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, 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

Sha Sha: Sampler (Promo) (199x)

Unreleased music from Birmingham artist Sha Sha (real name Sharon White or now known professionally as Sha White) who was briefly signed to Jive Records in 1990 and had a few minor hits with "Bad Attitude" and "Lies" before going independent in 1991. She is mostly known in collector's circuits for her 1991 album "Blessed With Love" which may or may not have been originally recorded for Zomba (although "Bad Attitude" did not feature on it.) Her style was a mixture of jazzy soul and dance music, not dissimilar to Barry Blue's early 90s trio Asia Blue though "Independence" garnished more than a nod to Lisa Stansfield's "All Around The World." Following this White went on to release a handful of other singles in the 90s including the street soul favorite "Lover Come Back." These days though she has served as a backing vocalist for the lesser talented Joss Stone... hailing from the same place as Jaki Graham, it is a real shame she was not as well known.

Single-sided stickered cassette.

Bad Attitude (7_ A) 3:55
Sunrise Of Creation 3:51
Land Of Peace 4:16
Walk Don_t Run 4:04
Suspicious Mind 4:04

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Shelé: Talkin' Bout Whatever (VLS) (Black Story Records, 2000)

More independent R&B out on the UK at the turn of millennium and again based out of Bristol as per the label Black Story Records which had been active since the mid-90s. Again I know nothing about this artist but the producer Mark Watson (Mixmaster M) is now a prominent mix DJ in Bristol. The label Black Story Records took a hiatus in 2007 but made a comeback in 2012 as Black Story Entertainment Ltd. Their most recent release has been in 2019.

Again many thanks to "L" for his original rips!

Talkin' Bout Whatever (Original Mix) 4:53
Talkin' Bout Whatever (Original Instrumental) 4:51
Talkin' Bout Whatever (Accapella) 4:54

Sha-Du-Ni: Da Da (VLS) (Black Story Records, 1999)

More independent R&B out on the UK at the end of the 90s. Gone are the street soul sounds of yesteryear to be replaced with sounds reminiscent of Rodney Jerkins and Kevin ‘She’kspere’ Briggs for the new millennium. Here is a further female R&B group with a very underground Destiny’s Child-esque sound and a further find from Bristol-based label Black Story Records which had been active since the mid-90s. I know nothing about them but I believe their names were Celestine Gordon, Syreeta Paris and Tracy Mulzac. The producer Mark Watson is now a prominent mix DJ in Bristol

Da Da (Street Mix) 4:04
Da Da (Basement Mix) 4:45
Da Da (Basement Instrumental) 4:34

Kina Moné: Never Knew (White Label VLS) (199x)

Street Soul-meets-hip hop soul with Kina Moné (Mon-ay), an artist I know little about but appears to have worked with Jamelia on her 2003 album “Thank You” as a vocal producer. This track – very much reminiscent of Mary J. Blige - was set to be released in 1998 but I don’t know if it ever was. The female rapper is Sensi, a British female rapper who released a few singles between 1989-1991 and mostly known for her appearance on Ebony's 1996 song "If I Change My Mind" with Phoebe 1.

Never Knew (Full Rap) 4:07
Never Knew (Instrumental) 4:13
Never Knew (No Rap) 4:02

Raise: I Got It (Promo VLS) (Subdub Records, 199x)

From 90s street soul to early 2000s contemporary R&B a la Mary J. Blige and Destiny’s Child, more recent contributions from my great new contributor “L.”  First up is Raise who were possibly a pseudonym for 90s Asian production outfit Simon & Diamond (Simon & Diamond Duggal.) Best known for their work with Apache Indian, they went on to create a genre of their own from the marriage of Asian and Jamaican music heard around London the in early 90s but originally started out with a street soul tune called “No More (Making Love)” by an artist called Aretha Daye in 1992. Sadly, I have no idea who the lead vocalist on the above track is. 

