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".

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, 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