Yolanda "La La" Brown & iCandi

The forgotten Midwest R'n'B duo that met a tragic end.

Kandi and Tiny

Off The Hook: Unreleased demos from the early 2000s!

Keyshia Cole

The way it wasn't.

MQ3

Another shelved R'n'B group from 1997

From Tha'Rayne To The First Seed

Unreleased Yummy Bingham from 2006.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Rocx: Promo EP (200x)

This is another one that I cannot find a lick of information about. It was sold from a British seller but definitely sounds American and features West Coast rapper Pozition on track 2. At least one of the tracks came off an album or EP “Can I Hit It” and a further song can also be found on this compilation here. Possibly from Phoenix, Arizona as per the label Genre Records but not 100 % certain. 
 
Baby    4:30
Baby (Featuring Pozition)    5:10
Baby (Acappella)    4:08
Gave You My Best    4:18
Gave You My Best (Acappella)    4:15 

 

Laura Diamante: Styles Upon Styles (Too Savvy Entertainment, 2003)

Further Latina R&B and hip hop music from Miami, FL with Laura Diamante, an artist who was destined for big things but sadly never got the break she deserved. Discovered while performing with her former band Deadbeatz, she was one of the label Too Savvy’s first signees. Able to sing and rap, a handful of major labels were interested but it seemed they wanted to turn her into the next Angie Martinez when she aspired and had the potential to be the Latina Lauryn Hill. Instead she remained underground, delivering a set that is both hip hop and contemporary, as well as staying true to her Latin roots. The buzz single “Spanish Fly” also included a reply to Diddy’s 2002 song “I Need a Girl” that did not appear on the set.
 
Intro    4:35
My DJ ft. Vortex    4:19
Move Wit Me    4:05
Spanish Fly    5:01
High Times    4:50
Da Bounce ft. Gold    4:12
MCs    3:44
Interlude    2:51
Déja Vu    4:19
Live My Life    4:28
 
 

Miceala Marie: Love Letter (EP) (201x)

 
From the Northwest, a 3 track demo from Bremerton, WA native Micaela Marie (later MicaelaT). No date of recording but as per the music video to one track “Love Letter” on You Tube, from 2012 quite possibly. Taken from her mini album “Writings On The Wall” which may or may not have been released but is available to stream in its entirety on The two other tracks here. “Hate When I Think of You” and “Can’t Explain” seem to be exclusive to here though and are very much late 2000s R&B with electronic beats, synths and sweeping piano sounds.
 
Love Letter    3:06
Hate When I Think Of You    3:16
Can't Explain    4:33
 

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Chivalry: Won't Pay Your Bills (CDS) (Speakouthotline.com)


Found at a thrift shop in Florida, a reply to Destiny’s Child’s “Bills Bills Bills” and featuring former Nickelodeon actor Jean-Dominique in the lineup. It pretty much keeps the original melody as it was although the lyrics are pretty much from a male perspective. Possibly related to Speakouthotline.org, a public hotline where people can anonymously report threatening behavior although not 100% certain. 

Won't Pay Your Bills    2:56

Chazz1: I Care 4 U (Self-Titled, 2000)

Further great R&B/soul music from Ohio and an earlier self-released version of a 2001 album that is in the possession of quite a few collectors. I don’t believe he is Milwaukee artist Chazz Dixon and I don’t believe he was affiliated with the Mississippi act Vintage. He is very similar to this artist that we posted back at the beginning of the year with classic soul vocals laid over smooth 90s keyboard sounds. The album is essentially the same as his 2001 release but for one or two different tracks and some alternative titling.Very enjoyable!

Deeper    4:17
Your Night    3:39
I Care 4 U    5:09
Look At Me Now    5:05
I'll Be There 4 U    4:38
When Your Away    5:14
Feelings Gone    4:51
What Ever U Want    4:42
The System    4:05
Hold On    3:04
Always The One    4:39
Just A Feeling    5:08

Paula Latham: S/T (EP) (Jazzy Records, 1997)

 
Getting her start as the lead vocalist for a jazz band (Victor Floyd Jazz Band), Latham’s work was also lumped into the jazz category despite being influenced by Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston and other notable soul divas from the 80s and 90s. From Dayton, Ohio, this debut EP from her is straight up 90s R&B with infectious grooves and funky beats. Her cover of DeBarge’s “A Dream” later appeared on an EP released in 2001 but most – if not all – of these songs sound like they were recorded for the same project in the mid-to-late 90s. “You Give Good Love” in particular incorporates an uncredited sample from Sade’s 1992 song “Cherish The Day”. 
 
