Saturday, October 9, 2021

MQ3: another causalty of Chris Stokes

Over the years I have had the pleasure of sampling many unreleased projects and across many of them two names always seem to come up: Sylvia Rhone and Chris Stokes. While Rhone had spoiled many quality R&B projects when she was the head of East West Records and later Universal Motown, Stokes has also left behind a trail of casualties in his wake not limited to the short-lived quartet Gyrl and early projects by two of the Chilombo girls. The above was another such group and whose only single “Everyday” was written by Stokes and produced by Rodney “Darkchid” Jerkins in 1997. Signed to Virgin’s short-lived Noo Trybe imprint, they were also co-signed to Get Hooked Records which I believe was affiliated with Stokes in the mid to late 90s. There is little information about them aside from a few very brief mentions in some 1997 issues of Billboard magazine but according to one member Shadie who commented on their You Tube video, they completed not one but two albums. Continuing on she says “Unfortunately, things did not pan out with the management and production team we signed to so it got lost in the shuffle.” A very common story that we have unfortunately heard many times before. Admittedly, I was not the biggest fan of “Everyday”; to me, it did not have the same bodacious vibe as Mary’s “I Can Love You” or Brandy & Monica’s “The Boy Is Mine” and I can’t help but think that it was just pushed as a first single primarily to cash in on the rising popularity of Jerkins at the time. I think this group could’ve done better. Well, it is a long story us finally getting this tape but I can say that indeed “Everyday” was just the tip of the iceberg. From the funk-driven “Love Jones” to the love-making of ”Don’t Make Me Stop” and “Love Letter” to the smooth R&B sounds of “Serving Me” and “Share My World”, every track on it is like a chronology of the best sounds from the latter part of the 90s. They were basically what I imagine Gyrl would’ve sounded like had they ever released an album back then. Aside from Jerkins on “Everyday”, I am inclined to believe that Stokes produced quite a few tracks on here, namely “Share My Love” which features one of his short-lived MCs from back then Spark. It is often assumed that they were Jerkins’ group (a producer who despite his immense popularity in the late 90s/early 2000s also had his fair share of casualties) but now I am leaning more towards Stokes as being the main driving force behind them which is probably one of the main reasons why they sadly didn’t go anywhere. As for their other album, I can only dream of how great that one was as well.
Everyday    3:26
Serving Me    3:44
Icing On The Cake    3:30
Cry    3:51
1,000 Times    4:01
Love Jones    4:18
Don't Make Me Stop    4:17
Baby Bay You    4:10
Share My Love    3:54
Love Letter    4:38
Say Goodbye    3:58
Mama Said    3:19
Back To You    4:17
Everyday    3:38