Christynette

The UK's First Lady of Urban Soul.

Ne-Yo

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, December 31, 2020

The Best of CD Pool's Street Beats (1996-2001)

Exclusive to my You Tube channel, a chronology of rare tracks lifted from Pioneer CD Pool’s Street Beats compilations from their humble beginnings in the mid-90s to the turn of the millennium when they became 2 disc volumes. Launched in 1996 to coincide with the release of Pioneer’s very first CD DJ decks, a lot of these discs (particularly during the 90s era) featured rare independent artists with quite a few never even seeing a commercial release at all. Others were lifted off vinyl or taken from singles which have since fallen into the general unobtainable category owing to certain ‘collectors’. A ton of great stuff here from fan favorites (Jaye Wallace, Di’Mond) to stuff I have never seen before now. By the early 2000s, the volumes were split across two discs but the quality was not the same with an overabundance of generic garage and grime music and top 10s from notable DJs, artists and producers which just seemed like a waste of a CD. Many thanks again to Lewisic for scouting these out for me!

Monday, December 7, 2020

Shonica: Sampler (EP) (Euro Soul Records, 199x)

Further unknown R&B with Shonica, a Whitney Houston-esque belter I know nothing about but was possibly produced by ex-Curio member Rodney Shelton as per her label mate Dalia. No date of release but the sound is very mid-to-late 90s smooth R&B. Currently being sold for an absurd amount on eBay by the usual European folks, props go out to L and Stuart for spotting it for under ten bucks.
 
Think Of Me    3:47    
Same Old Story    4:03    
If I Was Your Girl    3:58  
  

Jaï: Checking Me Out (CDM) (Wise Guy Records, 2000)

DC-esque R&B from a short-lived Canadian trio headed by Montreal-based singer/songwriter Shaharah Sinclair who along with another member Karina Morin were students at Concordia University in Quebec when this song was written. Having previously only ever seen the white label vinyl I posted back in 2016 and a supposed 1 track promo single on Discogs, I was unaware of the existence of an actual commercial single until Stuart found it on eBay a few months back. They never did anything else but did record a great, urban remix to the track which can be found here.
 
Checking Me Out [Radio]    3:43    
Checking Me Out [Remix]    4:12    
Checking Me Out [Extended Mix]    6:00    
Checking Me Out [Accapella]    4:05   
 

Monday, November 30, 2020

Brownsugar (aka Sugah J. Philips): Sweetness (EP) (Self-Released, 1994)

Earlier release from Canadian R&B singer Shane Philips under a very early alias of Brownsugar. He is better known by his later alias of Sugah J. Philips and I posted his 1997 album “Stay…” back in 2018. A mixture of new jack swing and modern soul, he was signed to the same label as Canadian MC Phatt Al in the 90s and following this was signed to Koch imprint Shoreline Records. He has since turned his hand to a more traditional-sounding and conscious soul sound. 
 
Naturally    4:55    
Brown Sugar    3:40    
Why You Trippin' On Me?    3:40    
You'll Need Someone    4:12    

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Sharissa: Freestyle Mixtape (Promo) (Henchman Entertainment, 200x)

Back when hip hop soul was a relatively new thing and we had Mary J. and Miss Evans racking up hits in the early 2000s, there was a third artist that could’ve hung with them back then. Formally of the short-lived 90s R&B quartet 4Kast, Bronx-raised Sharissa Dawes was sadly slept on despite Motown pulling out all the stops to break into the urban market with new signings such as Her Sanity, DJ Rogers Jr and Lathun. Her debut LP “No Half Steppin’” was a strong first effort with the label presenting her in a similar style to Blige but alas it was to be her last in the U.S. and by 2005 she was yet another forgotten Japanese export. Originally discovered by Jimmy Henchman in 2002, Dawes was on point with her gritty, truthful tales of love, heartbreak and women’s independence but the tide was turning on R&B in the early 2000s with artists such as Destiny’s Child and even Britney Spears churning out paint-by-numbers R&B-pop records. Nobody wanted the real genuine article anymore.

No Half Steppin    3:55   
No Half Steppin    3:09   
Sharissa 4 Life    1:53   
Henchmen G's    3:51   
My Projects    3:31   
Sureshot    2:24   
I Love Thugs    3:21   
Gangsta Gangsta    2:17   
We Gonna Make It    2:24   
Gone 2 Long    4:01   
Music    2:11   
Dwyck    2:08   
Untitled    0:30   

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Kenny Young (aka K. Young): Sampler (Promo) (Rondor Music International, 2oox)

 
Unreleased productions from baby-voiced crooner Kenneth Pratt (aka K. Young), a former original member of the R&B group 3rd Storee (as Lil’ Man) when they were signed to Yab Yum/Elektra Records in the late 90s. Following in the footsteps of many acts signed to this hapless label, their debut album was not released and when they signed to Def Soul records in the early 2000s, J’Son replaced Pratt as the lead vocalist. Pratt released an album “Learn How To Love” in 2005 via an independent label and has since turned his attention to writing. It is no surprise that his older sister is Brandy’s former writing partner Kenisha Pratt.
 
Gypsy    4:16   
I'll Be Waiting    3:39    
Lay You Down   3:54    (later appeared on his 2014 EP of the same name)
Backseat    3:30   

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Cleopatra: Steppin’ Out (JP Promo CD) (Warner Music Japan, 2000)

Further unreleased music from UK pop/R&B group Cleopatra and found on this Japanese promo pressing only. First beginning in 1998 as a pop group in the same vein as The Spice Girls, the trio - whose bouncy hits included "Cleopatra's Theme" and a cover of The Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" - took on a more urban approach for their second release which featured production from big name U.S. producers such as Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and Dallas Austin. Ultimately due to poor promotion, the whole project ended up being shelved in the UK but did see a release in the U.S., Japan and some parts of Europe where again it pretty much went unnoticed. The first unreleased cut “I Just Want To Be” appeared on a previous sampler I posted back in 2017 while “Feels So Good” I have never seen anywhere else before now. According to the liner notes, “I Just Want To Be” was produced by Daryl Simmons while the other rarer track by Cutfather & Joe. It’s a little on the poppy side; fans of their previous album would probably love it but I can see why it was left off this more mature effort with its American R&B appeal. 
 