Funk Intro    1:14
Someone Like U    4:16
A Dream    4:44
You Give Good Love    4:44
Let's Talk About It    4:12
 

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Night & Day: Wait To Get Laid (Cassingle) (F.L.I.N.T Records, 1991)

 
Old radio station stock and a very early release from Night & Day who were mostly known for their 1995 single “Goin Thru a Thang” and 1999’s “Dante’s Girl” (on Jive Records.) It’s a fantastic love-making jam while the b-side features narration which was in part inspired by the Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas sexual harassment lawsuit (1991.) No clues as to if it came off an earlier project that that the duo, who came from Flint, MI, did but it is (as far as I can tell) yet to be been seen anywhere else and was distributed by Nine Records Inc., a label known for their association with acts such as Funkadelic and The Ohio Players in the late 80s/early 90s.
 
Wait To Get Laid    4:26
Wait To Get Laid (Narr.)    4:26 
 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Serious Business: #1 (Aset, 1991)

Old radio station stock and another unknown modern soul/boogie outfit similar to The Executives which I posted back in 2019. Both had one single on Discogs but any albums from either of them you would be hard-pressed to find. All releases from the above label in particular seem to fetch quite high prices due to the scarcity. The music from this group, a sextuplet, is primarily early 90s boogie/soul music with “Don’t Waste My Time” truly outdoing it with the quintessential late 80s bombastic synths and saxophone sounds.
 
Talkin' Serious Business    3:50
Get On Up (Enjoy Yourself)    4:15
Forever In My Heart    5:29
United    4:30
Please Be Mine    4:33
Savoring Our Love    4:09
Feel My Love    4:42
Don't Waste My Time    3:47
Girl Of My Dreams    4:32
Don't Drink And Drive    4:44

LaJa' Ti-Rosch: Actions Speak Louder Than Words (Cassingle) (Pearl Records, 1991)

 
Old radio station stock with Kansas City gospel/R&B quartet LaJa Ti-Rosch, whose debut album “Like” was one of the first indie things that my co-contributor Stuaaart ever brought back in 2014. This single from them was not featured on the album which was mostly gospel in an early 90s New Jack/traditional style. There’s no holding back either with lyrics such as “he told me he gonna take me out to dinner, instead he brought me a beef & bean burrito from Taco Bells and a cup of water!” A great early 90s indie track with the b-side track "Believe N Yourself" being one of the better tracks on their album. 
 
Actions Speak Louder Than Words    4:38
Believe N Yourself    4:52

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Fantastic R&B and G-Funk from Las Vegas, NV

Fantastic R&B and G-Funk from Mighty Plump Records, a small Las Vegas label that only seems to be known for one artist L.A. Down and his 1996 album “Promise II Funk” Containing many excerpts of songs by other artists that they had on their roster back then, not limited to female G-Funk MC Aqui (Alicia Taylor) and Jodeci-esque male artist Tate, not much else is known about them but Aqui released one single “Dance Let Your Body Flow” in 1996. Her tracks on the sampler were assumedly part of her album "Hands All Over Me" which may or may not have been released. 

Freak In Me    1:54 (Aqui)
Put Your Hands    2:18 (Aqui)
3 Strikes    1:55 (Aqui)
2 Night    1:34 (Aqui)
Fadin    2:08 (Aqui)
Nothins Changed    1:37 (Drayfist)
Hypnotic Funk    1:38 (M.P.C.)
Leavin Out My Life    1:52 (Machedi)
Funky Mic    1:43 (Machedi)
Hypnotic    1:42 (Machedi)
Groove    1:49 (Freddie Empire) (F.E. on vocals?)
My Heart    1:46 (F.E.)
Hey Girl    1:16 (F.E.)
247-365    2:34 (F.E.)
Love'll Be Waiting    1:41 (F.E.)
Hold Me    1:36 (F.E.)
Sweaty Love    1:26 (Tate)
Cash    1:32 (Tate)
Old Friends    1:48 (Tate)
Ghetto Booty    1:30 (Tate)
Hold On To Love    1:29 (Tate)
Be Watchin You    1:10 (Tate)
Don't Know Why    1:39 (Tate)
Bonus Track    1:46 (Tate)

