Yolanda "La La" Brown & iCandi

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

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.

From Tha'Rayne To The First Seed

Unreleased Yummy Bingham from 2006.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

More unsigned heat from GA: Daylon Alexander

Born in Chicago, raised in Little Rock, AK and now based in The Bronx, NY, here is another find from the defunct community radio station in Atlanta, GA. With the musical prowess of R. Kelly and the swagger of an MC, Alexander’s music is smooth and full of emotion. Backed by the infamous DJ Enuff, he was a rising star back in ’03 but is still sadly unsigned despite having appeared on stage with some of the towering giants of the industry. His first EP Days Of Night can be found on Amazon.
“With a captivating allure, and a voice that can roll like thunder and yet, still hit every bittersweet note. Daylon Alexander has the ability to lay women in trances, or to politically sway the mind of those oppressed. Whether you are snapping away dancing to his upbeat persona, or laying on your couch reminiscing of a past love, Daylon will move you.” – Reverbnation.

DJ Enuff/ You Want It 4:57
First Sight 4:02
Back Up! 2:45
Cheatin 4:23
4-Play 5:05
Daddy's Home 4:09
Stunna 3:10
Rodeo 1:03
Is What It Is 3:29
All Or Nothin 4:19
To Mama 4:52

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Umoja featuring TNO: Get Cha Wet (Promo Single) (Versachild-Black Phoenix Recordings, 1998)

From a now defunct community radio station in Atlanta, Georgia, another underground gem from 1998 and primarily a smooth R&B outfit with southern hip hop influences and sexy and titillating lyrics. There’s nothing about them anywhere but the song was said to be taken from the then-forthcoming album “The Sea.” Along with Kaize Adams, Andre and Michael Hall, definitely one of my highlights thus far of 2021.

Get Cha Wet - Radio 4:44 
Charge It To The Game 4:48 
Get Cha Wet (Seamix) Radio 3:27 
Get Cha Wet (Album) 4:44 
Get Cha Wet (Seamix) Album 3:26 
 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Andre: The Truth (Demo EP) (Tear Drops Productions, 199x)

Along the same lines as the artist above, here is another fantastic find from a now-defunct community radio station in Atlanta, Georgia which fortunately - despite being another quite old CDr - did play perfectly from beginning to end. Highlights for me are the gorgeous mid-tempo cut "Sorry" and the smooth 90s chill R&B vibe "Can I Kick It"...both very well written and produced by the artist himself who I believe is this guy here. According to a Japanese article sourced online, it seems he hailed from Houston, Texas although I am not 100% certain. 

Sorry    5:16
Sexy Got It    3:19
Can I Kick It    3:47
Jesus Love    4:25

Michael Hall: Millennium Soul (Demo EP) (LeSong.com, 2000)

Another absolute gem, which again came from the same defunct community radio station in Atlanta, Georgia. Hailing from Jonesboro, not much is known about him or his producer (DeShan Bowers) but the music is old school R&B at its finest with soulful, smooth vocals. "Sexy Little Playgirl" in particular is an absolute delight to listen to though the song and another (track 3) are very much ruined by disc rot. 

Sexy PlayGirl    4:06
The Heat Is On    4:39
Sweet Lady    4:45

Kaize Adams: Self-Titled EP (CBX/One Stop LLC., 1997)

From a defunct community radio station in Atlanta, another underground gem from 1997 and a mixture of 90s R&B, New Jack Swing and gorgeous modern soul with Bobby Brown-esque flava. The artist, who hails from Columbia SC, had aspirations to become an R&B singer straight out of High School before God showed him that R&B music wasn't for him. In an interview with UK Gospel website Cross Rhythms.co.uk, he said "God showed me that R&B wasn't me. It didn't reflect what I was all about, and the lifestyle and content of some lyrics didn't line up to my beliefs, my character. Gospel music, on the other hand, did." He released "Testimony" in 2003 and the rest is history, but in my humble opinion his R&B work should not be discounted. "Teach Me How To Love" in particular is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. 

The 1-4-Me    4:33
Cool Night    3:42
Love Possibility    3:29
You Are My Lady    6:08
The 1-4-Me (Remix Edit)    5:05
Teach Me How To Love    3:57
Cool Night (Remix Edit)    3:42
Outro    1:33

Monday, August 30, 2021

Unreleased R&B tracks from a well-known pop producer?

Guy Roche is not somebody that immediately springs to mind when I think of great R&B music but he had produced slower songs by some notable artists in the past, not limited to Brandy, Xscape, Chanté Moore, Aaliyah and Brandy. Outside of this he is mainly a pop producer and writer, having written and produced hits for Christina Aguilera, Vitamin C and others I don’t really listen to. Often taking gambles on certain unique things I find on eBay, I found and brought a rare promo CD of his last year which contained some pop-rock demos so if anything he is an extremely versatile songwriter and producer as far as popular music goes. Here are two surprisingly good unused cuts from him which were found on a quite rare BMG promo disc featuring a selection of his work throughout the years. The first “Something Special” definitely gives me Brandy vibes - could it have been written at the same time as “Almost Doesn’t Count” for her “Never Say Never” album? - while the second “Lost” (sung by an unknown male vocalist) is another of his sweeping soul ballads a la “The Arms of the One Who Loves You”. Both were unused from what I can tell with both being co-written by his regular writing partner Shelly Peiken. Notable songs that they had written together include "What A Girl Wants" by Christina Aguilera and "Bitch" by Meredith Brooks. Not hardcore urban stuff by any stretch of the imagination, but just goes to show if you look hard enough you can still find enjoyable tunes in some unlikely places. 
 
 

Devoe: 1 Night (Promo CDS) (Shaydoss Productions, 200x)

Another unique find from a UK music producer and an early 2000s uptempo ballad from an unknown female artist. No clues as to who she is – the disc is basically just a hand scribed CDr with a hand-cut paper inlay – but she has a similar tone to Shola Ama.
 
