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, April 26, 2021

Unreleased Ne-Yo as “Shaffer”

Prior to the release of his first album, Ne-Yo (then going by his birth name of “Shaffer” or “Shaffer Smith”) was an unknown artist signed to Columbia Records. This was way back in 2001 before he even gained prominence as a songwriter. The song that got him noticed was “That Girl” by Marques Houston and was originally meant to be his own first single. Sadly Smith’s own version and his completed album for Columbia was never to see the light of day but his breakthrough came when he wrote “Let Me Love You” for Mario in 2004. This led to him being signed to Def Jam and to him being everywhere in the mid-to-late-2000s. A few of his early tracks can be found on a few quite rare promotional CDs, including the above Destiny’s Child CD which was given away for free with select pairs of Levi’s “Superlow” jeans. With more of a neo-soul sound, this early work is a little more mature than his later endeavors with producers such as StarGate and Neff-U. Sadly at the time of his signing to Columbia, they were going through a state of “chaos” which saw him working with a vast number of different A&R reps. None of them knew what to do with him so he asked to be released from his contract and his then-finished album was shelved. Also of note on this EP, a more kid-friendly version of Destiny’s Child’s 2001 hit “Jumpin’ Jumpin’”. Yes, apparently the original version was not suitable for Disney Radio yet “All Star” by Smash Mouth was? Regardless this version features newly recorded vocals by Beyoncé, Kelly and Solange, who I am guessing was a last minute addition to the lineup after LaTavia and LaToya left in quite a hurry. Not one of my absolute favorite songs by them by any stretch of the imagination but very interesting to hear this different arrangement. 

Survivor (Azza'z Soul Remix)    5:06    (Destiny's Child)
So Good (Maurice's Soul Remix)    7:36    (Destiny's Child)
Jumpin', Jumpin' ft. Solange    3:40    (Destiny's Child)
La Di Dah    4:02    (Shaffer)

Unreleased Roc-A-Fella and Def Soul artists

Jay-Z and Dame Dash’s label Roc-A-Fella was another label that let many amazing artists slip through the cracks in the early to mid-2000s. The fantastic Denim, Nicole Wray…even Tiarra Mari, the label’s eventual “First Lady” was little more than a flash in the pan. Here are two other acts that also didn’t make it: Rell and Allen Anthony (formally of the R&B duo Christión.) Rell was active all throughout the late 90s and early 2000s yet his album “The Remedy” never saw the light of day. Anthony also fell by the wayside despite his moderate success with his brother as R&B duo Christión in the 90s. His album “Oakland International” also went unreleased. Granted not many R&B acts on hip hop labels (aside from the mains such as Bad Boy, So So Def etc.) ever fared that well this was Jay-Z we are talking about. He had backing from Def Jam and had access to some of the best producers. Also passed on by way of Def Soul was the fantastic Kandice Love, who, along with the label’s token R&B group LovHer (also featured on the above set), was one of a few acts backed by former Dru Hill member Sisqo in the early 2000s that simply didn’t make it. I don’t know if he had anything to do these particular instances but it certainly didn’t help that his then forthcoming album and Dru Hill’s much hyped reunion album both bombed in the charts. Def Soul – despite the emphasis on “Soul” - wasn’t really the place to be in the early 2000s... 

Say It Ain't So    3:57    (Rell)
If That's My Baby    4:03    (Rell)
Bring It Home    4:35    (Rell)
Never Knew A Love    4:51    (Rell)
Love For Free    3:49    (Rell)
Ain't Nobody Playing     4:20    (Jaguar)
So Hot      4:43    (Rashaan Patterson)
Round & Round     4:12    (Jonell)
How It's Gonna Be     3:47    (LovHer)
All U Need     4:00    (Kandice Love)
Lady Baby     5:00    (Allen Anthony)

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Lenard Davis: Do Your Thing (E-Nitra Fuse Records, 199x)

Though quite water damaged, this is another great find from Napo that I thoroughly enjoyed. This guy came from York, Pennsylvania and his music is a blend of modern soul, funk and contemporary R&B with classic-sounding 70s vocals. As with Lutrell and Flyn Pickens, this is another one strictly for the grown folks but "She So Fine" is a great slice of 90s R&B flava complete with cow bells. Many thanks once again to Napo for his continued support of our blog and channel.