Monday, November 15, 2021

More surprising finds on publishing CDs

Stevie Bensusen is a British songwriter who is somewhat of a hidden gem. Despite being primarily attached to pop music, I've come to find he has written quite a few songs that I have previously enjoyed including “You’re The One I Love” and “Much Love” by Shola Ama.  Here is a small selection of his later work with some tracks that made it onto albums by Jordan Knight, O-Town and others but I was surprised to see Canela and Damozel on here. Damozel’s track “Seal It With A Kiss” was recorded during their MCA days but was later given to Na’shay and appeared as “Seal It” on her 2009 album “R U Ready.” Both are pretty much identical in production and although the track finally surfaced in 2009, I believe that it and the rest of the album was recorded in 2003/2004. Canela's track "Sunny Days" was also recorded during her stint at DreamWorks Records but also never made it onto any finished version of her shelved debut album. The summery production sounds very much like Tim & Bob's but I am not 100% certain. It's a fantastic track. Also worth mentioning is the unreleased track from British vocalist Jud Mahoney, who was formally in a UK pop duo Alibi with his brother Kye in the late 90s. Championed by Michael Jackson for his solo work back in 2004, Mahoney came close to being signed to Jackson's MJJ label – they even wrote and recorded a song together – but due to the allegations against Jackson at the time, nothing was to come out of it in the end. Listening to his track here, you can definitely hear Jackson’s influence; he would’ve definitely given Justin Timberlake a run for his money had his work been released. Sadly Mahoney is yet to release an album but like Bensusen, has continued to pen songs for other artists.

When You're Lonely    4:47 (Jordan Knight)
No More    4:03 (A1)
Not A Place I Won't Miss    4:33 (O-Town)
Why    4:07 (Jud Mahoney)
Sunny Days    3:19 (Canela)
Seal It With A Kiss    4:02 (Damozel)
When You Really Love Somebody    3:49 (Damon Sharpe) (also seemingly unreleased)

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Kandi Burruss: Don't Think I'm Not

Since buying her debut release “Hey Kandi” on a whim back in 2001 because I was looking for some female R&B with an "attitude", Kandi Burruss has been one of my favorites ever since. Although I have a particular soft spot for the earlier work she did with Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs, her later stuff has been just as solid with songs such as “How Could You…Feel My Pain”, “Leave U” and “Trade Him In” employing the same sassy attitude. About 6 years before the release of her sophomore album, Burruss and her former bandmate Tameka “Tiny” Cottle were working together under the alias of K.A.T. I don’t know if they were planning on forming a duo or were writing these songs to solicit to other acts but at least five of them surfaced on MySpace during the late 2000s. The duo had written quite a few songs together in the past including what was maybe Burruss’ biggest achievement to date TLC’s “No Scrubs” but to have an actual name attached to them definitely makes me think that they were more than just a writing partnership. The original version of “Whoot Dee Woo”, which as a TLC song was always pretty mediocre, sounds great here as does the original version of Kandi’s 2010 track “Superwoman” while slow tracks such as “Lace Me” and “Do Things” definitely give me Xscape vibes. “Come Clean” is probably my most favorite song of all though; there’s definitely something about Burruss lamenting on a woman being fed up that gets me every time. I was very upset when Xscape’s fourth album never materialized but listening to this CD is definitely more than the next best thing. Fantastic as always!
 
Lace Me 4:21 
Super Woman (Single Mother) 3:53 
Do Things 4:22 
Come With Me 3:52 
Come Clean 3:59 
Watching You 4:09 
The List (Available Song) 4:08 
Look At Me 3:48 
She 4:15 
Til The Club Close 3:39 
Whoot Dee Woo (TLC Greatest Hits) 4:17 
Lock Down 2:49
 