1 Night    4:43

Cyan: The EP (Promo) (DMD Wreckadz, 2003)

More unknown contemporary blues and neo soul music from the UK and once again spotted in a pile of random finds from a music producer. The set yielded one single “Never Ever” in 2001, with the above EP being released in 2003 on 12” vinyl only. No ideas as to who the artist is but the writer of the set had worked with two other UK artists Fierce and Personèlle in the past.

Right For You    3:52
Love Has Got Me Crazy    5:09
Time Has Changed    4:14
Never Ever (Steady Mix)    4:15
Never Ever (Ready Mix)    4:40
Reasons Why (Smokin' Mix)    3:59

Monday, August 23, 2021

Elizabeth "Yummy" Bingham: From Tha' Rayne to The First Seed

Originally one third of the female R&B trio Tha' Rayne, Elizabeth "Yummy" Bingham's vocals were unique and lively. As the daughter of a seasoned producer (Dinky Bingham) and the Goddaughter of two Soul and R&B greats Chaka Khan and Aaron Hall, a career in music was something she was born to have. Starting out as part of Tha' Rayne in the early 2000s, Bingham's vocals were briefly everywhere before the label Arista Records decided that the group's album "Reign Supreme" was to never be released. Following this she became the appointed vocalist for De-La-Soul before hooking up with then-popular producer at the time Rockwilder to form Musik Park Records, making at the time her the youngest female executive in history. Sadly her first album for the label and its distributor Universal Motown "The First Seed" was never to see a US release despite all the odds in her favor. It seems she suffered a similar fate to Mya whose own album for the same label also had the brakes thrown on it. It will come as no surprise who the head of Universal Motown was at the time: Sylvia Rhone. It seemed - in Bingham's case at least - that there was a clash of titans. Released in the UK only, "The First Seed" was a solid and consistent set by Bingham who was destined to be a queen but ended up as little more than an afterthought. Once again found among a pile of random finds from a UK music producer, here is an unreleased track cut from the album that has since gone on to become one of my absolute favorites.
 
Intro 1:45 
Come Get It 3:27 
Is It Good To You (W_Shit) 2:41 
I Don't Really 3:35 
You Ain't Ready 3:50 
Quickie 4:23 
Never Happened 3:07 
Piece Of My Heart 4:01 
What More_ 4:32 
Just Leave 2:31 
One More Chance 5:46 
Had To Be 3:56 
All My Life 3:18 
Time 5:02 
Queenz 1:41

Celestine: Sampler (Promo) (Epic, 200x)

Further unreleased music with Celestine whose reply to Jay-Z's track "Girls Girls Girls" went unreleased in 2003. Credited to "Cellie" or "Teresa", the track can be found on a handful of white label and bootleg vinyls from the early 2000s, the most notable being the faux DJ Premier label "Empire Management Recordings." It was also remixed by UK Garage producer Ed Case and credited to "Ghetto Child featuring Celestine" via Sony UK's Urban Division in 2002. It seems at one point the artist was signed to Epic Records though there isn't as much of a scrap of information to be found on her anywhere though after doing some casual digging, there's a possibility she was part of the Bristol-based R&B trio Sha-Du-Ni (as Celestine Gordan.) It certainly is a small world, at least in the UK. She was also the original singer of the song "Married Man" which was later given to Australian singer Paulini for her "Superwoman" album in 2006. Though both vocalists appeared to have graduated from the Beyonce Knowles school of singing, Celestine definitely had the stronger, more distinct voice out of the two.

Guys, Guys, Guys     2:52

Married Man     2:32
Been A While     3:34 

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

J'Nay: More great R&B music from the MOBOs

Further music from the MOBOs with J'Nay (real name John Adeleye) who won the Unsung Award for his song "Soul Glo" in 2003 (he is not to be confused with the female singer N'Jay who was also the recipient of an award at the MOBOs in 2001.) I am guessing the "Unsung" category was a later incarnation of the "Unsigned" category that they used up until 2002. We have found some amazing artists hidden away in these categories not limited to Alyson Brown, One82 and many more. West London born, Adeleye drew his inspirations from Motown, funk, rock and soul to create a masterful collection of tracks that sadly never saw the light of day. Telling BBC's Newsround back in the day "I enjoy pieces of things - I might take a hip-hop beat, and a soul guitar. My first thing is breaking molds". He was critically acclaimed, garnering comparisons to Al Green and other greats of their day but as with many artists that grace this rather overlooked category at the MOBOs, he got a record deal out of it and then disappeared without so much as a single. He was signed to Island Records and was penning songs with Lisa Stansfield and Guy Chambers, but in 2010 he appeared on The X Factor where he drew controversy for his past 'accomplishments' in trash tabloid The Sun. A great artist that was way ahead of his time but if anything else, he is still performing. 
 
Let It Rain    3:17
Let Me In    3:54
Live The Dream    3:38
Never Judge A Book By It's Cover    3:31
Party Outside    3:42
Party Started    2:54
Seasons    3:42
Shifted    3:37
Sometimes    3:58
Spooks    3:51
That Was Tomorrow    2:59
Want To Experience    2:38
Welcome To My World    4:18
What Is Your Problem    4:11
When The Talking Stops    3:26
Work It    3:48
You    3:12
You're Gonna Lose That Girl    4:01

 

Hear more great artists from the Unsigned/Unsung category at the MOBOs here

Dee C. Lee: Sampler (Promo) (199x)

Unreleased music from Dee C Lee, a former backing singer for Wham! and later a member of The Style Council in the early 80s. As a solo artist, she released 3 albums between 1986 and 1998 but her career overall spans more than 35 years. I am guessing these tracks were recorded for her 1998 album "Smiles" ("Don't You" did eventually make it on to the album) but the other two are seemingly unreleased. While her earlier 80s work pretty much picked up from where Style Council left off, her stuff in the 90s is a lot more downtempo. Sadly much of it was never released in the UK. 
 