Do Your Thing    3:07
How Could It Be    3:35
Love Miscued    5:11
Our First Time    4:39
She So Fine    3:39
Your Are The One    4:40
While You Were Sleeping    4:13
Drop The Beat    3:45
Pimp-Em    3:26
Leave Or Stay    4:23
Love Jam    4:17

Sunday, April 18, 2021

LMH (Ladies Making History): S/T (Mini-LP) (Self-Released, 2006)

Another obscure trio out of the greater Chicago area whose mini LP appears to be produced almost entirely off the backs of their parents. Though some of the tracks do have that minimal “CD Baby” sound about them, there are a few good mid-tempo cuts here notably “The Weekend” and “Summertime.” Here they seem to shine the best though they could’ve probably pulled off a similar Crunk’n’B style to Cherish.  

Ladies Making History (Intro) 0:30
Dance Floor Featuring Tone 3:55
The Weekend Featuring Tone 3:53
Summertime 4:39
Wait On You 4:03
Kinda Good 3:45
Don't Take It Personal Featuring Sy 3:38
Dance Floor - Darryl B Rider Mix 4:02
The Weekend - Curtiss Beard Smooth Mix 3:51
Dance Floor - Radio R & B Edit 3:28
Dance Floor - Laronzo Till The AM Mix 4:30

Trace: You'll Never Change (Old Dog New Tricks) (CDS) (Nivel Records, 2000)

A quite obscure R&B trio from Gulf Breeze, Florida, a place more known for its UFOs than great R&B music. Complete with a rap breakdown, it’s an engaging throw back to the turn of the millennium when ‘empowerment’ anthems like “No Scrubs” and “Bills, Bills, Bills” ruled the airwaves. The label Nivel Records was mostly a soul label known for soul/jazz singer Ruby Baker and this seems to be the only contemporary thing that they did. I know nothing about the group but the song was produced and written by Martin Blockson (Modest Fōk, Five Xi, B.B.O.T.I.)

You'll Never Change (Old Dog New Tricks)  (Radio Edit)  4:24
You'll Never Change (Old Dog New Tricks)    4:26

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Innersoul Records Presents: Super Sampler Vol. 1 (Promo) (Innersoul Records/OneDisc Distribution, 2004)

More great unreleased music from Innersoul Records who were mostly known for the former LaFace quintet Az Yet. The group originally planned to release their follow-up on the DreamWorks label but they left after only one single "My Fix" in 2003. By this time, they had become quartet and gained a new member LeDon Bishop. In 2004, they signed to Innersoul Records, one of the early purveyors of the OneDiscTM/DVD Plus(C) format. For those who didn't know this was a dual disc format combining the best of CDs, CD-ROMs and DVDs all on one disc, an ultimate "multimedia" experience. Sadly neither the format nor any of the artists were ever to take off. Az Yet released 1 EP "That Be U" in 2004 and then their album "The Return" was shelved. By that time original member Darryl Anthony had basically assembled a new group from scratch bringing aboard two new members to join him for the project. A further EP "Chocolate City" by Ter'ell Shahid was released also in 2004 on the OneDisc format. The fantastic Angie Fisher, who hails from Pasadena, CA, was seemingly left behind. Again, very much a shame but the failure of this label was no doubt due to the niche way that they marketed their stuff. Just take a look at the hideously ugly cases

That B U    4:14 (Az Yet)
Another Place To Sleep    3:07 (Angie Fisher)
2 Hours After Midnight    3:53 (Ter'ell Shahid)
Same Amazing You    4:21 (Az Yet)
Butterflies    6:04 (Ter'ell Shahid)
Flavorhood    4:39 (Tere'' Shahid w/ Angie Fisher)
Let's Get Naked    3:10 (Az Yet but credited to LeDon Bishop)
Swing With Me    3:06 (Angie Fisher)

Quadeer: I Believe In U (EP) (Tobe Rich Music Group, 1997)