Press Here To Start 3:48 
Sweat Me 4:53 V
oo-Doo 4:15 
I Just Want To Be 4:47 
U Got It 3:24 
Bingo My Love 3:44 
Yes 4:43 
Only Me 5:06 
You Can't Be In My Life 3:29 
Come & Get Me 3:35 
Feels So Good 4:12
 

Kleshay: 4-Track Sampler (Promo) (Jerv Records/Epic, 1998)

 
Unreleased music from short-lived UK R&B trio Kleshay, who originally started out with members of the Honeyz as one supergroup before splintering off into two separate acts in the late 90s. I believe the members were cousins and relations to The Honeyz' Celena Cherry although I don't know for absolute certain. While the Honeyz notched up several UK top 5 hits, a Gold album and went on to sign with U.S. label Def Jam, Kleshay never made it past two singles “Reasons” (1998) and “Rush” (1999). They did record an album Triodasyde, which was not released. They were a solid R&B group who could’ve given their sister group the Honeyz a definite run for their money but sadly the 90s was not the best time to be an up-and-coming girl group in Britain. Said of the track “Desire” on their official Facebook page “DESIRE is very different to the singles it's a very upbeat Spanish/Latin type pop track it will get you moving straight away, it was written by the girls with Preston Heyman and Blair Mackichan and produced by Preston in 1998!” “Never Did Say I Love You”, a beautiful acoustic ballad, also showcases their diversity as a group. They wanted to be different to all the imported, cookie-cutter R&B groups at the time and their album demonstrated it very well. Such a shame that it went unreleased but it appears that the label Jerv Records did not last long. 
 
Reasons (Original Version Edit) 3:50 
Rush (Extended Version) 4:07 
Never Did Say (I Love You) 4:59 
Desire 4:31 
 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Elsie Muniz: Urban Latina (Sampler) (Promo) (University Music Entertainment, 1998)

As the Latin explosion built up momentum in the late 90s, it is unfortunate that it seemed to be more geared towards pop music with artists such as Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez topping the charts. Sadly, it seems that many of these artists got by on their looks and a lot of really talented “urban” acts such as Crystal Sierra and Deemi were overlooked. Considering how intertwined hip hop was with Hispanic culture in the US, it is incongruous to me why this did not work out outside of Lopez shaking her giant booty on “Jenny from The Block.” Also of Puerto Rican extraction, Philly’s Elsie Muniz was another Latina R&B singer that was active in the late 90s that not many people knew about back then. She was signed to University Records Entertainment, the same label that brought us Dru Hill and Mya, and was mostly known for her only single “Your Eyes” which was released in 1999. Unfortunately it seemed the label was not entirely comfortable with her artistry, and feeling that they needed to even explain a

Philip Ray: Sampler (EP) (Rhythm City Records, 2005)

From California, here is a further male neo soul artist to bring a whole new flavor to your ear. His LP “Fall of The Bling Dynasty” was passionate blend of contemporary R&B, neo and acoustic soul with original tracks and covers from Donny Hathaway (“Giving Up (Is So Hard to Do)” Cindy Lauper (“True Colors”) and even Radio Head (“Creep”). Unfortunately, I can’t find much information about him but as from the back of his EP, he identified as a “self-taught singer/songwriter” with a “classic” edge.

Intro    1:00
I Used To    4:19
Creep    3:11
Love You Madly    1:44
Restless For Love    1:52
Young. Gifted. Black.    1:09
Giving Up    6:44
True Colors    3:25
Vodka Tonic    3:36

Friday, November 6, 2020

A local find: Steven Daniel

Originally from Hartford, CT, Daniel (real name Steven Daniel) was a singer-songwriter based out of California and had previously been known for his role as Lionel “El-Train” Johnson on the NBC show “City Guys” between 1997-2001. His only single “I Luv U” was one of many lesser rare CDs that I found during my crate digging days in and around my area and was the lead single from the above album “Hiphopcrisy” which was released in 2001. A mixture of gospel, neo soul and hip hop sounds, the project was stylized as a “gospel influenced hip hop album” though Daniel did not wish to be classified as a “gospel artist” and by the time his second album “Life, Love & Liberation” rolled around in 2005, he was then channeling Maxwell and D’Angelo to great effect. Both albums were available to purchase digitally from the artist's website where he identified himself as a conscious soul artist with an "outright colorfully creative musical soul." Though not as rare as some of the other things I found, his music will definitely uplift your soul in these uncertain, dark times. 
 
Hiphopcrisy (Five By Seven Entertainment, 2001)
Raw Intro    1:01
Show Me    3:28
MayDay    4:27
Everthing I Need    1:19
I Luv U    5:15
Temporary    5:15
Skitz    1:14
Thug    1:32
Hiphopcrisy    3:13
2 Late    5:31
MayDay (Remix)    3:44

Life, Love & Liberation (Five By Seven Entertainment, 2005)
A Greeting From Daniel    0:55
Don't Label Me    5:16
Real Music    4:25
U Can't Stop Me    5:43
Without U    4:08
Your Love    4:45
I Luv U 2    2:18
K. I. S. S. Me    3:43
Hurts Sometimes    4:57
P.O.M.M.    1:05
Just An Interlude    1:10
Dance If U Wanna    4:27
Life    2:34
America    4:52
Change    1:41
Freedom    4:33
Alright    2:55
No More    9:12

Monday, November 2, 2020

Various Artists: BMI Urban Sampler (Promo) (BMI, 2008)

I am not a huge fan of modern R&B music but do have a slight soft spot for the later 2000s era when producers like The-Dream were dominating the charts with their hi-NRGI sounds. From BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.), here is an assortment of urban acts from their repertoire in 2008 and hosted by popular man of the moment back then T-Pain. Most are unsigned but a few names people might recognize, namely Lonny Breaux (aka Frank Ocean), K. Young (3rd Storee) and Lil Eddie. None were ever released officially outside of mixtape features and internet leaks in the late 2000s era. Being an avid collector of these leaks during this time, I knew Breaux from his song with Brandy “Surprise Ending.” Nigerian-born Kal Nwaneri (appearing here with “Sexual Side”) is also somebody I had heard back then when he featured with Mya on an unreleased track “Wanna Love Me Now.” He sounds very much like Akon here whose own brand of hip hop-influenced electronica was also very popular during this time. Though it did lack the soul and finesse of the earlier years – including even the mid-2000s – there was still some solid music being made in the late 2000s that I really enjoyed listening to. 

