Mix] 3:51
Tell Me [Killaloop Mix] 4:39
Tell Me [Killaloop Mix Instrumental] 4:37

First Class: Strictly Rollin' [JP Retail] (Cutting Edge, 1998)

More obscure R&B/swing from the late 90s and from a British quartet whose only album was released in Japan. They released one single via RCA Records in '97, the title track Strictly Rollin'  but I don't believe it charted and nothing was heard from them again. I don't know if RCA dropped them or not but a few years later the rights to a further single (Do You Have A Girlfriend) and their album were acquired by Japanese label Cutting Edge, a label famous for picking up rejects for distribution in Japan. Their album is a solid one - quality UK swing before the obsession with Destiny's Child and 2-step garage - but it is unfortunate that they emerged at a time when The Spice Girls were at their peak. All tracks were produced by Danish producer Lucas Secon with additional production by C-Swing and Cutfather & Joe.

Monday, July 11, 2016

M&M: Get Ta Know Ya Betta (Atlantic, 1992)

Formally two thirds of the late 80s R&B trio Abstrac', this duo put out a killer swingbeat album in '92 as M&M (an acronym for their first name initials Marcy and Mary.) Sounding like it was produced by new jack impresario Teddy Riley, it was actually produced by Herb Middleton and spawned two singles Talk To Me and the title track Get Ta Know Ya Betta before it was quickly forgotten about. It was poorly promoted by Atlantic, as was an album by a similar duo at around the same time Proven Innocent (coming soon.) Strong vocalists to boot, it is such a shame but even back then I guess folks just weren't ready for something that wasn't watered-down pop music...

Feel No Shame 4:42
We're Falling Apart 4:27
Talk To Me 4:09
Never Let Me Go 4:17
My Way 4:41
Get Ta Know Ya Betta 4:12
Losin' Control 4:51
If I Give My Love To You 4:59
Go On 5:11
You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling 5:25

Harem: S/T (Motown, 1995)

Another group that I know nothing about, this time on Motown Records in 1995. There are two ladies on the front cover but the group is actually a quartet and the genre of music could be best described as mostly a very lush, ambient mix of new jack swing, freestyle and smooth R&B. It spawned two singles Is This What You Want and All U Need which seemed to be promotional only. As with later groups that also went nowhere Shades (1997) and Her Sanity (2002), they probably weren't given the greatest amount of exposure. Other than 702 in the late 90s/early 2000s, I can't recall a single other female R&B group on Motown and later Universal Motown that actually went anywhere.

Fantasy Woman - Harem's Theme 3:53
Harem's Theme Interlude 1 0:33
Desert Night 3:58
My World Is Empty Without You 4:55
Harem's Theme Interlude 2 0:28
Is This What You Want 4:30
I Just Want You 4:19
Harem's Theme Interlude 3 0:25
All That U Need 4:05
U Can't Talk To Me 4:00
Harem's Theme Interlude 4 0:51
Come On Baby 3:59
Harem's Theme 3:28

ADT: A Different Taste (Technique Records, 1994)

Mixing dope modern soul, Motown and New Jack Swing, another independent group that most people probably haven't heard of until now. From Waco, TX, their album spawned two singles, the Isley Brothers' cover For The Love Of You and Make A Move but sadly I don't know how much of a wide release any of it actually got. They appear to be the only artist in the label's catalog and there is nothing about them online anywhere (and it's unfortunate to boot that their name is the same as a popular U.S. home security company...)

4 Ever Yours 4:55
Satisfaction Guaranteed 4:55
Second Chance 6:01
Making Love 4:38
Make Me Feel The Heat 5:17
As We Live On 6:53
Someone Like You 5:50
Give Me Back Your Loving 4:25
This Time 5:53
Baby Come Back To Me 5:16
You Got It 6:42
Make A Move 4:27
For The Love Of You 6:19
Is My Microphone On 0:29

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Harmony Innocents: H.I... Naturally (Quality Records, 1995)

Another 90s group that fell under the radar and the early endeavor of former adult film actress-turned-rapper "India". Produced by Lorenzo Pryor (Chico DeBarge, Delano), it spawned one single That's What I Like which had some degree of success in the Billboard Top 100 but sadly the group, who had been performing together since high school, did not last long.

