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.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Keyshia Cole & Damon Elliott: The Way It Wasn't

I don’t think anybody can come close to equaling the passion and grit of Mary J. Blige in her early years but out of all of the new contenders to come on the scene in the 2000s, Oakland girl Keyshia Cole came pretty close with her saturnine tales of life’s hardships, deadbeat men, betrayal and heartbreak. Somebody that was instrumental in her earlier career – although seldom ever mentioned – was Dionne Warrick’s son, music producer Damon Elliott. He was the one who discovered her in 2003, signed her to his imprint and helped get her major label distribution for her debut album “The Way It Is”. Sadly, by the time the album hit the shelves, his role had been all but erased, snuffed out due to label politics and temper tantrums. Only two songs of Elliott’s “Love” and “Down N Dirty” (both of which he co-produced with Greg Curtis) ever remained on the disc and to make things even worse his role was reduced to little more than an afterthought. Instead it was Ron Fair that discovered her, he that mentored her… Though I thoroughly enjoyed “The Way It Is” for its fearless emotion that seemed to defy her age at the time, some of these early tracks with Elliott are splendidly roughneck. Tracks such as “Snatch Yo Wave Out” and “Dumb Sh..” probably couldn’t be pulled off by just anybody but her while “Streets Is A Motha” tells of the harsh reality of her tough upbringing. I found the song in its entirety on You Tube back in 2013 where it falsely said it was taken from her 2004 mixtape “Team Invasion Presents: Keyshia Cole”. Another track “Get Up” went on to appear on the Biker Boyz soundtrack while “Love”, “Down N Dirty” and “You’ve Changed” later made the cut to her eventual album with “Love” going onto become her first platinum single. “You’ve Changed” is in its demo form here; the production is essentially the same but it’s more stripped down, in a slightly different key and has a slightly different vocal take. A further unreleased track “Talk To Me” appears to feature Mya on backing vocals. Seeing as Elliott was also working with her at the time on her third album “Moodring”, it is not entirely beyond the realm of possibility that she did backing vocals for him. She may have also co-written it as she also co-wrote “Get Up” as well with Elliott. Altogether a great – albeit short - CD that I didn’t even know existed and some fascinating insight into Cole’s earlier career that not many people know about.

So Alone    1:34
You've Changed    4:21
Streets Is A Motha    3:58
Down-N-Dirty    4:05
Love    4:35
Get Up    3:24
Talk To Me    3:11
Dumb Sh...    2:42
Snatch Yo Weave Out    3:22
Trifflin    1:24

Mixtape artist from Long Beach: Shy But Flyy

Early work from Long Beach-based artist Shy But Flyy and one of three mixtapes that she did in the mid-2000s before she decided to transition to blues, jazz and spoken word music instead. These days she plays center stage at local blues festivals but back in her early days was just one of many trying to make it on the R&B scene with her slinky vocals and sexy street image. Over the years, she has kept her name which seemed more suited to an MC than a vocalist but her music and image are vastly different. For me the highlight is definitely the gorgeous track "Love Is" but I need to give a shout out to "Give In And Up", for its sample of the backing track to "Me & U" by Cassie which most likely came out at around the same time. 

Dro City Intro    1:23
What It Is    3:01
Low Key    3:39
LOVE    4:25
Girlfriend (Original)    2:25
We On Top    1:28
Give In And Up    3:00
Maybe Tonite    3:21
So Flyy    1:34
Outro    0:45

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