Don't You    5:00
Dreaming    4:54
Say    3:10

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Lovemore And Buffalo (Associates): Sampler (Promo) (Go Beat, 200x)

Spotted by me in amongst a pile of random finds unearthed by a music producer, this duo is somewhat of a mystery to me but they did release one single "Giving It Up / Don't Cry" which featured production from a further UK Garage outfit, the Stanton Warriors. I think this is most likely the reason why it was lost in the UK Garage category but both tracks were quite radio-friendly urban-pop with male R&B vocals. I don't know anything about them but as per the above compilation, they were signed to Go! Beat at one point, either as a musical duo or as writers. The production here though - mostly a type of downtempo electronic music - is very stripped down and nothing at all like their 12". Were these unfinished demos? A very interesting find nevertheless with ties to the UK Garage scene. 

Want Your Love 4:22 
Running 4:54 
Sometimes 5:02 
Wild World 4:40 (features an interpolation of Cat Stevens' 1971 song of the same name)
Give Me What You Want 3:00 
Sexual 4:05
 

B-15 Project: Album Sampler (Promo) (Relentless Records, 200x)

Being formally from Britain, UK Garage remains to be somewhat of a hidden interest of mine outside of contemporary R&B music. Back when it was just great music to dance to, the above duo - from Birmingham - enjoyed brief success in the UK Charts with a top 10 hit "Girls Like Us" which I never seemed to have heard back then. Originally signed to a record label co-owned by two members of UB40, their music was a blend of 2-Step, speed garage, dub and Jamaican Dance Hall music. Sadly despite the popularity of UK Garage at the time, their album was never released. This was possibly due to sample clearance issues although I am not 100% certain. They may have been at the forefront of adding toasting to UK Garage music, later inspiring others to do the same. These were two genres which worked quite well together as the later popularity of female trio Mis-Teeq would later show. 
 
Rock Ya 4:03 
Girls Like Us 4:57 
Let The Games Begin 4:09 
Birmingham Crew 5:13 
Everyone Falls In Love 3:45 
Love & Music 2:58

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Songwriters: Kenya Nelson & Jimmy Roach

More songwriter demos from music publisher BugMusic containing (as far as I am aware) unreleased productions from two little known songwriters with quite interesting backstories. The first, Kenya Nelson, I believe may be related to Marc Nelson, a former member of Boyz II Men, Az Yet and more recently super group The Blayse. He did some writing and backing vocals on Marc’s 1999 album “Chocolate Mood” but despite having a name for himself, he always seemed to be in the background. He is an adept vocalist, having recorded and performed his own song “Forever Love” in 2012 (available to download at the digital music store of your choice.) All songs here are performed by him with the exception of “Man It Up” which is performed by an unknown female vocalist. The second Jimmy Roach is primarily a guitarist – he started out paying for the likes of Ike Turner and Bobby Womack - but has worked with quite a few contemporary R&B and hip hop artists over the years. He is mostly known for his work on Snoop’s “Last Meal” album and the track “Bring It On”. Produced for his production company Roach Power Music, these are guitar-driven, funk and blues-laced contemporary R&B songs with mostly male vocals. A few sound unfinished and one track “Gave Me Your Love” is entirely instrumental. Altogether two quite interesting finds from BugMusic which I have very rarely seen anything but adult contemporary rock and pop music from. In 2011 the company was brought and absorbed into BMG Rights Management but much of their back catalog can still be found online.

Kenya Nelson
Man It Up    3:25
My World    3:16
Cry For You    4:53
Let's Go    3:20

Jimmy Roach
Good Times    2:54
Gave Me Your Love    1:53
Never Say Never    3:38
Time After Time    4:08
The Way We Were    2:56

Saturday, July 17, 2021

iCandi: Promo EP (Urban Street / So Famous Entertainment, 2004)

I originally stumbled upon this great duo back in 2017 but owing to the many pitfalls of the USPS and the cheapest service they offer for 12” vinyl records “Media Mail”, it arrived broken completely in two. It wasn’t until the end of 2018 that another copy came up for sale and I was lucky enough to get it in one piece then. Originally from the Midwest, they were tipped for big things which saw one half of the duo Yolanda “La La” Brown feature on the track “S.E.X.” by Lyfe Jennings in 2006. Sadly just a year later in 2007, her life was tragically cut short when both she and her then-boyfriend were gunned down at a recording studio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The crime is still unsolved to this day. As for iCandi, both Brown and Wichita’s Loree Marzett had been singing together as a duo since 2002 and were signed to Urban Street / So Famous Entertainment, a production company based out of St. Louis, Missouri. Taking the best of 90s proponents SWV, 702 and Destiny’s Child, the duo offered street-orientated yet tasteful R&B music with youthsome appeal and a touch of grace. Working with Midi Mafia, Dwayne Bastiany and James Glasco, they constructed a fantastic R&B set which sadly never saw the light of day as a commercial release or even yielded one proper single. Before now, the only tangible music I had ever seen by them was a white label 12” that at one point it seemed I could not get in one piece. The above promo, which my good chum Stuaaart got for an absolute steal a few months back, contains at least some of the songs they had lined up for their album back then. From the Southern-style beats on “Ooh Wee!!” (Midi Mafia), to the sweeping string arrangements of the no-nonsense “That’s My Word”, to the Beyonce “Baby Boy”-esque flava of “All Night”, this sophisticated duo – once rated as one of the hottest new female groups around – was a real missed opportunity by all.

"When it comes to stunning looks and angelic voices, men just can't resist behaving in ways that are completely out of character, borderline foolish. Perhaps all is not lost, or is it?

Singing as a duo since early 2002, ICANDI (pronounced eye-candy) has been bestowed upon the music industry like a sleuth in the night vicariously through 19yr. old Wichita, Kansas native Loree Marzett and 18yr old Milwaukee, Wisconsin native Yolanda Brown. And Wow! These ladies are just that, ICANDI.

