Elsie Muniz

The Urban Latina.

Kandi and Tiny

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

P!nk

The Truth About Choice.

MQ3

Another shelved R'n'B group from 1997

Shiro

The First Lady of SoulPower.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Suga Holiday: Rollin' On Dubs (Promo CDr) (7ent., 2005)

Having quite a keen interest in underground female R&B groups, here we have yet another one from the mid-2000s. From Georgia, the track almost seems almost like a female take on Nelly's "Country Grammar (Hot Shit)" though I have no idea of the sample used. 

Alessa Jade: S/T (Self-Released, 2003)

Further Latina R&B/pop music with Alessa Jade, a South Florida-based singer who could’ve gone far. She took first place in “Star Power”, a nation-wide competition, and also opened for Carl Thomas in 2002. Of Colombian and Panamanian extraction, she was also one of the artists who opened the “First Annual Latin/Urban Music Festival”, also in 2002. Sixteen at the time, she could’ve quite easily joined the ranks of Xtina and Britney clones (she would’ve certainly given Aguilera a run for her money with the whole Spanish thing) but she somehow never did. Includes a sultry cover of “Loving You Still” which was originally recorded by Tamia for her self-titled album in 1998. Jade cites Tamia is one of her many inspirations. 
 
In an odd stroke of coincidence, an Ecuadorian alternative rock band began recording under her exact same name in 2015. 
 
"Up & coming artist Alessa Jade is a true, rare and soulful talent ready to be seen and heard. A very vocally oriented, versatile singer, Alessa Jade sings Pop, Rock, Hip Hop R&B. Alessa Jade is from Latin Descent, her father is Colombian and her mother is Panamanian and half American. Alessa Jade also sings in Spanish and will be recording her songs in Spanish. Her voice and unique exotic looks captivates her audiences and sets her apart from any other artist in the industry. Born and raised in South Florida, this young lady is often entertaining her family and friends. Thru out elementary and middle school, Alessa Jade took part in many talent shows. At the age of 14, Alessa Jade discovered her passion for performing and joined the drama department to further enhance her amazing talent. Alessa Jade then started taking private vocal lessons, acting lessons and private dance lessons with a local dance school. Alessa Jade has performed for her dance studio recitals, Teen Cabaret, local and state sponsored showcases, Ms. Florida Teen, Ms. and Mrs. Beauty Pageant 2002 and concerts in South Florida. Alessa Jade competed and took first place in "Star power" a National talent competition that travels throughout the United States. She also received an award for the "Highest Points Score" and brought home the "Platinum Award". Alessa Jade opened for Carl Thomas with Bad Boy Records at Club W8th in the village in New York City, New York on August 13th, 2002, Which was promoted by Red Star Productions and Octagon who are affiliated with Bad Boy Records. Alessa Jade has also performed for charities such as Make A Wish Foundation and Boggy Creek Gang Camp. A camp funded by Mr. Paul Newman for the Terminally Ill Children In Eustis, Florida. Alessa Jade was also one of the artist who opened for the "First Annual Latin/Urban Music Festival" in Miami on October 13, 2002. located at the "Bayfront Amphitheater: hosted by "Angie Martinez", "Dj Tony Touch" and other performances by City High. Alessa Jade is currently one of the five finalist who auditioned with over 1,000 performers, of all genders and styles of music to be performing at the 2003 Big Time Talent Show event on February 22, 2003 at the Center of Arts Amphitheater in Mizner Park, Boca Raton Florida. Alessa Jade's inspirations have been Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Tamia and many many more. This multi talented 16 year old beauty lights up the stage with her incredible voice and style. A true performer, Alessa jade leaves her audience intrigued and hungry for more."

Down In The Jungle    3:33
Loving You Still    5:33
Respect    4:26
Whoa    4:49
Break My Heart    3:47

Monday, May 9, 2022

Drop-Kick Productions by Sir-Jam Entertainment

Featuring a selection of male & female hip hop and R&B artists, mostly a very Lo-Fi sound on this demo though a few tracks make use of quite a few good samples and instrumentals not limited to Dennis Edwards’ “Don’t Look Any Further” ( “Tears”) and Monica & Brandy’s 1998 hit “The Boy Is Mine” (Kaycee’s “U-Can’t Be Like Me”).  Obviously from the late 90s, I have no idea who anybody is but possibly originating from North Carolina as per a quick search online. 