I Got It (Original Radio) 3:58
I Got It (Street Basic) 4:54
I Got It (Mikkel SE Radio) 3:50
I Got It (Submix) 4:04
I Got It (Mikkel SE Club) 4:51
I Got It (F Groove) 4:33

Friday, July 10, 2020

Mykyla (Southside Collective Records, 1999)

Formally a dancer for rave party promoters, South East Londoner Mykyla was one of 3 artists on Linslee Campbell and Bishop Brad’s South Side Collective Records where she released 3 singles at the turn of the millennium. The production on her singles was great, and owing to Campbell and Brad’s history with remixing, packed full of quality mixes that could basically pass as entirely different songs. Her first single 'Stalking/141' was written and produced with Michael Daley (Full Crew) and garnered top ten positions in the Music Week Urban Chart (No.8), the Blues & Soul Chart (No.8), and the DMC Chart (No.10) but by the middle of 2001 Southside Collective’s website went down and never came back. Her album "Reach High" was seemingly not released.

Again many thanks to “L” for his original rips of these CDs that he brought himself. 

For more information and track-listings to her singles, please go here.

Amma (Easy Jam Records, 1996-1999)

Further independently-released music out the UK with North London singer Amma Sarfo, who released her first singles "Can't Have Love"and "Crazy On You" in 1996 when she was only fifteen years old. A follow-up in 1998 "Those Days" achieved "Single Of The Week" in Music Week and was supported by teen and mainstream outlets alike (including Radio 1.) She released her last single “Shoulda Been Mine” in 1998 which saw her taking on the likes of Brandy and Monica, but despite the label making her their top priority, this was the last anybody heard of her. Certain there was a gap in the market for her, Safro described her music as more “experimental” than anything else out at the time with “lots of new ideas production-wise, lyrically and vocally…just really good songs that should cross over to all markets.” Her album “Can’t Have Love” was slated for release in 1999 but I don’t believe it ever saw the light of day despite it bringing forth 5 singles. I believe the label Easy Jam Records Ltd was owned in part by drum & bass musician DJ Phantasy although I don’t know for exact certain. She later appeared with Phantasy on a 2002 track titled ”Your Love” and between the early 2000s to 2010 has been a guest vocalist for various house musicians.

Once again thank you to “L” for his original rips of these CDs that he brought himself.

For additional information and track-listings to her singles, please go here.

Generation X: Give Him Da Praize (CDM) (Selah Records, 2000)

Only single from female contemporary gospel group Generation X, who were a collection of vocalists from the midlands and south of England, and produced by the fantastic Linslee Campbell whose rhythmic, mellow hip hop and R&B remixes appeared on many singles during the 90s. The original version is very downtempo but Campbell’s uptempo rework gives it Mary Mary and Trin-i-tee 5:7 vibes. It was slated to be taken from their album “Evolution of Praise” which was seemingly not released. Many thanks again to "L" for sending these along!

Give Him Da Praize (Linslee Remix) 4:21
Give Him Da Praize (Elnineo Mix) 3:32
Give Him Da Praize (Da Hit Men Garage Mix) 4:52
Give Him Da Praize (70_s Child Remix) 4:50
Give Him Da Praize (Album Version) 3:45

T'Bell: High Note (CDM) (Y2K Productions, 1999)

Further only single from T’Bell who I think was probably pushed more towards the UK Garage scene at the time hence the overwhelming amount of garage/electronic remixes on the singles. Some tracks here though were mixed by popular UK R&B/soul producers D’Influence, best known for their work with Mark Morrison, Shola Ama and others in the 90s. 

High Note (Radio Version) 3:33
High Note (Garage Remix) 5:42
High Note (Club Remix) 3:33
High Note (Dub Mix) 5:51

Yinka: Searching My Soul (CDM) (NCS Entertainment, 1999)

One and only major release from Yinka who is not to be confused with early 90s British MC Yinka “The Voice of Reason.” I don’t know anything about the artist but the track was record of the week in Blues & Soul and had brilliant reviews in all the magazines including Black Echoes.  It later appeared on a compilation by the producer Andy Whitmore called Xplosive (2007.) Whitmore previously worked with Lemar, Eternal, Ashanti, Beverly Knight & Kool and The Gang. As for Yinka, she released a follow-up garage single with Mark Hill’s brother Darren Hill.