Signed to St. Louis based production company Urban Street / So Famous Entertainment, for the purpose of re-invigorating R&B music, with 90's musical influences of SWV, 702 and Destiny's Child. Set to continue that same tradition, like true gems, this teenage duo tastefully blend their abilities to mix R&B and Hip-Hop music with a dash of youthful tease and curiosity.

Discovered by Urban Street, Loree and Yolonda started recording with the SoFamous production team of Dwayne Bastiany and James Glasco (who has contributed production and writing to Lil'Mo, 112, Sylena Johnson, ISYSS, 3LW, Deborah Cox). Constructing graceful lead vocals, interweaving harmonies on street-laced and smooth-yet-edgy beats on songs like "Can't Believe", "Then", "Ooh Wee!!" and "Mama Said" prove that ICANDI aim to shatter the typical girl group clichés that's quick to categorize and pigeonhole newcomers.

Coupled with prodigious vocals and lyrically positive affirmations of youthful emotions and feelings, ICANDI is poised to keep an eye (candi) on longevity…." -iCandi Official Website
Ooh Wee 3:44 
Ooh Wee [Radio] 3:45 
Ooh Wee [Instrumental] 4:07 
That's My Word 3:21 
That's My Word [Radio] 3:28 
That's My Word [Instrumental] 3:16 
All Night (Bonus Track) 2:48 

Friday, July 16, 2021

Twise: Bounce/1. 2. 3 (VLS) (PAID Music, 200x)

Prior to carving out quite a resume for herself in the film industry, Tika Sumpter was one half of a musical duo Twise with NYC-based rapper PreCISE (Marcella Brailsford.) Described as having 'the issue-tackling sincerity of "TLC", and the “block party ready vibe of "Salt & Pepa...", they released one single “Uh-Huh” for Universal Records in 2001. Producer Terence Abney noted back in 2001 "I missed the fun approach and social impact that acts like TLC and Salt & Pepa offered to hip hop music, TWISE revisits that in a unique way, they have a lot to offer the world through their music." Following this they appeared together on a few compilations and at some point released the above 12” via Abney’s PAID Music label. I don’t know if the tracks originated from their time at Universal but “Bounce” in particular was said to be lifted from their PAID Music debut aptly titled “THINK-TWISE”. 

 
Now returning with their follow up single "Bounce" an ode to the custom auto lifestyle (they own a convertible 1970 Cadillac Coup Deville) and their bass heavy PAID Music debut "THINK-TWISE". TWISE is prepared to bring some fun back to hip hop and push the known boundaries of R&B. Songs like the southern bounce meets rock tinged flavor of Superstar and the back and forth melodic wordplay of the albums title track Think-Twise do just that. Sexy additions like Un-wrapped and the teeming on electronic Fly Girl certainly make a case for pushing the envelope. Then there's the personal and emotionally caressing Questions. "It's a song about coming to terms and dealing with Depression. The question is what happened to the vibrant and full of life girl I used to be" Says Tika "and how do I get back to her?" Its a powerful song and a very real question for many people. TWISEs music exudes independence, self esteem and respect. It is common practice to compare hot female groups to each other, but with this groups new look of a singer and a rapper. Paired with statuesque looks, hot chocolate complexions and sexy attitudes. TWISE will remain set apart from the rest, and most definitely have you THINK TWISE!! -SoundClick
 
I don’t know if it was ever released but at one point, Sumpter was offering samples of various tracks through her official website and then back in 2015, a quite random chap contacted me via my old email address and very kindly informed me that he had some type of unreleased album by the duo; I just wasn’t to ever get it as I didn't have anything 'rare' enough to offer up in return apparently. By 2004 Sumpter's acting career had already taken off and her time in Twise was quickly forgotten about as she forged ahead with her acting career. Regardless, there was definitely a niche in the market for this edgy duo at the time and with the right team behind them I believe they could've gone somewhere, even if just for one album.
 
Bounce - Main mix 3:50 
Bounce Instrumental 3:52 
Acapella 3:30 
Main mix 2:56 
Instrumental 2:55 
Acpaella 2:55 
Bounce (Chopped & Screwed Mix) 5:10 
 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Denosh: Tonight (CDM) (BeatFactory, 1997)

 
Further music from now defunct Canadian label BeatFactory in the late 90s with Denosh (Bennett), a talented singer from Toronto, ON who these days works as a backing vocalist for some big names in the industry. The original version featured on BeatFactory’s Groove Essentials Vol. 1 from 1997 and was released as a single in Europe only via Rhythm Records. To promote the compilation, this CD, featuring exclusive remixes the Bad Boy-esque Baby Blue Soundcrew, was released in Canada only. Along with Glen Lewis, this was a label that promoted great home-grown R&B and Hip Hop acts from the North but in the end resorted to dabbling with Billboard Hot 100 fluff south of the border. As for Bennett, she later turned her hand to acting and scored parts in Blues Brothers (1998), Woo (1998) and Honey (2002), among others. She also appeared as a dancer in Aaliyah's 2002 song "Rock The Boat." As for getting the break she deserved, she sadly never got beyond the supporting stage (her biggest song to date is probably Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth's 2004 single "It's A Love Thing" where she served as a featured vocalist) and these days appears to be content singing back-up for the likes of Justin Timberlake and Demi Lovato. A real shame her knock-out voice is wasted on these pop horrors but you can support her later independent endeavors here
 
More from BeatFactory here and here

LP Version (Radio Edit) 3:36 
Baby Blue Remix (Radio Edit) 3:32 featuring Kardinal Offishall
Baby Blue Ital Jubee MIx 5:34 featuring Furee, Motion, Michie Mee and Tara Chase. 
Baby Blue Remix (Extended) 4:20 featuring Kardinal Offishall
 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

S-ence: Free (CDM) (Brothers Organization, 1998)

Another well-known release in indie circuits and seemingly part of the street soul movement in the mid to late 90s. A duo, they had a few singles out in the late 90s and the above release appears to be the only CD release that they ever did. A cover of Denise Williams’ song of the same name (which has pretty much been covered by everyone), the original is straight up street soul while the R’n’B edit turns it into a seductive slow groove. Sadly most of their other singles – owing to them being monopolized by collectors with quite ridiculously deep pockets – are a bit beyond what I would ever pay for them. Many thanks again to Lewsic to his continued contributions. 
 