Thursday, May 5, 2022

P!ink: The Truth about Choice

Prior to finding success as a solo artist at the turn of the millennium, P!nk (then known only as Alecia Moore) was part of an all-girl R&B trio named Choice with two other teenage girls Chrissy Conway and Sharon Flanagan. Signed to LaFace Records, the trio are mostly known for their only song “Key to My Heart” which made it onto the Kazaam soundtrack in 1998. Of course, at the time, nobody really cared and the movie itself was a relative flop. It wasn’t until Moore found success as P!nk that people made it a point to listen to it. The truth was that the group was basically Moore with two backing singers, or at least that’s the way that some producers made it seem. They preferred Moore’s voice and the other two girls were basically relegated to the background. It didn’t sit right with the other two members, particularly Chrissy Flanagan, and the rest was history. The trio – who at one point were the subject of a bidding war between two competing major record labels - recorded at least 20 songs for their debut album according to one producer. Tracks included “Love Is Such A Crazy Thing” and “Let Me Let You Know” (both of which later made it onto P!nk’s debut album) and “Stay”, a Daryl Simmons track which was later recorded by Destiny’s Child for “The Writing’s On The Wall” in 1999. A few years back, a producer/writer who worked with the group talked of releasing the set in its entirety to iTunes but as of 2022, nothing much has materialized. At one point he admitted ripping the masters (from Digital Audio Tape) to be “overwhelming”. Fortunately owing to connections that we have, somebody sent us a very brief sampler that the producer sent him before going MIA. What is there to say about it? The production is fantastic, as you would expect from LaFace Records in the 90s. Immediately we start out with “Love Is Such a Crazy Thing” and “Let Me Let You Know”, two tracks which were later included on P!nk’s debut album. Nothing much sounds different; in fact, these are the exact same recordings (the former later made it on to a LaFace Records sampler in 1998 and yes, I can confirm personally that it is the exact same recording from “Can’t Take Me Home”.) The rest of the set hovers between slinky mid-tempos and schmaltzy soul ballads with Moore’s former  ”R&B Diva” vocals and riffs primed to the max, a sound that worked so well for her before she decided to "grow up". The writer/producer Joseph Priolo was keen to release the project but the last I could see, needed clearance from attorneys. Maybe one day, it will finally see the light of day.
 
Rumored song titles:
 
1. Love Is Such a Crazy Thing  
2. Let Me Let You Know  
3. Players  
4. Stay  
5. I Love My Boo 
6. Just To Be Loving You  
7. Make Cool  
8. Gotta Be You and Me  
9. My Love Is Gone  
10. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang  
11. If I Ever See Heaven Again  
12. Don't Go Breakin' My Heart  
13. Key To My Heart  
14. Can't Wait Another Day

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Shiro: From the Princess of A Lighter Shade of Brown to The First Lady of SoulPower

Shiro Stokes’ originally started out in an early incarnation of the singing group For Real (then stylized as 4-Reel) before becoming the princess of Chicano rap duo A Lighter Shade of Brown in the early 90s. With appearances “On A Sunday Afternoon” and “Latin Active”, the former of which peaked at no #39 on the Billboard Hot 100, Stokes was to release her first album “Can We Talk” via Scotti Bros in 1995. The perfect marriage of G-Funk and smooth R&B, it didn’t really get the attention it deserved back then. Sadly most of the acts on this label – which was I am guessing semi-independent – did not last beyond one album or single. In 1998, Stokes was picked up by Soulshock & Karlin and rebranded as “The First Lady of SoulPower”. Then at the top of their game, their trademark tinkly and melodious sound was all over her two singles “I Like” and “Good Love” so what happened? Another label that couldn't get their act together in the 90s was Noo Trybe Records. Starting out in 1994, they operated as the urban subdivision of Virgin/EMI Records and became the distributor for Houston, TX-based hip hop label Rap-A-Lot Records up until its demise in the late 90s. This was the most successful venture that they had with acts such as Luniz, AZ and others making the Billboard top 200. Sadly the R&B wing of the label was not as successful with non-existent albums from One Shade (1995), girl trio MQ3 (1997), Teddy Martin (1996) and lastly Shiro. Stokes’ album, titled “Life Goes On”, has been something Stuart and I have been after for years after the artist herself confirmed its existence to us. She had a tape in her possession but did not feel comfortable about leaking it due to “copyright reasons.” So we waited patiently until it showed up and last year the anticipation was finally over, well sort of. A Noo Trybe snippets tape showed up on eBay with excerpts of tracks from the album in question. After a very close bidding war between Stuart and a notorious Chicago-based collector who almost everybody knows about, the tape was eventually won to us for the pricey sum of $1200. $1200 for just over eleven minutes of music. This had better blow us away we thought. Ranging between 1:29 and 2:12 minutes in length and crossfaded for a seamless listening experience, it along with MQ3 turned out to be among our most enjoyable finds from last year, even if it was just over eleven minutes of music in total. From the very ardent “All I Wanna Do” to the sweetly mournful “Rainy Days”, this would’ve made for a truly fantastic album, proving that Soulshock & Karlin were more than apt to take the lead entirely on a project instead of merely being relegated to contributor status. I quite enjoyed Tracie Spencer’s 1999 album but to me, she was always lacking something. Stokes had this and more in my opinion but sadly the label let her down. 
 