Nappy Boy Radio (NBR) Intro    1:05
Good Times    4:24
Caught Up Again    2:51
NBR Interlude 1    0:33
Room Service    3:24
Kiss Away    3:34
NBR Interlude 2    0:31
Say Hello    2:59
Southern Man    3:52
NBR Interlude 3    0:25
Sexual Side    3:42
Cry On    3:23
NBR Interlude 4    0:36
After The Day    3:49
Hurt Me Again    3:22
NBR Interlude 5    0:24
Ooh    3:17
Beyond Your Past    3:42
NBR Interlude 6    0:58
Country Love    4:07
NBR Interlude 7    0:23
Weerdo    4:13
Flashbacks    4:04
NBR Interlude 8    0:34
Computer Love    3:16
Home    3:36
NBR Interlude 9    1:08
Keep It Chilly    3:20
NBR Interlude 10    1:11

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Prince Charles: Sampler (Promo) (Rondor Music International, 200x)

Further unreleased music from Prince Charles (Charles Hinshaw Jr.), a Compton-born singer-songwriter who has since penned top 20 hits for the likes of Usher and Rhianna, and made an appearance on Mary’s song “Smile” from her 2017 album “Strength of A Woman”.  It seems he initially started out as a solo artist with all four of these songs being written for him by Dwight Watson (Marquez Houston "Case Of You" et al.) All slow jams (which have a very mid-to-late 2000s sound), Hinshaw is an amazing crooner with a delicate, smooth touch. Aside from "Don't Need A Dime" which was later recorded by Mic Little, I am uncertain if any of the other tracks were used for anybody else but they all feature production from The Stereotypes who won a Grammy Award in 2017 for their work with Bruno Mars.

Swisher Sweet    3:32
Fitted Fat    3:34
Situations Hatin    4:15
Don't Need A Dime    3:03

Monday, October 26, 2020

JHart: Sampler (Promo) (Rondor Music International, 201x)

A little bit beyond my preferred era but worth a mention because these appear to be unreleased StarGate productions. The writer JHart (James John Abrahart Jr.) has written for many popular artists since 2009 not limited to Mya, TLC, Jason-Derulo, Trey Songz and more. I don’t know if he started out as a solo artist but at least a few of these tracks wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Mary J. Blige or Beyoncé album back in the late 2000s. A further rap CD that came in this lot of discs can be found on my channel along with a Nicki Minaj-esque production from the early 2010s. All were produced for Universal Music Group and affiliated subsidies and not used by anybody as far as I can tell.

The Heart You Broke    3:29
Without The Reigns    4:13
Losing You    4:00
Ready Set Go    3:33

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Unknown: Jimmi J. Sampler (Promo) (Rondor Music International, 200x)

Further unused productions from Universal Music Group and from an unknown female session vocalist. Whether the name “Jimmi J.” refers to the artist or a songwriter I don’t know but the only thing that really comes close is Jimmy Jam of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. Both are still accredited as writers with Universal Music Publishing Group but I don’t for exact certain that this is their work. The style of music doesn’t really fit them at all but “Start Over” is 100% Brandy Norwood’s vocal style. Perhaps unused submissions from any number of her albums circa early to mid 2000s.

All titles are approximate

Crazy    3:44
I've Had Enough    3:59
Playa    3:42
Start Over    4:33
You    4:00

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Various/Unknown: 1Shot Sampler (Promo) (Rondor Music International, 200x)

Various productions intended for Universal Music Group and dated at around 2005/2006 as per one track “U Told Me” which was later given to Def Jam recording artist Shareefa (spelt incorrectly on the disc as Sharifa.) The management company 1Shot Management was headed by Chuck Greene and based out of Baltimore, MD. They were the muscle behind producers J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League in the mid-2000s, a trio of producers mostly known for winning a Grammy Award in 2006 for their work on Mary’s “The Breakthrough” album. As well as the track for Shareefa, they also produced a further track "Coming Up Hustla" which later used the same instrumentation to Shawnna's "Can't Break Me" also from 2006. Whether or not they produced any others I can’t say but quite a few such as “Ghetto” and

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Natasha: Sampler (Promo) (Rondor Music International, 200x)

Unreleased music from Natasha Ramos who was part of two failed girl groups Anjel (with former Destiny’s Child members LeToya Luckett and LaTravia Roberson in 2003) and Latina R&B group Affair (with Tiffany Villarreal and Vanessa Marquez in 2005.) Sadly,both fell apart before any actual releases came to fruition but the latter was put together by Pharrell Williams with whom she has been minorly associated with ever since. Unfortunately, it seems she had similar luck to fellow ex-Affair member Tiffany Villarreal in that she seemed to go from one project that never got off the ground to another, including one for the former head of Arista Records at the time LA Reid. This has pretty much left her to be known only as “J-Lo’s Backing Singer” by some despite her much superior talent. I don’t know where the above work originated from but I am guessing either from her brief stint at Arista or her later shelved project with Star Trak Entertainment “Show & Tell.”  One of the tracks "Rain Keeps Falling" was later adapted into the intro for Amerie's 2007 album "Because I Love It" and was produced by Chris & Drop. In 2011, she finally released her first project “Dream Seller” on which she chronicles the many missed opportunities she has had and rightly so. Why LA Reid and especially Pharrell Williams couldn’t do anything more with her I do not know. 