Free (Radio Edit)    3:27    
Free (Garage Edit)    3:57    
Free (R'n'B Edit)    4:04    
Free (Soul Mix)    3:58    
Groove Thing    4:31    

Noxy: Who Is Gonna Show Us (Base2Base Music, 2000)

More random European finds from Lewsic and a mixture of urban-lite, pop and 90s-esque garage house music with often spiritual and sociopolitical themes. There’s nothing to be found about the singer anywhere but she is possibly of South African descent. Vocally not the best but certainly better than this.  
 
All My Kisses 3:33 
One Night Stand (Radio Edit) 3:22 
A Chance 4:40 
Inside 2:15 
Take Me 5:03 
One Night Stand (Funky Mix) 4:07 
God 4:28 
Who Is Gonna Show Us 5:12 
Show Me 5:24 
Truly This Is Goodbye 3:27 
 
 

Ria: Fly Baby Fly (CDM) (Trinity Sounds Ltd., 2001)

Another random find from Lewsic and produced by Andy Whitmore. For me, Whitmore may have produced a few dance tracks on Dannii Minogue’s early albums but had actually done more urban-sounding stuff for such acts as Ultimate Kaos, MN8 and a few others. It’s slightly poppy but seems to be one of the unlikely ones that will end up making my Best of list for this year as it’s so incredibly catchy. See a further random find produced by Whitmore here

Fly Baby Fly (Radio Mix) 3:38
Fly Baby Fly (Club Mix) 8:27
Fly Baby Fly (Instrumental) 3:41 
 

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Glenda Leigh Lewis: A classic soul singer with a contemporary edge

Big bass lines juxtaposed with classic soul-sounding vocals, here are a few more phat R&B releases from out the UK that not many people know about. The singer is unknown but a few notable people appear in the credits including Lloydie Crucial and Orlando “Soul Town” Gittens. Both “Serve You Right” and “Innocent Child” were said to be taken from a movie that was forthcoming “Tuff Street” but it was either non-existent or just extremely underground. The label also called “Tuff Street” again is not widely known about but was distributed by Jet Star. They had one more notable artist in their repertoire, British MC Phoebe 1. Some great sounding late 90s UK R&B here but I have to laugh at the ‘tingling’ description on Discogs.
 
It's The Middle (Of The Night) (CDM) (Tuff Street, 1998) 
It's The Middle (Of The Night) [Street-Wise Club Mix Featuring Sneaze and Baby G.] 4:16 
It's The Middle (Of The Night) [Full Vocal Radio Mix] 3:25 
Wherever You Are (Full Vocal Mix) 4:29 
Wherever You Are (Da' Boom Mix Featuring Juxi-DeMUS) 3:46 
Wherever You Are (Garage Radio Mix) 4:13 
Wherever You Are (Rolling Bass-Line Dance-Mix Featuring JUXI-DeMUS) 4:17  
 
I'll Be Your Friend (EP) (Tuff Street, 1999) 
Serves You Right 3:41 
Serves You Right (Remix) 3:30 
I'll Be Your Friend 4:04 
Innocent Child 3:51 
Wherever You Are (Club Dance Mix) 5:39 
 

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Nu Vibe: Where Did We Go Wrong (CDM) (Slip N Slide Records, 199x)

From Opa Locka, FL, a very old skool R&B/soul group consisting of three brothers David, Christopher and Jeffrey Jones and their friends Carlton Williams and Charles Bell who had a similar “grown up” sound to many of the early 90s male soul harmony groups from the early 90s. They started out signed to Miami FL label Slip N Slide records, which in the early 2000s gained recognition for artists such as J-Shin and Trina, and were also signed to bass/freestyle label Vision Records. They haven't been documented much which is why I am posting them here but their other single "Stay Together" is on streaming from the label and is highly recommended listening for real R&B music lovers. 

Extended Version    4:02
Radio Mix    6:26
Vert Mix    5:56

Various: Sexy Lingerie (So Much, So Little) (LewLew Productions, 2004)

Despite the name and title, this is a very underground compilation of contemporary R&B, rhythm and blues and gorgeous modern soul tracks featuring mainly female artists. Produced by Rich Cason (a hidden but quite prolific player on the LA boogie/funk scene since the late 70s), notable features include California native Elyse Branch, Austin’s Kat Webb and many, many more. It is from 2004 but many of the recordings sound like they were from the 90s at the very least with the vast majority of them unmastered from seemingly original analog tape sources. For me, the highlight is most definitely Web's "How You Gonna Love Me", which is a gorgeous incarnation of late 80s boogie soul at its very best. The only male artist Just Love I know nothing about but the track is upbeat funky blues with a contemporary edge.

Sexy Lingerie    4:38    Just Love ft. Phenom
A Gift For You    3:56    Elyse Branch
Last Night    4:44    Elyse Branch
How You Gonna Love Me    4:37    Kat Webb
Don't Want A Partime Lover    3:17    Jackie McNeal
The Pleasure Is All Mine    4:36    Jackie McNeal
See The Rain    4:12    Jackie McNeal
Such A Silly Way    3:56    Jackie McNeal
I'll Make Love Easy For You    4:03    Jackie McNeal
Unmistakably You    3:54    Virginia 'Kim' Fowler
You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet    4:31    Kat Webb
Let's Treat Each Night Like Christmas Eve    4:28    Joyce Cronin
 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Molly M: Demo (EP) (2003)

Further unknown female R&B demo won by Stuaaart on eBay a month or so back. No clues as to who the artist is but from 2003, the style is up tempo urban crossover R&B with a prominent hook, in the same vein as Blaque and a few others. I don’t know for certain but I believe it was produced for Cuddy Entertainment, a label owned by music industry veteran Mark Cuddy. The music here is outstanding but sadly not professionally duplicated; having a slight boxy sound, it appears that all the tracks were possibly transferred to disc from MQ lossy sources back in the day. 
 