Random rap finds out of the EU

From Lewsic and his mate J, here are two random finds out of the EU that were seemingly never released. The first is a project from a Dutch hip hop/dance act Tasta Flava whose only single, an adaption of Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car", was released in 1998. Written by Dutch rapper Andy Ninvalle, I don't think it got a very wide release - possibly owing to sample clearance issues - and almost everywhere was billed as being by Lumberjack featuring Tasta Flava. The label CNR Records was well-known, boasting homegrown artists such as Flip Da Scrip and even some big names such as 2Pac.The style is mostly smooth and funky pop-rap music with female vocals though "Everyday" and the very melodic "Love Is Calling" are both seemingly R&B/soul songs. The second is an unreleased project from Naila Boss, a UK underground rapper mostly known for her appearance in the top 10 hit “You Should Really Know” with The Pirates and Shola Ama in 2005. I usually don’t post straightforward hip hop music but I was actually quite surprised that I liked this artist; it’s not hardcore by any means but some great UK rap before the advent of mumbly fast rapping and awful grime music. There’s not much in-depth information about her but she hailed from Hackney and released her only solo single “La La La” in 2004. 

Tasta Flava: Fast Car (CDr, Promo) (CNR Recordsm 1998)
Fast Car (Acapella)    3:51
Everyday    4:15
Fast Car (Radio Version)    4:06
Got Me Waiting    4:23
Another Way    5:49
Madd Flava    4:10
Love Is Calling    6:49
Bad Boy (Nog Zonder Jozien-Version)    3:48
 
Naila Boss: Never Underestimate The Name (Album Sampler) (La Boss Records, 2004)
I Am The Boss    3:35
Luv Crazy    3:55
No Way    4:56
What    4:29
La La La    3:14

Monday, November 1, 2021

Prime Directiv featuring Sonia French: Promo EP (Seven Universal Records, 199x)

A further feature from Street Beats Series 2 (Volume 5) with Prime Directiv, a very obscure female R&B act that I first found out about after being given a few of their songs by another collector a few years back.  I didn’t know anything about them then, but the EP was supposedly promo only, and then while going through all of the Street Beats releases back last year to find all the obscurities, I found one of the songs “Sunshine” had been featured here… again not much information aside from the entity Savya Music which appeared to be associated with Earl Blaze, a hip hop producer from Brooklyn, NYC. A few months back Lewsic stumbled on the above promo which seemed to be on the same label as this lost gem. The label Seven Universal was known for their indie soul compilations and was based out of Essex (UK) but the main contributors to most if not all of the work were American with Earl Blaze and Ike Lee III being a former member of the short-lived male trio One II 3 in the early 90s. Despite being from the turn of the millennium, the style is very mid-90s smooth R&B and along with Zakiya’s second effort, it is baffling to me how it was somehow slept on. “Lonely Nights” is especially tantalizing. 

Listen to more Street Beats goodies here.
 
Is There Any Wonder    4:54
Sunshine    4:03
Lonely Nights    4:26

Steve Marshall: Mirage (EP) (State Of Emergency Records, 1998)

Formally featured on Street Beats Series 2 Volume 10 with his cover of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine”, Marshall believed that the industry didn’t give much “time and space” to UK male R&B singers unless you “knew the right person” but his debut EP was somewhat different to your average Lemars and Craig Davids with raw blues and soul appeal and…vocals. There is not much information about him, but the EP got a glowing review in an April 1998 edition of UK dance music magazine Muzik where it was described as “uplifting and full of the whole range of ingredients” and “Good home-grown talent that's more than worthy.”

Listen to more Street Beats goodness here..

You Want Me    4:18
Tranquility    4:13
Make Believe    5:47
Hurricane    5:20
Share    5:18

Delvin: Fantasty (CDS) (200x)

Another unknown out of the UK and a nice mid-tempo from a very obscure male artist. There is nothing much to this release – there is no artwork and not even any info on the disc  - but I am assuming it was intended, like much of the seller’s stuff, for community or local radio somewhere in the South East (of England.) No date of release but my guess is the mid-2000s at the very least. 