 (Approximate titles given)

Rain Keeps Falling    3:36
Whatchu Got    3:27

 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Charli: Big Mistake (CDM) (Charles Gorodn Music Group, 2001)

This group was another interesting find from Stuart back in 2017. I was led to believe it featured former EastEnders actress Rita Simons and Sha Mae Amor (Paradiso Girls) as its members but it seems they were not included in the this earlier lineup. Still very much a multi-cultural group (including members from China and South America), the inlay states that the group was a “unique flavor of dynamic rapping and soulful harmonies influenced by heavy garage vibes” and “Latino flavors” that captured the “harder street attitude” of London’s South East. They later had a lineup change (gaining Simons and Mae Amor) and signed to UK Urban Records where they released one single “Feel Me” in 2003 which barely made an impact on the charts. It seems the label were once again more geared towards Garage music and not even the good stuff but a very early incarnation of what later became known as dubstep. Sadly this is where Charli seemed to have ended up as featured as part of the lineup to a mix compilation given away for free with Deuce Magazine in 2003. It’s a shame as they did have potential but they would’ve probably been better off signed to an actual pop label.

Big Mistake (Garage Pop Mix) 4:26
Big Mistake (Garage Dub Remix) 4:13
Big Mistake (Wise Child RnB Remix) 4:44
Big Mistake (Paper Worx RnB Mix) 4:06

 

Joy Morrison: Run Away (CDM) (Trinity Records, 2001)

Obscure neo soul from out the UK with Joy Morrison and seemingly the only single from a multi-genre album “So Damn Tuff” showcasing the best that UK talent had to offer back then. Not much is known about her but there’s a small possibility that she was previously signed to Bishop Brad and Linslee Campbell’s Southside Collective Records at around the same time as Mykyla (see here.) Taken from the archive: "22 years old, sultry good looks, with a satin smooth timbre, that simply massages the inner ear and speaks to the soul. This is Joy Morrison. Joy Morrison is the type of singer that popstars wish they could imitate. Her voice is strong but gentle, passionate and warm. Her talent unmistakable and complemented by the stories she tells within her songs."

Run Away (Original Mix)    3:49    
Run Away (Norf Wes' Mix)    3:49    
Run Away (Heaven's Gate Mix)    3:36    
Run Away (Kol Droppin' Remix)    4:33    
Run Away (Shux Mix)    3:50   

Ciao: Shake It (Promo CDS) (Whoppit Records, 200x)

More Asian R&B out of the UK with Ciao, a three-piece girl group comprised of members of Indian extraction. Not much is known about them but the track was produced by London-based producer Andy Whitmore and infuses elements of pop, R&B and contemporary bhangra music to good effect.  Many thanks to Lewsic for the contribution. 
 
 Shake It  3:42

Ryan Joy: Sampler (Promo) (Platinum Stars Entertainment, 2003)

Another surprising find from the home of cheesy pop Florida with Ryan Joy, a Britney Clone that actually wasn’t and whom actually intended to put out quality R&B/pop music in the early 2000s. Hyped as the “new Madonna” by music industry executives (who were obviously looking at the color of her skin more than her sound), she started off at 14 as a dancer and host for a local MTV-like channel Club TV before aspiring to be a singer. Her debut single “Don’t U Hate It” received a release through her website in 2001 but despite appearances on Radio Disney and WFLZ-FM (a prominent radio station in Tampa, FL), her website stopped being updated in 2005. Musically she was not bad but at times it seemed she may have been taking vocal lessons from a few teachers obsessed with Britney’s mannerisms crossed with Adrienne Bailon from 3LW. As for “Don’t U Hate It”, it might sound familiar to a few people as it was later recorded by another fledgling singer Mesha for her debut LP “Broken Glass” in 2003 (posted here.) Joy is still active but has since turned her back on her urban beats to do rock music. 
 
Crazed 3:12 
Don't U Hate It (Snippet) 1:50 
I Don't Wanna (Snippet) 1:33 
S.O.S. (Snippet) 2:13 
 
 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Elaine Monk: Something For Nothing (EP) (Black Sands Records, 1993)


More unknown 90s R&B that up until now had been lost in the garage house category on Discogs.It spawned one single “Something for Something” in 1993 which mainly seemed to be marketed as a garage house release but this EP is 100% early 90s New Jack Swing/contemporary R&B. It is not a promo although it has no actual artwork. I know nothing about the artist but the label appeared to be based out of New York City.  

Something For Nothing    4:15
B-U-S-T-E-D (Featuring "Love")    3:56
Silent Love    4:48
Why You Want My Love?    3:40
Something For Nothing (Edited Version)    3:45

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Meisha: S/T (Gamma Records, 1995)

The very first album release from Jameisha Trice, a Chicago-based singer-songwriter and recorded under her former alias Meisha. It spawned one single, the G-Funk-inspired “Quit Doggin’ Me Out” which had some degree of underground success (despite being released the same time as Brandy and Monica’s break out hits) and was even picked up for overseas distribution via Universal. The record label Gamma Records was formally known as Gammaudion Records and are mostly known for the male sextuplet M.A.R.E.E. (aka Music And Rhythm Equals Excellence.) Following this absolute stellar first effort, Trice released a follow-up “My Life” in 2000 (posted here) and in 2006 was working on new music under her full name Jameisha Trice (posted here.) She is still very much active in music to this day and her silky, smooth timbre can be heard in many national TV and Radio spots including the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Many thanks again to Stuaaart for acquiring an original copy. I don’t post mp3s from unknown sources on my blog or on my channel. 
 