Kinda Guy 3:47 
If You Knew 4:19 
Knockin' 4:20 
Your Boyz Wish 4:06 
9x10 3:53

Monday, June 21, 2021

Raw Talent Presents: Where Dreams Become Reality (EP) (Self-Released, 200x)

From Miami, FL, another random find from a certain popular shopping site and a blend of mid-2000s Hip Hop and Contemporary R&B with Southern and Underground flavors. The tracks were said to be part of a forthcoming compilation but I can’t find any information about that either. I don’t know much about most of the artists featured but at one point Shauna (appearing here with “Missing You”) was signed to Miami label Slip-N-Slide Records and recorded a song with Trina “Don’t Ring My Phone”. She was signed to the label’s Reggae Imprint Slip-N-Slide Reggae but from what I can hear her sound was mostly contemporary R&B. Funnily enough, there was a label called Raw Talent which did specialize in Reggae and Socca music but as far as I am aware these two labels are unrelated. "Check Yourself" by Kola is also R&B and is uptempo with 'hustla' influences. I have no idea who she is but I am pretty certain it is not Kola Marion formally of Doggy's Angels.

Thug Mistress 3:53 Mr. JiTT feat. Ms. Janlce  
Missing You 2:47 Shauna  
Da Life I Lead 3:49 Majest  
Check Yourself 3:51 Kola  
I'm Out Here 4:02 Mr. JiTT 
Jailhouse Rock 4:58 Ms. Janlce  
DaShoShot 4:22 ill Flow feat. Mr. JiTT 
 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Sharon Lee Williams: Demo (EP) (Lenz Entertainment, 1996)

I have found a lot of great R&B and soul music from Canada over the years; Ora, Divine Earth Essence, Wade O. Brown and many others have more than convinced me that the Great White North was more than capable of competing with the US when it comes to great R&B and soul music. This particular vocalist has a pretty interesting backstory, to me at least. A child of the 80s, I had heard her biggest hit (with Sway) “Hands Up (Give Me Your Heart)” an innumerable amount of times. It was somewhat of a one hit wonder back then but owing to its upbeat Caribbean flavor would frequently be the song of choice for many parties through until at least the early 90s. Prior to Sway, she was also the lead vocalist for Canadian soul outfit Basic Black and Pearl and performed backing vocals for Marc Jordan, The Whiteley Brothers, Bruce Cockburn, Glass Tiger and even Alice Cooper. She released her own single “Your Place or Mine” on Virgin in 1989 but it wasn’t much of a hit. Sadly, outside of Sway, her most notable work to date has been providing the voices for characters on Jim Henson shows and as a vocal coach on Canadian Idol. The above recordings were made in 1996 and the disc – a TDK CD-R74BX – actually dates from around 1997 (outside of the music it contains, it is quite a scarce disc apparently.) Mainly a mixture of gorgeous 90s jazzy modern soul and sophisticated “grown-up” R&B, I am inclined to believe the 7-song set may have been recorded for film of television use but not entirely certain. The production company Lenz Entertainment was established as a company in 1997. Another fantastic find.

I'm Addicted    4:45   
Always And Forever    5:45   
Love Takes No Prisoners    5:09   
If You Could Only See Me    4:26   
Pain    4:17   
Can I Trust You    5:03   
Here I Am    5:11   

Monday, June 14, 2021

No Sweat: Dutch R&B Flava (Dutch Music Foundation, 1997)

 
My final foray into R&B music from The Netherlands comes with the No Sweat All-Stars, a Dutch R&B collective consisting of all unsigned artists. Released in conjunction with the Dutch Rock Music Foundation, the compilation was a starting point for many careers including that of the Dutch R&B trio Dignity (appearing here with “Talk to Me” and “Hold Me”), Chozen 4 Soul and Voices in Motion. Dignity later signed to Virgin and their self-released debut was released in the Benelux Union only; Voices in Motion also had a brief career with Polydor, releasing three singles between 1998-2000. Other familiar features include Corey (see previous post) and the much sought-after J.Anthony. Altogether two great compilations showcasing the best that The Netherlands - formally a country mostly known for its cheesy Euro dance exports - had to offer back then. Dignity, J.Anthony and Little Brown especially were fantastic.
 
Keep Your Head Up To The Sky    4:43    No Sweat All-Stars
It Sounds Natural    3:50    J.Anthony
Talk To Me    3:47    Dignity
Till Da Early Morn    4:00    Joshua
Get Of My Back    3:10    Eszteca
Day And Night    4:19    Corey
Loving You    3:54    Voices In Motion
Play    4:24    Little Brown
Can't Live Without You    3:35    Chosen 4 Soul
Hold Me    4:07    Dignity
Another Girl    3:39    J.Anthony
Cruz Over Here    3:37    3rd Millenium
Hold You Tight    3:47    Chosen 4 Soul
Move Around    3:39    Voices In Motion
Down With You    3:42    Solid
All Da Way    4:12    Joshua
Give In    4:53    Eszteca  

Skillz Records Presents: New York • Amsterdam (Skillz Records, 199x)

Further music out of The Netherlands with the above US-themed project featuring many fantastic R&B and Hip Hop artists, some of whom later went on to have moderately successful careers in Europe (Sat-R-Day, Re-Play) and others which have remained popular among collectors only (Corey, Shameka.) Re-Play had a career going back to 1997 on Dutch label Rhythm Records where they recorded songs mainly in their native language but it seems at one point the label Skillz may have had distribution through Rhythm as a later release of theirs by the short-lived Dutch R&B group Natural Impact also had distribution through them (posted here.) Natural Impact does not feature on this particular set and neither does a further artist from those days J. Anthony but it did spawn a few good singles namely the very phat and euphonic “Everything But Love” by Corey (featuring Sadat X) and “Reasons Why” by Shameka (prod. by Dutch talkboxer Werner Kanhai.) All seemed to have garnered releases in the US where assimilation for most of them came pretty naturally. Corey especially had a wealth of experience under her belt at the time including appearances on National TV, as a supporting act for Adina Howard and even took her talents to New York where she survived the stage at The Apollo. She is also featured on  a few other similar compilations released around the same time and finally released her first album in 2006.
 