 

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Another demo cassette haul

Out of CA, another 90s demo cassette haul and a mixture of modern soul, contemporary R&B and G-Funk flavas by a selection of male and female artists. I have no idea of the origin of any of them - there are no inlay cards - but I am leaning more toward a local producer or musician, possibly from the Bay Area. Two of them appear to be unmastered vocal session recordings. The smooth mid-tempo "Maken Me Weak", sung by an unknown female artist, is undoubtedly the highlight of the set.  

Saturday, April 16, 2022

More R&B/soul obscurities on cassette tape

Funky early 90s New Jack Swing and jazzy hip hop soul featuring writing and production from Keith Woodson (formally of Ta Mara & The Seen), Death Row Records’ Tony Green and Paul Fulton (formally of The Chips.)  Veronica appears to be a demo tape or at best a self-released project; it has an inlay but the cassette shell is completely blank while Asia did not come with a J-Card at all. I can find nothing about either artist but Asia possibly hailed from Queens, NY. 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Sexy: Dar-Rell: I Wanna Make Love...Not Just Sex EP (Strictly & Company, 199x)

Originally featured on Urban Collective: Volume 1, Stuart discovered this rarity back at the beginning of the year. I don’t know much about him but it seems he released two hip hop singles in the early 90s as Dar-Rell Strickland. It seems he was originally from Detroit, MI or at least based there at one point. A mixture of sexy quiet storm R&B and funky laid back jams with inflections of classic soul vocals and bustin’ rhymes, his track “I Wanna Make Love (Not Just Sex)” was one of the highlights of CD it was featured on in 1996 (see my previous post here.) 
 
I Wanna Make Love Not Just Sex 3:26 
I'm Just A Player 4:00 
Take 'Em Off 4:22 
Can You Get Up On This 4:11 
 
 

V/A: Urban Collective Vol. 1: R&B (Hi-Bias Records, 1996)

More top tier R&B showcasing the best in Canadian urban talent in the mid-90s. Again this has been something I have wanted for a long time after falling in love with many of the artists I heard on BeatFactory’s Groovessentials and other similar compilations from the Great White North. Again there are a lot of great tracks here that you won’t find anywhere else from Brent Taylor, Cleo-Patra,  Unique and others. Unique in particular were one of the highlights of Blacklisted Records’ Tha Crab Theory CD which I posted back in 2019 while Brent Taylor’s “I Wanna Get Freaky” is possibly the sexiest quiet storm song I have ever heard with “I Wanna Make Love” (Not Just Sex)” by Dar-rell (Strickland) a close second. Other tracks such as Cleo-Patra’s “Love You Right” and “Life Is Not The Same” by Tanya Mass are funky and rhythmic 90s R&B. Altogether an excellent compilation of 90s underground R&B talent, one which could definitely rival anything the US had to offer at the time. 
 
Denosh - Counting The Dayz 5:16   
Yolisiwa - Love Me Like I Love Ya (Off The Hook Mix) 4:11 
Daryl West - Nasty    4:11
Camille Douglas - Keep It That Way    4:35
Carlos Morgan - Feelin' Alright    4:12
Brent Taylor - I Wanna Get Freaky (Milestone Mix)    4:30
Cleo-Patra - Love You Right (Flava Mix)    3:26
M2P - Do You Love Me    3:59
Oval Emotion - It's Not The Right Time (StoneHenge Mix)    3:46
Unique - More Than Friends (Vocal Mix)    4:31
The McAuley Boys - In Another Lifetime    5:14
Dar-Rell - I Wanna Make Love (Not Just Sex)    3:29
Tanya Mass - Life Is Not The Same    4:26
Andrea Skeen - Take My Love (R&B Mix)    4:13
Renae - I Like The Way (831 Yaard Mix)    4:25
George Chambers - Nice & Slow    4:09