Fantasy    4:04
Fantasy (Kaida Smooth Mix)    3:47

Chase Mo: Promo EP (HKA, 2003)

From South London, a further trio of Middle-Eastern descent who released their debut single “The Bumps” in 2003. It wasn’t until 2007 that they released their first full length debut album and by then, their sound had changed from the cheeky urban-pop of “The Bumps” to something a little more mature. Back in 2003, they worked with producers who had worked with top names such as Brand New Heavies, Brownstone and Mary J. Blige and laid down a handful of tracks for an album which seemingly never saw the light of day back then. I have no idea what happened but “The Bumps” was voted to be one of 1Xtra’s top 3 home-grown tracks for that year. It never made it onto their eventual album in 2007 but the B-Side “Fire” did. In my opinion though, the original version from 2003 was far superior. It worked much better as a slow song and the attempt at trying to make it into a Rich Harrison song didn’t really work for me. Vocally not strong but I like the tone of their voices nonetheless. Their voices remind me slightly of this release I posted back in 2015.  If you are interested in hearing their 2007 album "Shut The World Out", you can buy it on iTunes.  
 
The Bumps    3:53
The Bumps (Nasty)    3:23
Fire (Bonus Track)    4:20

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Ala: You Know To Turn Me On (Promo EP) (199x)

Another obscurity from Maryland and a blend of New Jack Swing and modern soul for grown folks. No label or artist information to be found – there is no artwork - but the sound is very early 90s with real instrumentation and great soul vocals. "I'm So Ready" is particularly divine but also includes a great remake of Regina's "Dream In Color" and "Tell Me", a reply somewhat to Lionel's "Hello". 

Dream In Color (Remake) 3:18 
Undivided Attention 4:11 
Live For You 3:43 
You Know How To Turn Me On 4:33 
Tell Me 5:09 
When I'm With You 5:14 
I'm So Ready 4:24 
I Just Can't 2:29 
 

Chrystal Johnson: Got The Blues (Promo CDM) (Egyptian Fusion Music, 200x)

 
When I first listened to Johnson’s smoky delicate alto, I immediately thought of Faith Evans and rightly so as the artist – like Evans – got her start at Uptown Records. While under Andre Harrell’s wing, she was a vocal coach for Usher and R&B group Total before working on the Who’s the Man? soundtrack in 1992 and appearing alongside such esteemed artists as the Notorious B.I.G. and Jodeci with the New Jack Soul-inspired “Loving You”. Other notable places her vocals can be heard is Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s “Take You There” and Mobb Deep’s “Temperature Rising”, the latter of which reached #3 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip Hop chart in 1995. As for the above single, it has pretty much flown under the radar but was recorded in 2000 according to the Johnson’s own You Tube channel. Pete Rock pops in to cameo on the interlude while production on the bonus cut “Go” comes from Rashad “Tumblin Dice” Smith. Great neo…hip hop soul from a fantastic vocalist who should’ve been up there with Evans and Blige but somehow is yet to get the break she deserves.
 
Interlude 0:54
Got The Blues (Main Radio) 4:19
Go ft. STIC from dead prez[Bonus Track] 5:07
Got The Blues ft. P2Kay & Baby Paul (Remix) 5:07
Got The Blues ft. P2Kay & Baby Paul (Remix Instrumental) 5:08 
 

Tracella: Demo (Self-Released, 200x)

Formally a featured vocalist on “A G’s Life” by Gee-Relah, sassy and talented female vocalist Tracella steps out on her own with a fantastic first effort representing the Midwest. From the haters anthem “You Ain’t My Friend” to smooth mid-tempo cut “On My Way”, it seems this one was almost lost in the G-Funk and Hip Hop category but was fortunately found by my co-contributor Stuaaart and snapped up at auction for a very reasonable price. An additional track from the artist - who hails from Kansas City, Missouri - can be found on You Tube and there is talk of new music in 2021 so if you like what you hear, be sure to keep her on your radar.

You Ain't My Friend 3:52
On My Way 4:07
I Like It Like That 4:40
First Date 3:53
On The Floor 3:27
Should Have Waited 4:16 
 

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Marcia: Demo (''O'' Productions, 200x)

 
Another unknown from the New York area and somewhat of a chance find in a lot of underground hip hop CDs. No information about the artist but aside from a few features on some underground rap tracks, the music is contemporary R&B with a smooth, mostly timeless sound and a slight but sweet vocal. Top tracks include the smooth R&B-flavored "Be Real" and the fantastic rendition of Antia Baker's "Angel". 
 
