Christynette

The UK's First Lady of Urban Soul.

Ne-Yo

Unreleased from 2001, Ne-Yo as "Shaffer".

Mya's Liberation

Mya's doomed fourth album.

Girl Power!

Unreleased R'n'B/UK Garage from 2001.

Local Virginia R'n'B on Demo Tape!

From collector's favorites to new unheard of heat, there is no shortage of great music to be found in Virginia.

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.

Listen to more of Lewsic's great finds here:

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Ladies First: Album Demos (Promo) (Polydor, 200x)

When Mis-Teeq were at the top of their game in the early 2000s, it didn’t take long for other similar female groups to surface in the UK. One notable one was the Ceri Evans-backed Ladies First who were mostly known for their single “Messin’” which made little impact on the charts in 2001. For anybody who doesn’t know, Evans is probably better known by his stage name of Sunship and was known for his catchy 2-Step tunes back in the day. “Flowers” by Sweet Female Attitude and Mis-Teeq’s “All I Want” were both top 5 hits in the early 2000s and then there was the myriad of remixes he did for well-known artists such as Gabrielle, Mary J Blige, Christina Aguilera and others back then. Comprised of 3 classy ladies: former BBC Wales DJ Leanne (aka DJ Precious) Mel and Sasha, Leanne apparently left Ladies First before the release of “Messin’”, their first mainstream single, and things just went downhill from there. The two remaining members continued as a duo for a brief time, releasing the Nu-Shooz cover “I Can’t Wait”, but they were gone completely by 2003. It was probably just as well as UK Garage was shortly to evolve into something a lot grittier and darker with the popularity of groups and artists such as So Solid Crew, Ms. Dynamite and others. There was simply no place for the fun pop stuff anymore. As for Ladies First, they had a great 2Step/urban-pop sound which if they were able to capitalize on properly back in 2001, I am sure would’ve worked out for them. The Sunship-produced “Kiss The Sunshine” in particular was another catchy garage tune like “Flowers” but didn’t get the proper promotion back when it was released. Sadly by the time “I Can’t Wait” hit the charts, I think it was just too late for them – even if Leanne had stayed with the group – as the music industry tends to move on pretty quickly. Many thanks again to Lewsic for picking up this much sought-after gem!
 
Both "Messin'" and "I Can't Wait" do not appear. 
 
Ladies First    3:48
Kiss The Sunshine    5:34
Kiss The Sunshine (Vocal)    5:30
Kiss The Sunshine (Dub)    5:53
Last Chance    3:31
Watching You Tonight    3:57
No More Tears    3:56
No More Tears (Remix Idea)    3:32
Switched Off    2:58
Your Love    5:39
Vibe    3:26
Gucci Galore    3:27
Independent    4:49
It's Too Late    3:46
 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Phoenix: I Wanna Know (CDM) (Global i Entertainment, 1999)

 
The last and final artist to be posted from Bury, Greater Manchester label Global i Records and a feisty mix of raga and contemporary R&B music. Featuring label mate JR on backing vocals, the original version appeared on one of the rarer Streets Beats Volumes from Series 2 (Vol. 11) and despite not being the hugest fan of raga I found I actually quite enjoyed this tune. The title of the track is actually “Good Love” but for some reason has been changed to “I Wanna Know” on the CD release the following year. The main remix is on the brink of being quite a decent R&B track while the b-side track “Who Do You Love” features Fyza Salah on vocals. Seemingly the last and final thing from this label which was active between 1998-2000. Many thanks again to my UK contributor Lewsic who owns and brought an original copy.
 
I Wanna Know (Album Version) 3:54 
I Wanna Know (Version II Remix) 3:53 
I Wanna Know (Garage Remix) 5:33 
Who Do You Love (Feat. Fyza) 3:46 
 

JR: Up On Your Love (Mini-LP) (Global i Entertainment, 1998)

Touted as one of the most ‘erotic artists to come from Manchester, England in the last decade’, JR was another artist signed to UK Midland’s-based label Global I Entertainment in the late 90s that had a fantastic sound. Like a mix of TLC type swagger with the sex appeal and sophistication of fellow Mancunian Lisa Stansfield, she released the above set in 1998. It spawned one single “Lay With Me” which was released in 1999. Along with Fyza’s track, it also made an appearance on one of the rarer Street Beats volumes from Series 2 (Vol. 11). While Fyza’s album was a double CD set complete with a 14-page booklet, it seemed the label didn’t push the boat out that much on this particular vocalist. The above set is 7 tracks in length and the artwork – aside from the short but sweet write up on her – is as unimpressive as they come with no pictures or hints as to who she is. You really know a label is skimping when you get an album in a slim jewel case usually meant for singles but perhaps it was just a matter of cost. Regardless, if you enjoyed Fyza’s album then you will most definitely enjoy this very sexy escapade from the heart and soul of Manchester. Many thanks again to my UK contributor Lewsic who owns and brought an original copy.
 