Try Love    3:22    Shameka
Everything But Love    3:14    Corey feat. Sadat X
Stop Messing With My Mind    4:55    Re-Play feat. Evil Son a.k.a Sonny Diablo
Make It Happen    4:14    M.O.D.
The After Party    3:59    Phatclip
Flight 704    3:13    Shadows In The Dark
All This Love    4:43    Sat-R-Day
Reasons Why    4:33    Shameka
Sick    4:59    M.O.D.
Glitter    4:52    One Step Beyond

Monday, June 7, 2021

Mo'dest: Modest Girl (CDM) (Phat Butt Wrecka's/BMG, 1998)

Only single by Mo’dest (Monique Loswijk?), an American/Dutch artist who was signed to the indie label Phat Butt Wrecka’s between 1997-1998. The label has been known for quite a few rarities (D-Cypha, 2-Nice) but I won’t be featuring them here, instead choosing to focus on the one quality female artist that nobody else has posted yet. The label’s most well-known release is probably “I Need Your Love” by Triple D and Channo ONE on which the above artist’s vocals can be heard in the R&B mix. “Modest Girl” and a further track by her “Confused” can be heard on a rare promo vinyl credited to Organized Groove (later Glaze.) Written by Chris Gerald (formally in Cella Dwellas?), more quality R&B from the Netherlands that nobody really knows about. The B-side track “Play With Me” is especially smooth. 
 
Modest Girl (Radio Edit)    3:34
Modest Girl (X-Tended Mix)    4:52
Modest Girl (Dance Hall Remix)    3:45
Modest Girl (Big 'N' Nasteez Remix)    4:32
Modest Girl (Funky Paradise Mix)    3:21
Modest Girl (X-Tra Acapella Mix)    3:28
Play With Me (Late Night Album Version)    3:59
 

Shanique: Spend Da Night (CDM) (BMG, 2000)

Since the mid-90s, the Netherlands has been another place known for making great R&B music. Fueled by the popularity of producers such as Soulshock & Karlin and later Cutfather & Joe, they had some great artists and bands throughout the 90s and going into the new millennium. I am not going to lie; I do find listening to music by non-native English speakers to be a little hard but a lot of these artists and groups had little to no accents at all. Basically, these artists could hold their own against any of the popular American or British acts at the time. Unfortunately, very few of them have been heard outside of Europe. Produced and managed by Cooly D, Shanique (real name Angelique Koorndijk) began her career in the late 80s on a Dutch TV talent show which also brought notoriety to Dignity’s Edsilia Rombley. In 1999 Koorndijk released two singles as “Shanique.” Both were produced by Dutch hip hop producer Cooly D and were one of a few of the more pop-orientated compositions that the producer did in the mid to late 90s. Neither were very successful despite sounding as phat and radio-friendly as work by fellow Dutch R&B artists at the time. In 2006, she was back on the TV, making it to the semi-finals of the Dutch version of Pop Idol.
 
Spend Da Night (Radio Mix)    4:08    
Spend Da Night (Bounce Mix)    4:14    
Spend Da Night (Jeep Mix)    3:49    

Saturday, May 29, 2021

J. Red The Nephew: Flooded with Soul (Soul Mop Entertainment, 2001)

The above compilation is actually something I have wanted for a while now, after Napo found an earlier single by J. Red (then going by the name “Red”) while searching through the crates in and around Virginia Beach. Originally from Atlanta, J. Red (real name Jesse Redmond) spent time at Master Sound Studios in Virginia Beach and in Hamilton, NC where he recorded the above compilation. He was originally part of the underground male R&B/New Jack Swing trio Average Guyz in the 90s and released an album “First Come First Served” in 1996. This was when he formed his production company Soul Mop Entertainment LLC which did most of the production. Then going by the name of Mr. Red, Redmond’s talents are again demonstrated on the above compilation which he produced and wrote mostly by himself. Employing the same mind-blowing Jodeci-esque harmonies from his time spent with Average Guyz over some pretty smooth production – from classic baby-making jams to early 2000s bump-N-grind – this compilation is very pleasing to listen to. 
 
My Men And My Woman (Keya Smith Feat. Josh) 4:28 
Confrontation (Mr. Red) 3:38 
That´s How It Goes (Sherrie) 4:20 
To Say I Love You (Mr. Red) 4:08 
Misunderstanding (Keya Smith) 4:21 
What You Like (Emerald Al) 4:10 
Let Me Know (Mr. Red) 5:27 
God Forgiven (Keya Smith) 5:00 
My Wisdom (Mr. Red) 4:17 
You Don´t Know (Keya Smith) 3:37 
Diggin You (Mr. Red) 3:54 
Rock The Sheets (Mr. Red) 4:03 
I Seen It All (Emerald Al) 3:14 
Roll With Me (Mr. Red) 8:32 
 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

More indepednent urban music from Nottingham

 
Further urban music with Raw Talent, a Nottingham-based collective that has been in development since 1999. As per their website, their aim was to “write for, produce, and develop artists”, “putting them on the right road for music deals.” They had some good intentions – their “Stop The Violence” message spearheaded a national campaign and caught the attention of many notable UK artists back then – but the music here is sadly somewhat unmemorable. There are a few half-decent R&B tracks in among the overabundance here of noise, mostly of the grime genre. The collective’s biggest success seems to be their “Stop The Violence” CD which reached no52 on the National Urban Charts. Notable members include Lee Wolfe and Denzie, the latter of which gained some notoriety on the UK Garage scene with his 2000 single “Sorry (I Didn’t Know)”. 
 