Quit Doggin' Me Out 3:15 
Bomb Explosion 0:08 
I Wanna Be Next To You 3:17 
Inseperable 6:11 
Play U Like A Sucker 3:22 
Show Me 4:13 
Just Chillin' 3:33 
Saving My Love 4:01 
Mr. DJ 2:43 
Baby Don't Go 3:28 
One Last Kiss 4:09 
Quit Doggin' Me Out [Remix] 4:06 
 

Urbanesque: S/T (Promo) (Titanium Records, 2003)

Consisting of members from Canada, Texas, Chicago and New Jersey, Urbanesque came together with a common goal “to impact and change the course of the entertainment industry.” They met in Orlando – the home of cheesy pop – and were soon discovered by Veit Renn who was formally a producer for such horrors as *NSync, Backstreet Boys and Aaron Carter. Admittedly, this does not sound great but Renn’s efforts as “The Viking” were actually pretty darn good. Lacing the tracks with a splash of funk, a cup of hip hop and a pinch of R&B to support the group’s “raw flava’, they sounded more like En Vogue than *NSync. Describing them as ‘one of the best girl groups to come around in a while’, they

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Ris-K: Ris-K Business (Perfect Entertainment, 1998)

Another great Asian trio out of B.C., Canada and boasting Canadian singer and actress Cory Lee as one of its members. According to info online, the trio were later approached by Sony Hong Kong but Lee apparently turned down the offer as she was eager to explore her Chinese roots instead. Possibly a demo they sent off to labels, not much else is known about this group or its other members but they were produced by N.C. Thanh and Earnest T.D. who had previously worked with Craig Smart, Cruize Control and others. From the 90s urban flava of “Juicy Stylz” (an incarnation of Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit”) to the late 90s contemporary R&B sounds of “Keep It Real” and “Can You Satisfy?” to the funky unadulterated pop of “Into The Groove” (a cover of Madonna’s song of the same name), their music was a blend of infectious urban-pop and funky 90s melodies with great production. Along with Toronto’s Ora (Philippines), they were definitely destined for great things. 

Going All Out 3:38
Ris-K Business 3:47
Keep It Real 3:46
Into The Groove 3:54
A Hundred Times 4:22
Can You Satisfy 3:42
Ooh, I Don't Feel Like You 3:39
You Are My Dream 3:44
Just The Thought 3:41
Juicy Stylz 5:14
Ris-K Business Remix 3:46




Monday, August 31, 2020

Juliana: 100% (Promo VLS) (R&B Productions, 1996)

More 90s greatness from the midlands (UK) with Juliana, who at one point was tipped to become the UK’s latest Queen of Swing. I don’t know if she ever did anything else but her manager was formally involved in PR work for US legends Jean Carne and Roy Ayers before deciding he wanted to go into management. It seems this girl, formally of a group called Trilite in the 80s, was one of his first projects and straddles the 90s UK street soul and contemporary R&B genres quite well. Many thanks again to “L” for his original rips! 

100% 5:05
100% (Instrumental) 5:02

Jozay: Secrets (Ooh Aah) (VLS) (Fancy Footwerk Records, 1998)

A further smooth track from the late 90s that has been seen before from a few of the usual “collectors” and a few fans of garage house for its remixes. I know nothing about the artist – this appears to be the only thing she ever did – but the R&B and Bass remixes on this particular 12” have not been seen before. Many thanks again to “L” for his original rips!

Secrets (Main Mix) 4:02
Secrets (Slow Down Mix) 4:14
Secrets (Miami Mix Feat. Sugarman) 3:00

Aysha: Let Me Break It Down (White Label VLS) (1999)

Only R&B release from former Miss England Talented Teens contestant Aysha Loren who despite really putting it down on the above smooth track, appeared to be mostly a reggae artist. She may have been primed for big things at one point; this single was produced by Barry Bee formally known for his early work with Leona Lewis but despite talk of an album due for release on Feb 28th 1999, her catalog mainly consists of a few obscure reggae 7”s (split with other artists on the Jet Star label) and some backing vocals for Chukki Starr. She did however provide vocals for an early song by Phoebe 1 “Keepin’ Up The Vibes” from 1997. Many thanks again to “L” for his original rips!

Let Me Break It Down 3:57
Let Me Break It Down 4:29

Sunday, August 30, 2020

The Attorney Project: The 8th Day (Ladies Anthem) (White Label VLS, 200x)

A further rare UK find from the Attorney Project and a reply of sorts to Craig David’s 2000 song “7 Days” when that sort of thing was popular in the early 2000s.  I don’t know anything about the artist but I believe they were a female duo or group. Possibly unreleased although I don't know for exact certain.

The 8th Day (Ladies Anthem) (Mix 1)     4:21
The 8th Day (Ladies Anthem) (Mix 2)     4:22

Second Nature, Deshai: Kingswing EP (Promo VLS) (Ticking Time, 1999)

Further unknown R&B groups and artists on promo vinyl with a very contemporary sound. Again no information about any of them anywhere but the label Ticking Time was a hip hop and jungle label out of London. 
 
Promises 3:50 (Second Nature)
Check My Flo 4:19 (De'Ano)
Moove It 2 Da Left 3:30 (Deshai)

Era: Time 4 Action (White Label VLS) (200x)

Unknown male group on white label from the early 2000s era and featuring 2 tracks upbeat contemporary R&B and one 2-step garage remix. I know nothing about them but like Ten 4 before them, they worked quite well as both an R&B and garage act.

Time 4 Action (R&B) 4:02
Time 4 Action (Garage) 3:14
Incredible 4:08

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Maria Marcial: Urbanize Vol. 2 (EP) (2005)

More great midlands (UK) R&B with Maria Marcial, a female R&B/soul singer based out of Manchester. Mainly being known for Oasis and Take That, I haven’t come across much quality R&B from here in my many years of collecting other than Sons Of Rhythm. Sadly Maria’s track is the sole R&B song on an EP hailing from Manchester’s “fruitful” urban scene in 2005. According to the info sheet, she was a Top 20 gospel finalist in Trevor Nelson’s Talent Search. A further standout track is producer/MC duo Rayze & Raye’s “Away” featuring vocals from another singer/songwriter Sapphire.

I Don't Love U Like That (Maria Marcial)  3:53
Away (Rayze 'n' Ryze Feat. Sapphire)  4:26
What It All About (2FO)  4:46
Long Weekend (Rayze 'n' Ryze)  5:10

Marley-Dee: Album Sampler (EP) (Black Story Records, 2004)

More contemporary R&B on Bristol’s Black Story label, which was set up and run by prominent mix DJ Mark Watson (aka Mixmaster M.) Her first single, the catchy “Hot Inside” was released in 1999 but she still appeared to be active with the label all the way up until 2005 when sadly Watson was trying to turn her into the British version of Ciara. The above sampler, which was released a year prior to this, showcased her much better as a contemporary R&B/pop singer who had some really catchy tracks. Regardless, Watson had a great ear for production and for whatever sound was popular at the time. 