That's What I Like 5:02
Changes 4:27
Love Combined 5:12
Get Wit U 4:23
Don't Fool Yourself 4:58
Crazy Luv 4:12
You're Falling 4:15
Don't Tell Me That It's Over 5:31
Music Box 5:38
Natural High 4:55
That's What I Like (Live) 4:14

As from 2010, this album is available to purchase digitally via the online serve of your choice.

Ladeez 1st: There From The Start (Promo CDS) (RCA, 1993)

A further group on RCA Records in the early 90s that sadly went nowhere. Their only song, a reply to Shai's If I Ever Fall In Love, was originally released via a small local label in Philly before it was picked up by RCA in 1993. Sadly I don''t think it ever got a very wide release, 12" vinyl only from what I can tell, and as with NKRU before them, nothing has been heard from them since. Unfortunately this was to become a common theme with RCA Records in the decade to come (Ericka Yancey, Keesha, to name a few...)

Acapella Edit 4:05
Making Love Edit 4:27

NKRU: Computer Love (Promo CDM) (Kaper Records, 1993)

Another short-lived girl group from the glory days and signed to a division of RCA Records in 1993. Their name an acronym for "Naughty Kreations R Unified", they were known for their cover of Zap & Roger's 1985 hit Computer Love, which was released as a double-A side with Seis Nueve in 1993. Somebody once described TLC as having bitten off of their swagger but this quartet - also employing the use of a rapper - actually came a year afterwards.Unfortunately they never released anything else but about a year later Kaper Records had some degree of success with Blackgirl. As for RCA Records, a similar group Ladeez 1st were also on their roster at around the same time and also went nowhere (see post coming up.)

Computer Love (Radio Edit) 4:04
Computer Love (Album Version) 4:31
Computer Love (Instrumental) 4:30

Friday, July 8, 2016

Starr: Love Affair (EP) (Double Duo Records, 2004)

Amazingly smooth Chi-Town R&B from a further artist I know little about but at least two people involved in the production and distribution are veteran rhythm and blues singers (Stan Mosley, Emmett Garner Jr.) Unfortunately I don't know anything about the artist - her name is simply given as "Starr" - but it is worth noting that she played both piano and bass on all 4 tracks. 

Another Love Affair 4:22
Another Love Affair [Instrumental] 4:02
Let's Get Nasty (Tonight) 4:48
Wanna Be Your Lover 4:23

Simply Sweetie: S/T (EP) (Self-Released, 200x)

Having a Sade-meets-Whitney Houston sort of vibe, more rare rhythm and blues from a further Chi-Town artist I know nothing about. All 3 tracks are gospel but sadly I received this rip w/o cover art so I am unsure about the track titles. If anybody out there has the original please feel free to correct me.

Someone Special 4:45
When You Smile 4:10
In My Heart 6:15

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Asia Blue: Escaping (Promo Cassette) (A&M, 199x)

Shelved by A&M Records in the early 90s, a further short-lived female trio that was the brainchild of veteran British singer-songwriter/producer Barry Blue. They released three singles in 1992: Connect, Boy In The Moon and Escaping, the final two of which were covers of earlier songs by New Zealand pop star Margaret Urlich in the 80s (to some people, the latter song might sound familiar as it served as a minor hit for UK vocalist Dina Carroll in 1996.) A blend of soul, dance and jazz, their sound was uniquely British as apposed to the Americanized New Jack Swing sound employed by later popular groups such as Eternal. Unfortunately it was mostly lost on the British public and their debut LP - originally slated for release in 1993 - was shortly after shelved by the label. Sadly they were one of many British R&B groups who were overlooked in the decade to come.

Boy In The Moon 4:35
Corners Of The World 4:12
Escaping 5:18
Burnin' Flame 4:55
I Want The Right (To Be Wrong) 4:02
Connect 4:36
Hope 4:23
Up To Me 4:35
Lies (You Think I'm A Fool) 3:05
The Journey 2:10