V/A: Solid Soul (Masiv Music, 1999)

From Blacklisted to BeatFactory, over the years we have found some great stuff from our Northern neighbors and this set Solid Soul is absolutely no exception. Volume 2 which I acquired back in 2019 was a bit of letdown. With 90% of the album focused on showcasing alternative hip hop (and with the main focus on Nigel Williams and his awful group The Pocket Dwellers), it is something that I don’t listen to all that often. Though I was disappointed, it was then that I discovered this album was actually a continuation from a CD that I had long since had in my want list and finally at the beginning of the year, I was at last able to get it. Unlike the second volume this set is 100% R&B and aside from the compulsory tracks by Carlos Morgan and Wade O. Brown (who are both great in their respective ways), there is a lot of great stuff here that you won’t find anywhere else not limited to “She Knows” by Meesah, “Everything and Anything” by 360 and “You Did Me Wrong” by Divine Earth Essence (aka Michelle “Divine” Brown or Boo Boo Brown from her earlier work.) Why Volume 2 was not of this same caliber I don’t know but it seems the original label Masiv Music shut up shop at the turn of the millennium and licensed their music out to somebody else. 
 
Meesah - Ride Wit Me 4:11 
Carlos Morgan - Watcha Got 3:51 
Divine Earth Essence - You Did Me Wrong 3:41 
Wade O Brown - No Other Woman 4:19 
Kaybe - I Cant Love You 4:13 
Fara - Pretty Brown (Dappas Mix) 5:20 
360 - Everything & Anything 5:48 
Wade O brown - Give Me The Chance 4:29 
Meesha - She Knows 4:30 
Simply E - Na Na 4:41 
Carlos Morgan - Watcha Got (Audiolab Remix) 3:26 
 
 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Caren Handley: I Wanna Be Loved (CDS) (T-Barr Records, 1997)

From the latter part of the mid-90s, a great slow jam from an unknown Atlanta female artist who visually bears more than a striking resemblance to a young Whitney Houston. No information to be found on her anywhere but the song’s instrumentation and vocal arrangements reminded me slightly of “Wait For Me” by Chalant. It was produced by Keith “Keecho” Rawls formally of the 80s R&B duo Jamm and looking at the track info for Chalant’s own song I was astounded to see it was produced by Fred “Freddie Boy” Sawyers, the other half of the duo. I guess I have a great ear. 

Karen Workman: Demo - Unknown from Atlanta, GA

From a closed down community radio station in Atlanta, GA (WRFG), another obscure demo from an unknown female artist. Though it’s on a CDr, the music is a mixture of early 90s modern soul and bouncy swing-beat that originally sounds like it was recorded onto analog cassette tape. Not full songs sadly but along with Andre and Kaize Adams, one of the better things to come from this particular seller on Discogs. 
 
 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Further shelved music from the UK: Melodi Brown

Further shelved music from Melodi Brown (Zahra, Kemi, Kelly Ann and Stefanie) an early 2000s girl group whose songs were later given to Jamelia, Rachael Stevens and even Britney Spears to record. Their debut single "Naked" was pulled a few months before its official release and "Do Something" was originally meant to be their song before it became a hit for Spears. Although very catchy, some songs were a little on the poppy side; "Never Knew My Baby" was later given to Thai pop singer Tata Young and another "Naked" starts out great before the chorus takes it - for me at least - into average pop song territory. Mostly produced by Bloodshy & Avant, the highlight of the set was undoubtedly "Skin", with its uncanny similarity to Blu Cantrell's "Hit 'Em Up Style", and with the energetic "Spin The Record" coming in at a close second.  Answers as to what happened include one member leaving the group and the label Polydor choosing to focus on its new girl band at the time, a certain one with a then Cheryl Tweedy as the lead singer. 
 

Surprising Finds from The Estates

More unknown R&B with Dreyce and Kieye, two artists that have been the highlight of their label (Frofar Records) compilations CDs back in the mid-2000s, for me at least. Multi-faceted, melodic and a touch melodramatic, "Lonely" especially is a gem of a song. The producer Richie De'rell had been linked to artists such as Nelly and Geniwine back in the day but in what capacity exactly I cannot say. There's not much information on the archive aside from a very retro flash advertisement for an mp3 player, presumably designed and marketed by the label themselves. As well as R&B and hip hop, they also dabbled in pop and indie rock music. A further artist from the label can be found here. 
 