Searching My Soul (7_ Radio Edit) 3:57
Searching My Soul (12_ Strip R_B Mix) 6:28
Searching My Soul (Amazon House Mix) 7:01

NQ: Round And Around (CDM) (Black Story Records, 199x)

From 90s street soul to early 2000s contemporary R&B and garage, more contributions from my great new contributor “L” who has been rather spoiling me lately. They are the only singles these artists ever released though the above artist, a group, did release an EP on vinyl where the title track is a totally different, more downtempo mix. Their label Black Story Records especially is one to look at for great commercial-sounding R&B and were still releasing music into well the 2000s (see my upcoming posts.)

Round And Around (Radio Mix) 3:59
Round And Around (Hit Mix) 6:34
Round And Around (Club Mix) 7:31
Round And Around (J. Anderson Mix) 5:48

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Sherissa Stewart: Don't Hesitate (GDR, 2005)

More independent R&B from out the UK with Sherissa (Stewart) and primarily produced by Silvastone, a London-born producer whose music is a creative blend of global rhythms and UK Street Sounds with contemporary flair. I don't know much about her but her song "Cupid" appeared in the 2006 film "Life And Lyrics" alongside Estelle's "Dance With Me." Sadly I don't think it was ever released but seeing as it was on a major label it would've probably been some great promotion for her had it been.

Intro 0:28
Tell Me What You Want 3:33
Cupid ft. Silvastone 3:24
Sunshine 4:27
Gotta Get Away 3:35
I'll Be There 6:15
Don't Hesitate 4:12
Me 3:45
Missing You 5:53
Switch ft. Ayak 4:14
Love Me (Interlude) 0:59
What U Say 3:58
What U Say 4:21
That's Alright 4:51
That's Why I Love You 4:43
I All I Ask 6:16
Me ft. Holly (Remix) 3:44

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Kisha: Love Yourself! (Toc Toc Entertainment, 2001)

The original Mp3.com site as we know it went defunct in 2003 but years after its demise - if you are lucky enough - you can still find any number of original albums being sold online by independent sellers and collectors alike. Sadly many of the R&B ones have long since been closeted by Japanese collectors who charge a ridiculous premium for them but I much prefer to find stuff on my own. The above artist Kisha Rhyne I have not seen before but a couple tracks later made it onto an album by house musician Rodney Bakerr in 2007. Primarily a neo soul and R&B album with a few house tracks, I don't know much about the artist but she appeared to be based out of Chicago. As for Mp3.com, they currently operate as a subsidiary of CNET offering nothing resembling of what they once used to.

A further artist from the old site can be found here

Play The Game 4:31
Shining Star 5:13
Love Yourself 4:09
Again 6:33
More Than One Night 5:27
Don't Cha Wanna Dance 3:55
Wanderlust 4:05
I'm In Love 4:35
Too Late 4:48
I Long To See You 4:50
Going My Way 4:45

Friday, July 3, 2020

Nikia: Open Book (EP) (Nuendo Music Group, 2003)

I decided to get this EP after recognizing the record label which was the same as a group Cittin Pretty which I posted here back in 2015. It turned out that she wrote all their songs and the two acts were produced by the same people. Sadly I was not a big fan of Cittin Pretty - their music, vocals and the production on the tracks was just a little too weak - but the above artist really stands out. Mixing teen contemporary R&B ("Picture This"), funk-laden dancefloor fillers ("Give Me A Sign") and heart-wrenching ballads ("Hard To Believe"), the production and vocals here are great. Originally from East Meadow, New York, Nikia worked with The Gap Band, Quincy Jones, Chaka Khan and New Birth before recording this CD which was only one of 5 that the label ever released.

Picture This 3:30
Give Me A Sign 3:33
Hard To Believe 4:44
Picture This (Acoustic) 3:05