You're The Only One 3:30 
Feeling You 4:27 
Ride With You 3:21 
Mad At The World 3:57 
Who Am I 3:14 
Swing It 4:15 
Be Real 4:39 
The Time Is Now 4:11 
Angel 5:11 
Giving You All 1:53 
Hold On Me 4:50 
When It's All Over 4:17 
I Ain't The One 3:57 
 

Erin: Demo (McDonald Marie Productions, 2003)

Another unknown from Long Beach, California and three tracks early Beyonce-esque slow jams and a cover of “Jesus Born on This Day” that makes Mariah Carey’s own version from 1994 seem tame in comparison. The artist may have been signed to Ryan Leslie’s NextSelection label at one point and appeared on Ryan Leslie’s NextSelection Lifestyle Group Mixtape from 2004.
 
Far Away 4:33 
I Love U 4:15 
Jesus, Born On This Day 3:54 
 

Tracy Lane: Demo (200x)

Further music from Long Beach with Tracy Lane (incorrectly listed as Tracy Kane), a male singer/songwriter that has remained pretty underground despite having a very contemporary R&B/soul sound. From the the blues-flavored "Life Of Mine" to the R. Kelly-esque “Hold It Down”, he was definitely an artist that didn’t belong in the background. There was no track list on the disc but the titles were retrieved from the Grace Note database so whether this set was released at some point independently, I cannot say. He performed a lot with fellow Long Beach artist RIDIKULE and even appeared on a few of his tracks, but aside from one single “Cold World” which was released in 2018, there’s nothing else that seems to be widely available from him. 
 
Mate    4:59
Rules    3:55
Girl    2:29
Streets Of Mine    4:01
Retarded Bounce    4:03
Girl (U Know That I Want It)    3:56
Perfect Lady    3:52
My Pops    4:12
Spell    5:10
Life Of Mine    4:33
Imperfections    3:43
Hustla    3:29
Hold It Down    3:55

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Elsie Muniz: The "Urban Latina"

Towards the end of the 90s and going into the new millennium, it seemed that most pop artists had at least one Latin-sounding song on their album (Toni’s “Spanish Guitar”, Mariah’s “After Tonight” et al). Though the sound wasn’t exactly new in the U.S., where I was in Britain this was pretty much a new thing for us. Sadly though, it was always a little too geared towards pop music and artists such as Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez. Despite the market for Chicano Rap and Hip Hop music, there was never really much of a demand for R&B and what was even worse, some artists such as Elsie Muniz, felt that they needed to explain why they weren’t like everybody else. The intro on Muniz’ album speaks volumes at how narrow-minded some of these labels were: “Growing up I had a lot of exposure to different cultures…I think the diversity of my upbringing helped to mold me as an individual. It’s me being Latin and growing up in a black neighborhood (that) was a blessing because it helped blend two worlds together…I just hope that the public can hear all these things through my music…” Of Puerto-Rican decent, Muniz grew up in a traditional Latin family but wanted her music to reflect “everything she grew up with.” Unfortunately, it seemed that her label wasn’t entirely comfortable with this. Muniz was one of three female R&B artists signed to A. Haqq Islam’s University Records label, whose biggest success story back then was Dru Hill, but not feeling the need to explain why as Latina she was singing R&B instead of striving to be the next Selena, she moved on pretty quickly and her album “Urban Latina” was never released. We were fortunate enough to find a cassette sampler last year containing some of these lost tracks but until now the full project had never surfaced. It had been cataloged on Discogs for about a year wherein it was said that it had a limited digital release in 2008 but I have thus far found no proof that it ever was. Formally hearing Brandy’s version of “Fooled by The Moon” when it leaked back in 2009, I have always been curious about Muniz’ version and about Mya and Terry Dexter’s involvement on it. Originally written by Diane Warren, I am unsure about who recorded it first but Brandy’s version was said to be cast off from the recording of her sophomore album “Never Say Never” in 1998. Brandy’s version was a typical 90s Babyface production but Elsie’s version stays true to her Latin roots with both Mya and Terry Dexter each taking turns in singing. Timbaland’s “As We Danced,” with Muniz’ sultry vocals and infectious hook, was also a possible follow-up single that never was. The album is predominantly very upbeat with hard-edged beats and Latin guitar riffs throughout but the one exception to the rule is the blues-soaked “Oklahoma City” with the great Terry Dexter. Altogether a very colorfully promising debut album from Muniz, who along with Sierra, was a superior product to J-Lo. Why the label was so hung up on making it an issue of race, I’ll never know.