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Obscure UK white labels: two hits and a miss

Always on the hunt for obscure white labels that nobody has posted yet, we again found ourselves down the wild back alley of Discogs. Every year or so we do this and mostly we have found a lot of great stuff (this for instance.)  The cream of the crop this year is undoubtedly “Calling Me Back”, a dreamy mid-tempo fronted by a unknown female vocalist. The track was written by a former collaborator with MJ Cole who, along with Elizabeth Troy, featured on tracks from his “Sincere” album back in the day. There may be some sort of connection to the UK Garage scene although the original version of the track appears to be of the garage house genre. Coming in a close second is female singer-songwriter Kamari with her vehement ode to back-stabbers ”I Won’t Let U Get 2 Me.” As described in DJ Zone’s DJ Magazine “The combination of her voice and lyrics are expertly crafted with his production genius and signified with the use of a melodic lightly played guitar, that adds a depth and a touch, not heard for a long time and definitely different from all the above mentioned UK females (Ms. Dynamite, Jamilia et al.) The original version is preferred over the remix although I appreciate she took the time to re-record the vocals. She was looking to record a "soulful" album with jazz influences (her influences ranged from Jill Scott to Erykah Badu)  although whether it was released or not, I can't say. Subsequent stuff released by the label show no mention of her at all. Her producer was said to have worked with US rapper Nelly although I could not find any information linking the two. As for the final find, well…it appeared to have ties to a house and garage label although the main edit sounds more like something N’Sync would’ve done back in the day. Not a great fan of this although the garage mixes aren't too shabby. 

From Toronto to Wolftown, more interesting finds from the UK

From the UK, more great R&B music hidden away on little-known compilations that most people may not have heard of. The first Thomas Maxwell was native to Jamaica but emigrated to Canada in his early teens. He first became interested in music after seeing two of his friends performing on stage and by the mid-90s had taken an extended vacation in the UK where he came out as a top contender in several talent competitions. Musically influenced by the Church and by artists such as Luther Vandross, Johnny Gill and R. Kelly, he recorded “No Hurry” in the late 90s and it soon found its way onto a compilation CD where he got a rave review: “Thomas Maxwell: The Artist to Look out for.” It was released as an actual single at the turn of the millennium though the version on the compilation CD features different, more upbeat production. Whether this was the original version I can’t say but the versions on the CD single (released in 2000) have a very mid-90s vibe about them. Also another surprising find was Syrona Ma’rie whose catchy tracks were the gem of another interesting find out of Wolverhampton, solidifying the British Midlands once again as a place to go to for great underground R&B music. In the words of Rago Magazine: “This album isn't all strictly Hip-Hop, but is definitely something that fans of good UK urban music should check. Splashings of R'n'B, raga, hip-hop and pure club bangers come from this new crew from Wolverhampton City (better known as Wolftown). Featuring beats by Rico Levant and raps from his brother Dezert Rhino, alongside Angel Lee, Syrona Marie and Steela this mixtape CD is a superb introduction from a crew with bags of talent. On the real, the girls in the crew have the singing flex on lock. Sweet summer style vocals oozing of fruit! ....” Check out Ma’rie’s later music here. 
 

Friday, March 4, 2022

Perry Morgan: East London's Finest

Mixtape EP from soulful East London singer Perry Morgan, who was compared to a diverse spectrum of well-known artists from yesteryear such as Nate Dogg, Deano (H-Town), John Legend and many others. Mostly known for featuring on Wiley's song "Nothing About Me" from 2007, he also provided vocals for songs such as Slim Dutty's "Look Too Good" and "London News" by Sway, J2K and Baby Blue (2007.) His style was mostly unique though from the futuristic "Get With Me" to the orchestral-driven and fast-paced "My People" to the acoustic chill-soul of "Let It Go." Standout tracks for me include "Get With Me" (as featured on this compilation here) and the very mid-2000s schmaltzy slow jam "Wifey Material" (which can be found on the following compilation "Dam Good Soul Vol. 1".)

