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.

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".)