 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

XxPression Compilation CD Volume 1 (XxPression Entertainments/Ace of Jacks Records, 2006)

“At the heart of unsigned talent in the UK”, here is another unique find from Lewsic with a few redeeming R&B/soul tracks that you won’t find anywhere else. The hip hop is typical mid-2000s sample-heavy stuff while the stuff with more crossover appeal is a mixture of neo soul and contemporary R&B with jazzy vocals. There’s no information about any of the artists featured but the label Ace of Jacks Records appears to still be active and is an Entertainment and Media company based out of London. 
 
Intro "CD Sampler"    1:04    Various Artists
Ghet-To Know    3:16    Rapid
Advanced    3:03    Luca
The Champions 2005    2:31    Phoenix Black
The Senses    3:26    Luca Feat. Jimi Whispers & Rapid
Sekkle Down    3:51    Keezaman
Triz Biz    3:50    Full Triz
On Da Telly    3:05    Rapid
Shades Of Love    3:51    Tobi
Intermission "Contact Details"    0:41    Various Artists
The Pain    3:49    Imagery Feat. Intrigue
Black Featherz (Remix)    3:12    Luca Feat. Ace Of Jacks
Nightmare    3:51    Amman
Ideal World    3:08    A.M.M.O
Raindrops    3:36    Geebag
Take Your Time    3:29    Nita
Sweetalker    3:51    Amman Feat. Luca
Come Together (RMX)    2:29    Phoenix Black
Toolz On Road (RMX)    4:08    Rapid
Let You Know    3:35    Shanique
Summertime Loving    4:05    JP Feat. Sherona Knight
Outro "Accreditation"    0:53    Various Artists
 

London I Showcase 1: Like It, Love It, Live It (London I Records, 2004)

From London, the first of two rather hip hop heavy compilations with a few redeeming R&B/soul tracks that you won’t find anywhere else. This particular one is a little too heavy on the ragga for me; the label London I or London Individuals was mostly a reggae and dancehall label and a vast majority of their catalog was on 7” vinyl only but there is a gem in the female singer Lee-Anne who is fantastic at singing both reggae and contemporary R&B. “It’s Alright” has since gone on to become one of my absolute favorites. 
 
Disc 1
Intro    0:14    C.o.L.I.n
Think You're Gonna Get Away    3:22    C.o.L.I.n, Lee-Anne, Kastro, Callybud
Hot Lava    3:36    C.o.L.I.n, Kastro
Pretty Dangerous/Bad Girls Anthem    3:35    C.o.L.I.n, Callybud
Get Out    3:40    C.o.L.I.n, Lee-Anne
Pum Pum Town    4:06    C.o.L.I.n, Kastro, Callybud, Javier el Canario
Cha, Gonna Get You Girl    4:32    C.o.L.I.n, Kastro, Callybud
Disco Bud/Tonight    4:45    C.o.L.I.n, Callybud, Kastro
Get Down Tonight/Shake Your Booty    4:00    C.o.L.I.n, Lee-Anne
Like That    3:21    Kastro
Life    3:43    Callybud
L.I. Here We Go    4:06    Lee-Anne, Callybud
Secure My Love    5:05    Lee-Anne
 

Disc 2
It's Alright 4:07 Lee-Anne
We're Here For Them Things 3:21 C.o.L.I.N, Kastro
What Is It About 3:19 Callybud
This Is How My Crew Roll 4:12 C.o.L.I.N, Kastro, Lee-Anne
L.I. Is Keeping It Real 3:57 Lee-Anne, Nadine
Wont It 3:32 C.o.L.I.N, Callybud
Carry On (Rendition of Kunta Kinte) 6:26 C.o.L.I.N, Lee-Anne, Callybud
Look Into My Eyes 3:54 Lee-Anne, Callybud
It's That Time Again 4:33 C.o.L.I.N, Kastro
You Are The Sunshine In My Life 3:27 Lee-Anne, Callybud
Still Falling For You 4:38 Lee-Anne, Castro
Comes Back Around To You 4:29 Lee-Anne

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Urban Street Anthems Volumes 1 & 2

Hailed as a collection of “mighty tunes fresh out of the hottest U.S. recording studios and production houses”, “Urban Street Anthems 1” was to be the forefront in breaking new R&B talent to the world. Sort of like an underground version of the “Street Beats” series, it featured many artists that you won’t find anywhere else. Only one volume was ever officially released and was compiled by Nigerian-born singer/songwriter Dee Majek and Morgan Khan, founder of Streetwave Records which brought U.S. street sounds to the UK high street in the 80s. A second volume was under development which seemingly never got beyond the promo stage and featured many of the same and similar artists. I don’t know if Khan had anything to do with this but it did feature input from Majek. Compiled for MAPP Records, some of the tracks later appeared on MAPP’s “Six for Spins” and “Hot On the Heels” series, a rather similar concept to Khan’s own “Street Sounds” series before. Notable features include R&B trio Metropolis, Lafayette Reed, Divine Earth Essence, Wade O. Brown and many, many more...
 

Monday, May 17, 2021

More unknown indie R&B from out the UK

From the late 90s to the early 2000s, further unknown female R&B on vinyl that I know very little about. Though the singer doesn’t come up anywhere, “Pack N Go” appears to be produced by Wayne Marshall who released a couple of albums on Soul Town Records in the mid-90s while the second track “Guys Guys Guys” is seemingly a reply to Jay-Z’s 2001 song “Girls Girls Girls and was produced by Just Blaze. Morita’s “You” is also obscure though the label, predominantly a reggae and dancehall label, released a further artist Nathan (later Starboy Nathan) in the mid-2000s. A familiar name pops up as the mixer: Wayne Lawes of Full Crew. The final track “Give It To You” by MK is probably the most obscure of all with just a Vodafone number on the label. Only one (Dee Dee Morrison) has a release date of 1999. The others have a similar late 90s/early 2000s sound but Cellie – owing to the sample used – probably dates from around 2001.

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