when new jack swing started to falter, a new influx of girl groups, including swv, appeared circa 1992, along with mary j blige, and were hailed as ‘new jill swing’. see what they did there?
this was in fact a misleading label as the music these girls were making wasn’t a feminised new jack sound. it was in fact far grittier, and more likely to take its cues from naughty by nature than guy. another labelling hiccup occurred when, logically, since their names begin with a ‘t’ ‘l’ and ‘c’, you guessed it, that was to be the group’s name before the eventual tlc beat them to it within a matter of weeks.
most of these girl groups, in order to compete in the g-funk era, were forced to dress and act like men. gone were the lyrca minidresses and heels. in with the homegirl persona and lumberjack shirts. swv didn’t go down this route. maybe because they were still in high school, and hadn’t developed the right kind allure to carry it off. they were far from ugly, but its fair to say swv would never have been accused of possessing looks over talent.
coko, lelee and taj may have been young, but i had no idea at the time. they sang like women, in contrast to left eye’s cute rapping for tlc. they dressed older than their years, unlike jade, who appeared to still be hanging out with the underage street crowd. they weren’t too cool, which made them real. years later, their songs sound fresh.
their accessibility saw them enjoy huge success until their split in 1998. coko then embarked on a solo career, to lukewarm success. taj married a dallas cowboys footballer and currently has a reality show amusingly titled ‘i married a baller‘. lelee recently revealed that the group received little financial reward for their work and that she’s been struggling to stay afloat since the group split. sound familiar?
twelve swv essentials – download here
their most famous track has many versions. the most ubiquitous is definitely the michael jackson sampling human nature mix, but this g-man mix is probably lesser known and proves there was more to the song than good sampling.
i’m so into you
again, there were several versions of this track – the original and allstars mix are widely available, but this teddy riley mix featuring wreckx-n-effect bumps along nicely. the first swv track i ever bought.
the original ballad is nice, but this remix is perfect midtempo 90s jeep music. it had stuttering beats before timbaland invented them and twittery, electronic background vocals. should be on every chillout playlist.
again, the original is ok but this remix, featured on above the rim, with the wu-tang clan, is something else. i defy you not to dance if you hear this in a club.
an unreleased track which sounds early 90s to me so probably a leftover from ‘it’s about time’. nice production, this has become one of my favourites.
all night long
featured on the waiting to exhale soundtrack, this is one of swv’s best slow jams.
use your heart
this version is a duet featuring rome. a young pharrell williams produced this, and several other tracks on swv‘s second album ‘a new beginning’.
another unreleased track, very unusual arrangement and I’m wondering why this failed to get past whichever album session it was recorded in.
from 1997’s booty call soundtrack, this is one swv‘s most popular tracks.
tell me how you want it
another soundtrack contribution, this time from the money talks soundtrack.
i’m not sure many people realise this is actually a cover of an 80s vesta williams track. this is one of those rare times when the cover is better.
where you are
a jackson five cover for the hav plenty soundtrack. i prefer this version to wacko’s pre-teen squeaking.