Interlude    0:17
You Drive Me Crazy    5:07
As We Danced    4:29
La Gata Negra (The Black Cat)    4:14
Take Control (Feat 1 Life 2 Live)    4:57
Does She Know    3:36
Your Eyes    4:12
Lost With You    4:41
Fooled By The Moon (Feat Mya & Terri Dexter)    4:21
What If    5:54
Giving Up On Love     3:48
Oklahoma City (Feat Terri Dexter)    4:29
Tus Ojas (Your Eyes Spanish Version)    4:13

Muniz with Nino Brown   

Saturday, October 9, 2021

MQ3: another causalty of Chris Stokes

Over the years I have had the pleasure of sampling many unreleased projects and across many of them two names always seem to come up: Sylvia Rhone and Chris Stokes. While Rhone had spoiled many quality R&B projects when she was the head of East West Records and later Universal Motown, Stokes has also left behind a trail of casualties in his wake not limited to the short-lived quartet Gyrl and early projects by two of the Chilombo girls. The above was another such group and whose only single “Everyday” was written by Stokes and produced by Rodney “Darkchid” Jerkins in 1997. Signed to Virgin’s short-lived Noo Trybe imprint, they were also co-signed to Get Hooked Records which I believe was affiliated with Stokes in the mid to late 90s. There is little information about them aside from a few very brief mentions in some 1997 issues of Billboard magazine but according to one member Shadie who commented on their You Tube video, they completed not one but two albums. Continuing on she says “Unfortunately, things did not pan out with the management and production team we signed to so it got lost in the shuffle.” A very common story that we have unfortunately heard many times before. Admittedly, I was not the biggest fan of “Everyday”; to me, it did not have the same bodacious vibe as Mary’s “I Can Love You” or Brandy & Monica’s “The Boy Is Mine” and I can’t help but think that it was just pushed as a first single primarily to cash in on the rising popularity of Jerkins at the time. I think this group could’ve done better. Well, it is a long story us finally getting this tape but I can say that indeed “Everyday” was just the tip of the iceberg. From the funk-driven “Love Jones” to the love-making of ”Don’t Make Me Stop” and “Love Letter” to the smooth R&B sounds of “Serving Me” and “Share My World”, every track on it is like a chronology of the best sounds from the latter part of the 90s. They were basically what I imagine Gyrl would’ve sounded like had they ever released an album back then. Aside from Jerkins on “Everyday”, I am inclined to believe that Stokes produced quite a few tracks on here, namely “Share My Love” which features one of his short-lived MCs from back then Spark. It is often assumed that they were Jerkins’ group (a producer who despite his immense popularity in the late 90s/early 2000s also had his fair share of casualties) but now I am leaning more towards Stokes as being the main driving force behind them which is probably one of the main reasons why they sadly didn’t go anywhere. As for their other album, I can only dream of how great that one was as well.
 
Everyday    3:26
Serving Me    3:44
Icing On The Cake    3:30
Cry    3:51
1,000 Times    4:01
Love Jones    4:18
Don't Make Me Stop    4:17
Baby Bay You    4:10
Share My Love    3:54
Love Letter    4:38
Say Goodbye    3:58
Mama Said    3:19
Back To You    4:17
Everyday    3:38

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Mary J. Blige: More unreleased from the "Share My World" era

Over the years I have sampled many unreleased cuts from Mary’s albums and this is by far one of my favorites. Featuring production from Erick Sermon, it was yet another track cut from the “Share My World” album that up until now had only been available on a mix tape. It is probably one of Mary’s hardest tracks to find without shouting all over it but it seems the original source recording originated from the above promo-only tape which predated the album's eventual name. The three other scrapped tracks “Everyday”, “Would You” (aka “Paradise”) and “Always Be My Baby” (aka “Where You Are) do not appear but the b-side track “Don’t Walk Away” does. Before now I never knew that this was a contender for the album but I understand why they left it off in the end. Though it does not have the same crossover appeal that Jerkins’ tracks had for the album, “When I’m With You” on the other hand oozes "old skool" hip hop greatness and would not have sounded out of place following "Keep Your Head" or "Love Is All We Need" on the finished album. Many thanks again to Bert Fartencauf for the contribution!

Hear more unreleased cuts from the "Share My World" era here.