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Warren Stacey: From Popstars to Def Jam

Along with Terri Walker and Aaron Soul, former Popstars Finalist Warren Stacey (real name Warren Jituboh) was yet another very brief singing to Def Soul UK in the early 2000s. After failing to make it into the resulting group, he managed to bag himself a 5-album deal reportedly worth at least $1 million and was soon packed off to the US to work with big name producers on his debut album which would be “guaranteed to impress.” He also had the backing of Lynden David Hall’s former manager and Kwame Kwaten of D’Influence, but after only one single “My Girl, My Girl” nothing further was heard from him. Despite working with big name US producers such as Tricky Stewart and Warryn Campbell, he was determined to stick with his humble British roots. He said that he didn’t want to sing about “Bentleys and Hoes” as that just wasn’t him. Indeed, he came across as rather clean-cut. I guess he never could shake off those Popstars roots. Vocally he was a tad wet behind the ears but nothing that a few more years in the industry could not fix. It was a shame that he never got the chance. “When anybody compares me to anyone else I don't mind because there's always someone who's been there before you. It’s cool if somebody needs someone to compare you to, to describe what you do, then it’s cool...but I'm a bit perplexed when they say I look like Craig David though!!!” (2001)
 
Scared    3:15
Ayo    3:52
Alright Alright    3:19
Hot 4 U    3:18
Falling 4 A Stranger    4:14
My Girl    3:22
 

Surprising finds on "White Label" CDs

Rare underground tracks from a wide variety of underground UK artists, including unreleased tracks from mid-90s Croydon crooners Peace By Piece known for their single “Sweet Sister” in 1996. The song earned them a MOBO Award for Best Newcomers but they left Warner Records shortly after. On their debut album, they worked with Cutfather & Joe, Linslee Campbell and Derek Bramble (Jaki Graham) but it seemingly never had a very wide-release due to them leaving their label. In 2002, they were planning a return to music, describing their sound as "urban UK classic soul” but sadly nothing much ever became of that either despite hopes of collaborations with Craig David and other well-known UK stars at the time. Following the web address given in the booklet here, it seemed more than anything they wanted to branch into production. Prior to this, group member Trea Fisher had produced tracks for Beverley Knight, Tymes 4 and others. Tracks by them here are billed as “Urban Kings featuring PXP” but as per the inlay, appear to be written and produced by the group members themselves. Was this possibly a moniker for their production name? A further track by them features an unknown female vocalist "Nessa". 
 

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Wayne Williams (ex-Another Level): Album Sampler (Abbey Road Studios, 2001)

 I never cared much for boybands but with their covers of classics such as “Freak Me” and the bumpy soul of “Be Alone No More” with a then relatively unknown Jay-Z, Another Level managed to skirt the boundaries as being more of an R&B group as opposed to yet more masturbation fodder for hormonal teenage girls (yes I know all the girls loved Dane Bowers.) Looks aside, the group was not bad and by the turn of the millennium caught the attention of Clive Davis who told them it was his intention to make them “massive” in America. Shortly after the groups’ main driving force Wayne Williams left the group. Williams as the group’s musician, he wrote the songs that later became hits and without him, there was no group. Bowers cried “ego” but Williams had already been unhappy for some time about being pushed to the back while they brought the more photogenic Bowers to the front. They were both more than capable singers but eventually Bowers was the one chosen to do most of the lead parts because as he put it “it did sound better on that (particular) song.” Williams could’ve made it as a solo artist but it seems he was shortly blackballed. While Bowers was later signed to Arista as a solo artist, Williams first single “He Can’t Love You” was not talked about at all. I guess that’s what you get when you say no to Davis though Bowers was the next member to get shafted when his own solo album “Facing The Crowd” was shelved in 2001. Altogether a sad fate for two guys who probably should’ve done better.

Former Another Level star, Wayne Williams , sees the release of his debut solo album out later in the summer. The sound evoked on the sampler tips a wink to Wayne's transatlantic heroes, Bobby Brown, Jay-Z, Teddy Riley and Sisqo, without shaking off his distinctive West London edge. From the latin influenced " Had Enough" to the ballad-like "Woman Scorned", Wayne is defiantly solo and this shines through in the soulful vibe of current single "He Can't Love You".

 

He Can't Love You    3:48
Lonely    3:15
Had Enough    3:47
Woman Scorned    5:26
Mr Right    4:02

David's Daughters: Album Sampler (ZTT Records, 1999)

Think of this duo much like a female version of Seal. Signed to his same record label (ZTT) and produced by his same producer Trevor Horn, they released only one single, the very up-beat ”Dreaming Of Loving You” and then disappeared. I have no idea what happened but their music, like Seal’s, was pretty much before it’s time. With a touch of rock, pop, soul and even drum’n’bass, they weren’t really a traditional contemporary R&B duo though much like Seal, did straddle the boundaries of pop music. They later provided back-up vocals to Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony’s “The Righteous Ones” off their 2000 album "Btnhresurrection" and recently “Dreaming Of Loving You” has been released to streaming with all the corresponding remixes. Were these girls better suited to hip hop and R&B music? Listen to both "The Righteous Ones" and "Desert Flower" below. 