I very rarely post hip hop on my blog but sometimes I will make exceptions for certain stuff if there is at least a few songs with original vocal hooks in them, such as with this guy from VA Beach. If there's one thing Napo has shown us, is that there is a ton of great music to be found here. Not much is known about the artist but some of the tracks are produced by the same guy behind this amazing group here. Their album long having been a "collector's" item, we were very lucky when Napo found a whole stack of them while digging through the crates in his area back in 2019. Comparing the production on both, this hip hop EP has a very similar smooth, quiet storm sound. One of the members "Peaches" even provides the hook to the title track which definitely gives me "Take A Dipp" vibes. Altogether a very good find as what R&B fan doesn't like a bit of G-Funk. Tracks 4-9 (in snippet form) said to be taken from the artist's album "I, Q" which may or may not have been released. Many thanks again to Stuaaart for finding the actual CD at last :-)

Album Version    5:02 (featuring Peaches of Ebonae')
Instrumental    5:09
A Capella    4:44
It's On U [Snippet]    1:36
Downtown [Snippet]    1:33
It Ain't All Good [Snippet]    1:40
Yearnin' [Snippet]    1:15 (featuring So Intense)
One True Love [Snippet]    1:27
We Fam [Snippet]    1:03

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Corte': Independent Woman (CDM) (Under Pressure Entertainment LLC, 1999)

Smooth cut from Corte' who has since gained minor prominence as a songwriter (as Corte "The Author" Ellis). In the mid-2000s, he penned many tracks for notable artists such as Beyonce, Monica ("A Dozen Roses"), Fantasia and even Britney Spears, but originally he started out as an independent artist in the late 90s. We posted a 12" by a further artist on this label Achewood (Benjamin) back in 2017. I don't know anything about the label but it was based out of Virginia Beach, VA.

Independent Woman [Radio Edit]    3:48
Independent Woman [Remix]    4:09
Independent Woman [Radio Edit Instrumental]    3:56
Independent Woman [Remix Instrumental]    4:07

Friday, April 9, 2021

Slept On Soul Stars: Cherokee's Soul Parade

Originally part of a duo Auto & Cherokee in the early 90s, Cherokee Pougue emerged as a solo artist in the late 90s with her debut LP "I Love You...Me". Though neo-soul was in its infancy at the time, the album was a success and she later went on to appear on Soul Train, Motown Live and soon her face was seen adorning Billboards all over her native Brookyln. Her highly anticipated follow-up "Soul Parade" saw her working with many industry heavyweights not limited to Outkast, Bilal and the great Jill Scott but sadly it was to never see the light of day outside of limited promotional copies. As it seems, RCA closed yet another division leaving Pougue without a label. She later took it to Antonio "LA" Reid  - then head of Arista Records - but even he couldn't get this album released. Ultimately it was left up to the usual slew of European so-called "collectors" to stick the final boot in and in the late 2010s bootlegged CDr copies have started appearing online starting at $178. I don't know if the artist intended for her work to end up on eBay - she sold CDrs she produced herself through Facebook - but it's nice to know that the so-called "collector" probably made more off it than what she did. Regardless, the above CDr of Stuaaart's is a legit pressing direct from the RCA Record label, one of a few that actually exist.

Remember, real OG's always buy legit physical media.

Runaway    4:04
Lips ft. Anthony Hamilton    3:57
Woman Knows ft. Bilal & Jill Scott    5:10
I Swear    6:12
Nectarine ft. Andre 3000    3:59
Star ft. Floetry    4:21
Nothing Really Feels The Same    4:40
Crazy ft. Rashan Patterson    5:16
Daddy How?    3:38
Where ft. Jill Scott    4:02
One    1:46
Can't Let It Go    4:23

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Slept On Soul Stars: Lina and "Save Your Soul"

After a brief start as a songwriter in the late 90s, Lina (real name Shelina R. Wade) released her debut single "Playa No Mo" at the turn of the millennium. During that time the R&B genre seemed to be split into 3 categories: urban-crossover, hip-hop soul and neo-soul with Lina being one of the few unsung participants of the latter category. Her debut album "Stranger On Earth" was critically applauded for its unique fusion of R&B, swing and vocal jazz music but it was pretty much slept on. Following this Wade was released from her contract with Atlantic - a label not entirely versed in R&B outside of Brandy Norwood - and went onto sign with Hidden Beach Recordings, best known for their success with Jill Scott in the early 2000s. She launched her own label Mood Star Recordings and released the above compilation "Save Your Soul" in 2005 which featured many songs written by her across many