Yolanda "La La" Brown & iCandi

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

Kandi and Tiny

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

Keyshia Cole

The way it wasn't.

MQ3

Another shelved R'n'B group from 1997

From Tha'Rayne To The First Seed

Unreleased Yummy Bingham from 2006.

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