Dreaming Of Loving You    4:11
Desert Flower    4:16
Is This Love?    4:00

Elizabeth Troy: Sampler (Talkin' Loud, 200x)

First featured on my Best of Street Beats playlist with the funky “Headstrong”, Elizabeth Troy is a versatile vocalist who was able to effortlessly glide between jungle music, UK street soul and UK Garage with ease. When the latter was all the rage in the early 2000s, she was the voice behind MJ Cole’s hits “Crazy Love” & “Sincere” before embarking on her own solo project with the release of “Minus 10 Degrees” in 2001. Her album was to be produced by Cole, Ed Case, Roni Size and other big names but sadly never saw the light of day outside of a few white label 12"s. This was possibly due to the label Talkin' Loud's association with the Mercury record label which at the time was in dour financial trouble. Such a shame, as UK Garage was fast beginning to lose the rawness which made it great in favor of a more radio-friendly pop sound popularized by acts such as Mis-Teeq and The True Steppers. 

Past Love    4:19
Keep Your Sorries    4:56
Minus Ten Degrees    4:07
Suppressing It    3:40
Black Lisa    5:12
Hold On Tighter    3:18

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Ali (Alistar Tennant): Promo EP (200x)

Formally of the short-lived early 90s R&B quartet Rhythn-N-Bass, Tennant, who was blessed with a raw and soulful voice, released his debut album "Crucial" in 1998 via Polydor. Initially  he appeared to be pushed to the US market and many of his singles were released via Island Black Music (while it was still owned by PolyGram.) In Britain, his album went by the alternate title of "Bitter Honey" and appeared to be marketed by Polydor sub label at the time WildCard. At the turn of the millennium, he released "Do Your Thing" via independent label 3MV which was many of the great rare tracks chosen by me to feature on my "Best Of Street Beats" playlist a few years back. I have no idea where the above set came from but along with "Jamila" was one of many CDs found by my friend (a producer and former library musician) in amongst the bits and pieces he'd collected over the years. Tracks such as "Three Wishes" and "Do You Don't Ya" are very much uptempo contemporary R&B with the remainder (especially "Look What You're Doin'" staying true to his blues/soul roots. 

Three Wishes    3:29
Finally    3:28
Do Ya Don't Ya    3:30
Look What You're Doin'    4:03

More publishing CD greatness

At first assumed to be an unreleased project from UK singer Jamelia, it actually has connections to another UK R&B star Shola Ama. Sung by an unknown singer "Jamilia", the CD features the original version of Ama's track "In Return". The track was originally written by Bradley Spalter and appeared on Ama's 1999 album of the same name. Compared with the other tracks on this disc by Jerkins, Wayne Lawes (Full Crew) and StarGate, I always found Ama's version rather filler-esque but here on part of the singer's fine vocals, it really stands out. The other track "Wishful Thinking" appears to have never been used by anybody else but the structure of the song is somewhat similar to Coco Lee's "All Tied Up In You" which was also written by Spalter. It does not appear to have been registered with ASCAP but was published via Shankman DeBlasio Melina Inc.

In Return    4:04
Wishful Thinking    5:25

Monday, January 31, 2022

Mellody: Loving U (Comes Easy) (CDS) (Bloodline Management, 2001)

A further obscure find from a UK-based former producer and library musician. No information about the singer or her producer "Oriental" anywhere but was destined for big things in 2005 and appeared on a few tracks from UK underground rapper Yung Cross which never made it off mixtapes. Slightly underground sounding but has a captivating melody. Somewhat of a throw back to Ripperton's 1974 song but without the whistles.

         From in the inlay

This is the first of many sure fire hit singles that have set many pirate stations ablaze produced by upper coming from producer oriental. Look out for Mellody on fellow label mate and rising UK star MC X-DMC singles: "(That) Playa Cross" and "Special Girl". She's definitely heading for the top spot on all the biggest licensed radio stations. Amazing voice. amazing attitude - she's a star! 