Up On Your Love 4:31 
Over You 3:14 
Choose Me 3:19 
Lay With Me 4:21 
Angel 3:20 
Soul Food 4:13 
Love Thing 4:16 
 

Fyza: S/T (Global i Entertainment, 2000)

More fantastic independent R&B from the UK with Fyza, who had been releasing music since in the early 90s. From the UK Midlands, she was one of the featured artists on Manchester’s Go Blue comp (with “Poetical Love”) and also made a couple of appearances on Street Beats Series 2 and 3 with her 1999 single “Madd Cool.” Her album is something I have actually been sitting on for a few years now while we found the other artists from her label Global i Entertainment who along with Bristol-based Black Story Records released some quality R&B music from the UK North in the late 90s and early 2000s. Up until then, a lot of the stuff we found was from London or the surrounding area. A double album, there is barely one skippable track here from Fyza, who was formally a vocalist in soul, R&B and hip hop groups in the US before returning to the UK in 1994. Not as carnal as her label mate JR who was a little heavy with the sex appeal but very sensual with a delicate, melodic vocal and the production sophisticated and on some tracks quite ornate. It’s definitely one of those albums that is quite pleasing to the ear. Stuart actually acquired it back in 2015 back when we were buying and posting stuff we had seen from other collectors. We have since become a lot more exclusive though good music still remains to be good music. 
 
Disc 1
Who Is Fyza (Intro) 1:55
Madd Cool V.II 4:20
Cry 3:27
Falling (Intro) 1:08
Falling ft. J.R. 3:36
Come Too Soon (Interlude) 1:38
Ain't No Love 3:29
Back In The Day ft. Shiesty The Gypsy 4:20
Why Like I Do 4:15
She ft. Black Ice 3:55
I Swear 3:45
Genuine 4:00
Ready ft. D'Freak (Bonus Track) 5:18


Disc 2
Feel So Real 3:26
Friend 3:25
Who Ya Gonna Run To 3:53
Silly Me, Silly You 0:59
24/7 3:41
Tell Me Why 4:30
Watching You. Watching Me 4:21
Show Me Your Love 0:40
Don't Let Me Down 5:26
Heaven 3:47
All My Love 3:52
My Thang 1:21
Madd Cool 3:44

Monday, May 3, 2021

Tonia Woods: Fruition (Double-O Productions, 1999)

Another Obscure find from Napo in and around the Virginia Beach area. Woods is a modern soul/jazz artist based out of DC and her  2001 album All That Glitters has been compared to work by Regina Belle, Anita Baker and others. Featuring a live backing band on some tracks, the album is mainly a mixture of folksy soul and pop blues with a slight rocky edge but the "If I Only Had One Wish" and the cover of "Make Me Love Somebody Else" are great R&B tracks.

Without Your Love 4:33
Disappear 3:59
If I Only Had One Wish 3:30
Learn To Forgive 3:40
Runaway 4:37
Lazy Daze 3:39
Goes Around 3:45
The Question 4:14
At This Time 3:30
On My Way 3:34
Wished You Were Here 3:46
Make Me Love Somebody Else 3:55
Make Me Love Somebody Else (Rap Version) 3:55
 

Average Guyz; First Come First Served (Uncut Records, 1995)

Along with 911’s album “The Pressure”, the Average Guyz’ First Come First Served was one of a handful of rare indie R&B albums which got a new lease of life via Japanese label P-Vine Records in the late 2010s. Nothing but O.G. stuff here though; this is an original copy from Uncut Records (1995) and once again uncovered by Napo while digging through the crates in and around Virginia Beach back in 2018. Featuring contributions from a pre-Neptunes Chad Hugo (track 7 “Ride”) and Missy Elliott (as Misdemeanor from “Sister”), the album is a great combination of new jack sing, jeep beats and sexy slow jams with a Jodeci-type swagger. Most of the production comes from Jesse Redmond and his production company Soul Mop Productions which is still releasing music to this day. The name might sound familiar as Napo found one of Redmond’s solo releases back in 2018. Now going by the name of J-Red the Nephew, he originally hailed from Atlanta but spent most of his time at Master Sound Studio in Virginia Beach recording music. People in Japan can find First Come First Served on iTunes but it is yet to be available to people in the U.S. for less than $30 on import. O.G. copies are currently fetching upwards of $300.
 
Anthem 2:07 
Gimme (Intro Big Freeze) 5:06 
Get Inside 4:33 
You're In Need 4:53 
So Far Away 4:46 
Put Me On 3:55 
Ride 5:51 
You Got It 3:42 
Interlude For Always 1:00 
It Won't Be The Same 4:54 
So Good 4:01 
I Never Knew 5:24 
The Little Things 5:13 
You Don't Have To Go 3:40 
Always 4:45