Nasty (Original Mix)  3:50
When (Original Mix)  4:17
Hot Inside (Original Mix)  3:58
Nasty (Instrumental) 3:50
When (Instrumental)  4:17
Hot Inside (Instrumental)  3:58

Jocasta: No More (VLS) (Black Story Records, 2005)

A further early 2000s R&B act on Bristol’s Black Story label who were mainly known in collector’s circuits for N.Q., Hughie Crawford and the female trio She-Du-Ni. Again, I don’t know anything about this particular artist but this is one of two releases that she had with the label. Sadly, as with Marley-Dee, it seems that she also went the way of Ciara with its follow-up “Wyne”. This appears to be the last thing that Watson’s label did back then but they did make a comeback in 2012 with Watson still having a great ear for current sounds. 

No More (Main Mix)  3:59
No More (Instrumental)  3:59
No More (Accapella)  3:48

Rose: Why You Wanna (VLS) (Black Story Records, 2000)

More great early 2000s flava out of Bristol with Black Story Records, a label fronted by DJ Mark Watson (billed as Mixmaster M.) and whom had many great artists on their roster back in the mid 90s and early 2000s not limited to collectors favorites N.Q., Hughie Crawford and more. I don’t know much about this artist but the label’s sound attempted to evolve with the times, coming from the funky street soul sound of N.Q. and Crawford and to a more early 2000s contemporary R&B sound a la Destiny’s Child, TLC and others. 

Why You Wanna  3:53
Why You Wanna (Instrumental)  3:53
Why You Wanna (Accapella)  3:47

Monday, August 24, 2020

Ten 4: Britain's first ever oriental R&B group

Signed to the same label as Alexia Khadime, Ten 4 were an Oriental R&B trio who were breifly active in the ealry 2000s. Destined to take the world by “storm” and “break down all racial and cultural barriers that exist”, they were co-signed to a garage label where they released only one promotional single “Flava.” Sadly, it wa`s aimed more at the garage scene with the original R&B track basically appearing on the b-side billed as a remix. Similar in style to Alexia’s “Ring”, I can’t help but feel it works better as an upbeat song though. A further song “No Way” showcases them in a much more contemporary R&B light. Preview both below and thanks again to “L” for the contribution. 

Flava (Promo VLS) (Red Rose Recordings, 2001)
Flava (Code Blue Vocal Mix)  4:58
Flava (Mr Blue Jazzy 2-Step Mix)  4:27
Flava (Code Blue Dub)  5:56
Flava (R&B Mix)  4:26

No Way (White Label VLS) (Nu Hope Entertainment, 200x)
No Way  3:47
No Way  3:48
No Way  4:52
No Way  4:39

Friday, August 21, 2020

Lisa Roxanne: Get The Hookup (CDS) (Big Chief, 2004)

Lisa Roxanne was only 14 when she signed a 2-year 4-album deal reportedly worth more than 1 million pounds. It apparently took a long time to convince her mother, a former singer with London soul group Loose Ends, that she had the stamina necessary to succeed but she eventually landed a deal with New York-based Palm Pictures LLC., a label set up by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell. The deal made headlines in 2001 with some people incorrectly branding her a “black Billie Piper wannabe” but she was streets ahead of her, Jamelia and anybody else in the UK at the time. Her vocals were on point and her songs were incredibly

Monday, August 17, 2020

Mikayla Hart: Demo (199x)

Further songwriter or singer/songwriter demos won by Stuart on eBay a few months back. I have no idea who this artist is but the music is primarily a mixture of pop and soft rock. Sadly not the best - not all of them are absolute winners - but the first track "So High" is a pretty good slice of early 90s pop soul.

So High  4:02
Light Year  3:47
Tell Me Now 5:14
Think About Love  3:55
All She Wants  3:06
Think Again  3:48
You're My Baby  4:42


David L. Stewart: Demo (1992)

Stewart is an R&B songwriter and producer from Los Angeles who has worked with Jesse Campbell, Michel'Le and others since the late 80s. His most notable production is former Death Row vocalist Michel'Le's "Can I Get A Witness" but from 2007-2014 he worked with K. Michelle. Sadly he is not a very prolific songwriter but it was not for want of trying, as demonstrated on the above cassette which Stuart won on eBay a few months back. All are are dated from 1992 and feature male and female vocalists over various arrangements of early 90s greatness. The first track "What About You" is a killer slow jam with a similar smooth vibe to "Can I Get A Witness" while the uptempo tracks "Show Me", "Good & Plenty" and "Stop, Look & Listen" are early 90s New Jack Swing at its best. No ideas as to who the vocalists are but they are not Campbell, Michel'Le or anybody else he worked with back then.

Thank you once again to Stuart for scoring this and keeping it in the U.S. where it belongs!

What About You  3:37
Show Me (Extended Mix)  5:19
Falling For You  4:49
Good & Plenty  4:15
To Love Somebody  5:42
Stop, Look & Listen  4:36
I Believe In You  5:24

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Groove United Productions Presents: Urban Grooves (Promo) (Groove United Productions, 200x)

Unreleased productions from Groove United Productions, a Canadian label headed by Canadian Dave Sereny and mostly known for R&B singer Wade O. Brown. Brown had been active since the late 90s when he released the single “No Other Woman” via Parlophone’s Rhythm Series imprint. Between 2002-2005, he released 3 albums, the most widely known being 2002’s “Complete”. He released an eponymous follow-up in 2003 which was later re-tooled as “All Night, All Love” in 2005. It featured contributions from a host of A-list producers and song writers not limited to Daryl Simmons, Herb Middleton and Kipper Jones. Here are 3 productions that never made it on to any of his albums as well as tracks from male R&B/neo-soul duo Opinion, which was a side project of Canadian MC and producer Slakah The Beatchild and featured singer Jason Simmons on vocals. Their only single “You’ll Be Fine” was released in 2003. There are also a host of other artists that were a part of this label as well, including 2 further R&B/soul singers Jaque and Peter Miller and Canadian MCs G. Stokes and Phatt Al. I believe the tracks were mostly all written by Wil Van Zyl, who served as the then-president of the label. Van Zyl and Wade formed Williwade Music in the early 90s which began as a writing house and eventually evolved to also become a facility for artist development and management. This disc may have been sent out to prospect labels to get a distribution deal although I don’t know for exact certain. The pinnacle of the disc is most definitely Wade though, who delivers the best in authentic rhythm and blues with a modern twist. At least one of his tracks (“Real Love”) was produced by Daryl Simmons. 