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Lisa Roxanne: Cars And Motorbikes (CDS) (The Bigpockets LTD., 2005)

Lewisham's, Lisa Roxanne was only 14-year's-old when she made headlines for signing a 4-album deal reportedly worth more than 1 million pounds. Her mother, a former singer with London soul group Loose Ends, wasn't entirely convinced that she had the stamina to succeed but she eventually won her over and landed a deal with New York-based Palm Pictures LLC., a label set up by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell. The deal made it to the tabloids in 2001 with the ill-informed comparisons to fellow teen pop starlet at the time Billie Piper, but she was streets ahead of her, Jamelia, Mumba and anybody else on the UK pop music scene at the time. Her vocals were on point, she could rap like Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopez and her songs were incredibly catchy in a cheeky TLC-esque fashion. Sadly by the by the time her second single was released, she had officially become defunct despite appearances on Nickelodeon and at the MOBO Awards where she was happily posing on the red carpet with Left-Eye. Her album "Diary Of My Dreams" was never released. I don't know what happened but despite all the money pooled into her and Blackwell’s successes with such artists and groups as Bob Marley and U2, nothing happened for this girl who could’ve been amazing. 
Were her mother's doubts about her daughter's heart not entirely being in it justified after all? Or did the British public just have a dire taste in music? She performed at the Trafford Centre in Manchester where she was pretty much ignored in favor of Steps offshoot 3SL. As per a Guardian article in 2001, she was insistent on staying focused on her school work but she didn't just disappear. Following this, she had a song in the 2002 movie "Dirty Pretty Things" and then in 2004, did some work in the US for TV One’s new dating show at the time “Get the Hookup.” I was surprised to find a single for "Get The Hookup" on Amazon in the US a few years back where it had most likely been sitting unknown for years. It even had a b-side "If I Knew". Following this, she continued to record music and a mutual friend D, who had worked as a library musician in the past and had a huge haul of CDs that he'd been sent over the years to catalog, came across yet another one of her little-known releases here. Titled "Cars and Motorbikes", it was recorded in 2005 for an unknown project and in his words bore a slight similarity structurally to “Lap Dance” by N.E.R.D. It was produced by the same people behind some of her earlier songs (The Bigpockets) and is just as catchy. Once again, it was a shame she never made it beyond one single but I don't think Palm Pictures with its in reggae and alternative rock music, was the right label for her

Friday, January 14, 2022

Raise featuring Veba: I Got It (CDM) (Sub Dub Records Ltd., 1996)

From 90s street soul to early 2000s contemporary R&B a la Mary J. Blige and Destiny’s Child, a fresh new contribution from Lewic with Raise, who were possibly a pseudonym for 90s Asian production outfit Simon & Diamond (Simon & Diamond Duggal.) Best known for their work with Apache Indian, they went on to create a genre of their own from the marriage of Asian and Jamaican music heard around London the in early 90s but originally started out with a street soul tune called “No More (Making Love)” by an artist called Aretha Daye in 1992. The lead vocalist here is Veba (aka Beverly Green) who was mostly known for her vocal work with Rae & Christian in the late 90s and early 2000s. 

I Got It (Original Radio) 4:01 
I Got It (Street Basic) 4:54 
I Got It (Mikkel S.E) 3:53 
I Got It (Volcano Radio Edit) 4:07 
I Got It (Subdub Extended Vocal) 8:04 
I Got It (Star City Orchestra Remix) 6:46 
 

Seven Universal Records: Maxi Player Set

More exclusive music from Dee Majek's Seven Universal label which again can be heard in its remixed form on Street Beats (Vol. 12.) The label itself were mostly known for their series of Beat Researcher mixtapes in the 90s and later for their work with U.S. artists such as Zakiya. Sadly the majority of it seemed to go unreleased but Dee did know quality when he saw it as demonstrated on tracks such as "One More Time" and "Lonely Nights" by Prime Directiv. He mainly spent his time promoting underground U.S. talent and later had success at MAPP Records. His main success to date seems to be for Derrick Dixon whose EP was released via UK label Stonegroove Recordings in 2000. The above two artists I know nothing about but Darnell seems to be a Bobby Brown-esque vocalist along the same lines as J'Son Thomas. "Little Bit Of Love" actually features replayed elements of New Edition's song of the same name while the other featured track here uses elements of The Commodores' 1977 song "Zoom". Hard to say whether it was clearance issues that stalled this project but this CD Maxi isn't very easy to find. 

For The Honeys (Single Version)    5:05
For The Honeys (Fly Honeys Mix)    5:22
For The Honeys (Club Mix)    4:44
A Little Bit Of Love (Single Version)    4:01
A Little Bit Of Love (Bonus Mix)    4:35