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.

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