Real Love 4:53 (Wade O. Brown)
Just Say When 4:16 (Wade O. Brown)
Celebrate 4:16 (Wade O. Brown)
Rock My Heart 4:20 (Wade O. Brown)
Rasheeda 3:09 (Opinion)
You'll Be Fine 3:49 (Opinion)
Play Along 3:44 (Opinion)
Any Reason 4:53 (Jaque)
Rock Da Block 4:14 (G-Stokes)
Cocoberry (Remix) 5:32 (G-Stokes)
Love Is So Strange 4:43 (G-Stokes)
Leavin' 3:19 (Peter Miller)
Fresh Air 4:00 (Phatt Al)
Phattman 3:25 (Phatt Al)
Everybody (Wanna Be An MC) 4:27 (Phatt Al)

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Lee-Prada Entertainment Neo Soul(ed) Up, Jazz(ersized) R&B Sampler (Promo) (P.U.R.E. Underground, 2003)

Unreleased productions from Chicago-based producer and musician Lee-Prada who created his label (originally Purely Underground Radio Entertainment) to bring credibility from the street “back to the lab in 2003. I don’t know much about him but he was a former military guy with a mission: to help young artists everywhere display their natural talents and develop that talent from the heart and not from the “sole” of some labels’ feet (as quoted from an archived version of his label’s webpage). He started out focusing on hip hop but later branched out to other styles as demonstrated on the above disc. I don’t know much about these artists but Darius Wyatt released an EP “Unconditional Love” in 2005 while Danny Divine is an unsigned neo soul artist. Other stand out tracks by other artists include the R&B-styled steppers jam "Step With The 1 You With" and the gorgeous live soul/blues track “Where Will U Be.”

Intro 0:29 (Lee-Prada)
Bounce, Bounce 3:44 (Darius Wyatt)
Should I Stay 3:43 (Darius Wyatt)
2nd Man 5:36 (Darius Wyatt)
I Don't Know 4:57 (Darius Wyatt)
Play It 4 U 4:09 (Truism)
Angel 5:04 (Truism)
Little Somethin 3:37 (Truism)
Show Me 4:08 (Danny Divine)
Complete Azz 4:27 (Danny Divine)
Crashin' Down 4:19 (Danny Divine)
Lovely Day 3:34 (Darius Wyatt)
Hug 3:05 (Yaw Agyemon)
Where Will U Be (Live) 4:15 (Yaw Agyemon)
Step With The 1 You With 4:08 (Maurice G)
Steppin' 4 The Soul 4:09 (Truism)

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Jamm-A-Lott Records – R&B & Hip Hop Compilation (Jamm-A-Lott Records, 1996)

Further underground music out of Indianapolis with Jamm-A-Lott Records, a label initially started in the mid-90s by local entrepreneur Daron Washington who described his music as old school mixed in with today’s modern sound.” Sadly, it is mostly very underground sounding; the vocals on track 4 are also pretty bad but this is a rare piece of Indiana rap history. “Can U Rap ‘96” apparently became an underground hit with this compilation originally scheduled to drop in July, 1996. I don’t know if it ever did but in 2006, a decade later, Washington released The Jammalott Power Compilation to CDBaby.

Do Your Thing 3:29 (Pontiak & Comp)
Can U Rap 96 4:47 (Pontiak)
Wanna Get 2 Know U 3:22 (Pontiak & Comp)
Laydown 4:01 (Pontiak & Comp)
Gunz Don't Kill 4:05 (Pontiak)
Like What U C 3:46 (Mozelle)
Searchin 5:24 (Code Blue)
On The Rise 4:37 (Da-Difrinz)
Symptoms Of A Cyko 4:42 (Da-Difrinz)

Signal Music Productions (SMP Records, 1998)

Underground rap and R&B out of Newark, New Jersey that I know very little about but seemingly contains early work from local rap artist Rasheed Campbell who is still active today. Unfortunately, the R&B tracks are few and far between (3 in total out of 11 tracks) but Dominique is definitely a stand out artist. 

Levitate 3:53 (SySez)
EastNWest 4:18 (SySez)
Let Me Find You 3:27 (Dominique)
Why Did You Lie 3:16 (Dominique)
Loving Goes 4:25 (Precious)
1998 Two Years Left 2:58 (Life)
Love 5:06 (Life)
1989's Da Number 3:58 (Rasheed)
Analyze 3:22 (Rasheed)
Llename (Spanish) 4:32 (Joselito)
Unknown 4:10 (Unknown)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

New Flava Vol. 1 & 2: (Excess Records, 1996-1998)

Formally being confined only to black churches, British gospel music took on a brand new approach with the release of the above albums in the mid to late 90s which offered contemporary-sounding R&B tracks by an assortment of UK-based singers and gospel artists at the time not limited to Marissa Anglin, Tyrone Henry, Eska Mtungwazi and Melanie Ephson. The projects spawned one single "On And On" by Melenie Ephson in 1998. As described in an article online, Ephson (then unsuccessfully trying to shop demo tapes around) was hoping this project would help her break out but despite being tipped for big things by gospel, soul and underground reviewers, the label Excess Records seemed to go defunct in the year 2000. Ephson's "Call Me" appeared to be the final thing they released in which she had ditched the gospel flavas for a more commercial sound a la Brandy, Monica and others from that era. Regardless along with Bi-Faith's 1998 album, this is some of the best gospel I have ever listened to, and all from British artists.

Read more about this project here and here.

New Flava - The Projet
Are You The Light 3:44 (John Gibbons & Marissa Anglin)
I Just Wanna Thank You 4:44 (Marissa Anglin & Charlene Reid)
Spirit In My Life 4:23 (Charlene Reid)
Turn It Inside Out 4:24 (John Gibbons)
Time For You And Me 4:24 (Tyrone Henry)
My Reason For Life 4:20 (Samantha Edwards)
You're So Real 3:45 (Yolanda Sutherland)
That's What I Believe 3:32 (Janine Cross)
Curious 4:05 (Tyrone Henry)
Lord We Honour Your Name 4:14 (Gillian Nembhard)
Come Inside And Look 3:42 (Raymond Dyer)
Love So Unconditional 2:59 (Stella)
Do You Really Know? 4:06 (Tyrone Henry)
Heaven Is My Home 3:53 (Jasmine Kirby)
Why Not Ask Him 3:55 (Sarah Abraham)

New Flava - Volume Two
Can't You See 4:23 (Eska)
Home 4:06 (Ray Lewis/Melanie Ephson)
You Make Me Very Happy 4:10 (Ray Lewis)
You'll Be Missed 4:09 (Melanie Ephson)
On And On 4:04 (Melanie Ephson)
Heaven 4:29 (Jason Yarde)
Don't Let Go 3:48 (Eska)
You Ought To Know 4:31 (Eska)
Brighter Day 4:30 (Junior Robinson)
Could It Be 3:56 (Junior Robinson)
The Way That You Walk 3:57 (Various Artists)
Thank You For Blessing Me 3:42 (Various Artists)

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Angel Lee: Kindred Spirits (Promo) (WEA Records, 2000)

Angel Lee was another artist to be shelved by WEA Records at the turn of the millennium and again another one who was perhaps being steered more towards the popular Garage scene at the time than R&B hence the overwhelming amount of remixes on her singles by Artful Dodger, MJ Cole and others. Despite this, her album didn't have a single lick of garage or any garage-inspired tracks on it; rather it's a combination of neo soul, trip hop, big beat and more while the more contemporary sounding tracks sound like they wouldn't be out of place on a early 90s Madonna album. Though some of the R&B remixes she did with Blacksmith, Full Crew and Artful Dodger were quite good and her vocals were more than apt enough to carry an R&B tune, the production on this album really was a let down - for me at least - and personally I think she would've had more success as a garage singer.

Give It Up 4:30
Friend 4:55
Sisters 5:17
Thick And Thin 3:49
Running Back 3:33
What's Your Name 3:26
Get Mine 4:12
Close To You 3:58
Move On 4:38
Natural High 3:44

Andrea Grant (ex-Montage): A Four Track CD Sampler (Promo) (WEA Records,1998)

Andrea Grant was the original lead singer for Montage and was featured on their earlier work for Mission Records along with fellow group Serenade back in 1993.  By 1996, Grant left to be replaced with Eve Horne (later of Juice fame) and released two singles via Polydor’s Wildstar imprint that pretty much went unnoticed. Grant took a different route however and in 1995 released a 4-track EP "M.F.E.O. (Made For Each Other)." A very underground bomb, I have no ideas about who the producers were but “M.F.E.O.” in particular was written by Elliot Kennedy who at that time was working for Sony Music Publishing. It was later re-recorded by teen pop monstrosity Kavana in 1997 and became a top 10 hit for him. A year later, Grant had signed to WEA Records where she released one single, an interpretation of the SOS Band’s “Just Be Good To Me.” By 1999, she had pretty much disappeared along with many on the WEA Label which it seems could not keep many of their artists. Her major label work was not as smooth as her underground stuff by any means but is certainly as good if not better than similar work by Brandy, Monica and many others from that era. “Anything You Want” in particular sounds like it could’ve been produced by Rodney Jerkins. It's a shame, as with Montage's album, that it never saw the light of day but when up against The Spice Girls and Billie Piper, they had no chance.

Reputations (Just Be Good To Me) [Featuring Darkman] 3:59
Time To Come Down 5:07
Anything You Want 4:24
Someone That Loved You Before 4:08

Montage: Album Sampler (Jerv Records,1996)

Montage were a short-lived girl group who originally started out signed to Mission Records along with fellow group Serenade in the early 90s. They never released any singles and their early New Jack Swing-inspired work can only be found on one compilation that the label released in 1993. The group stayed together up until 1994 when the original lead singer Andrea Grant left to work on her solo career. I don’t know for absolute certain but she may have been replaced by Eve Horne who later became one third of the Danish R&B group Juice when one of the original members left. With Horne, Montage signed to Polydor-imprint Wildcard Records and released two singles “There Ain’t Nothin’ But The Love” and “In The City”, the latter of which made them one of the first UK acts to be remixed by Jermaine Dupri and his So So Def team. Sadly they were then to disappear without a trace. I don’t know if it was down to problems with their management but Horne was later to leave for more success with Danish R&B group Juice.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Shernette May: Sampler (Promo) (Virgin,1998)

Further unreleased music out of the UK with contemporary rhythm and blues singer-songwriter Shernette May who was the brainchild of production team Absolute. She sadly fell by the wayside as their other project The Spice Girls picked up momentum in the late 90s and following two singles "All The Man I Need" and "Alright With Me", she disappeared completely. Her album "You And I" (which was originally slated for release in October '98) was shelved and all that remains is the above cassette sampler that my new contributor "L" managed to pick up. The following year one of her songs "Without You" made its way onto Tina Turner's album "Twenty Four Seven" and by 2002 May was providing backing vocals for Abz Love (formally of the boyband 5ive.) A rather indignant ending for a very talented singer/songwriter but sadly she had no chance of being heard over The Spice Girls.

All The Man That I Need (Snippet) 1:30
If You Could (Snippet) 1:22
Like A Lover Should (Snippet) 1:40