dirty martini

old music for new people

r&b girl bands: voted off the island April 26, 2008

assuming they were famous enough to get on a reality show in the first place. the 00s have not really been a great time for girl bands. in the late 90s it was a crowded market, full of stage school wannabes thrown together with people they hate and a few genuine girl groups looking to capitalise on the spice trend.

who do we have now? sugababes? girls aloud? tch…

download here

3lw – feelin’ you

ok not exactly drifting towards obscurity but in music terms, it’s over. interestingly when they debuted in 2000 they were sounding too mature and now in their 20s, they’re disney. counter-intuitive.

411 – on my knees

brit girl band from a few years back. like danity kane but less porn channel and more smtv. fond of hiphop sampling to communicate street credentials.

aaries – strangers to lovers

have collaborated with sir musiq of soulchild and this alone should have raised more interest. add that to the fact that they’re a fairly talented bunch and make quality soul not ringtone r&b and it’s difficult to see where it went wrong.

anjel – not the way i pictured it

after being dumped by beyonce and kelly (ok, beyonce and mathew..), letoya and latavia hooked up with naty quinones and tiffany beaudoin to form short-lived anjel.

bella  – never be me

yet another ‘big on myspace’ act that didn’t translate. see also ‘jazzy’ and ‘unklejam’.

blaque – i’m good

had a not bad run thanks to their mentor, left eye. blaque actually started out ten years ago nowm as blaque ivory. this track is now a staple of show like ‘so you think you can dance’ and ‘bump’n grind’ on trouble.

gyrlfriend – sprung

produced by the underdogs, but it wasn’t enough. their names is so 90s, as well.

her sanity – xclusive

over-produced and silly name. like a budget version of allure.

isyss – not letting him go

including the sister of actress meagan good, this group were quite good and focused on uptempos, which is always a bonus.

js – someone

think changing faces, not updated a great deal, for the 00s. i might have missed something but i don’t recall the original group being so popular that we needed a sequel.

phajja – checkin’ for me

their two albums were actually ok. a bit like brownstone to me. but they nicked a classic album title, ‘meeting in the ladies room’ and this seemed to seal their fate.

tg4 – two minutes

not very tastefully sang about virginity with needa s…yes that old woman once known as smooth. eww. that family are sleaze. lying about their ages and allegedly corrupting kids.

 

i’m a 90s girl December 19, 2007

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 not every girl needed the security of a band in the 90s. these are some brave souls who stepped out on their own talent.

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chantay savage – betcha’ll never find

best known for her 1996 remake of gloria gaynor’s ‘i will survive’, but she actually released her debut album, including this uptempo track, three years earlier. was said to be recording a new album in 2005, but no sign yet.

diane marsh – private party

well connected uk singer if you believe her myspace. no idea how old she is now but she had a great voice and should make a comeback with a network like that…phew!

elisha la verne – i may be single

elisha did well in japan, mysteriously. well you know what i mean…i know they go for the whole blonde thing but when certain artists blow up over there and leave their home country cold i always think its odd. is it just good PR? content? style?

gina thompson – the things you do

bad boy affiliate whose debut single provided a platform for soon-to-be superstar missy elliott, but failed to ignite her own career.

jamecia – keep it real

mystery artist from 1995.

laurnea – infatuation

still doing it. this is from her first album in 1997, which she worked on with joss stone’s alleged sugar daddy, raphael saadiq. i’m still not sure i believe that rumour…

maxeen – searching

annoyingly, maxeen is now the name of some dreary post-indie, post-punk, post-quality, post-anything-remotely-interesting band.  which makes it difficult to google the original.

mona lisa – just wanna please you

mona had a successful album at the age of 16 and is back with new material, most of which sounds pretty good, at the ripe old age of 27.

monifah – i miss you

lauded as the vocalist to beat all other 90s r&b vocalists at the time she minorly blew up after contributing this song to the new york undercover soundtrack. managed to put out three albums.

taral hicks – distant lover

minorly successful with her one and only album, she is now part of the soul kittens cabaret along with nicci gilbert of brownstone, monifah and several other people i haven’t heard of.

yvette michele – i’m not feeling you

yvette sang the hook on ‘loud hangover’ and a potential star was born. liked to sing about how crazy she was about DJs, a common 90s affliction.

zakiya – love like mine

her second album was shelved and she seemingly gave up on her career…shame as this track was bouncy in a groove theory ‘tell me’ kind of way. never a bad thing.

 

before they were famous August 28, 2007

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 sometimes things take a little time to get right. i’m not talking britney spears in a meringue dress growling her way through early 90s hits on the mickey mouse club, or a pre-makeover jennifer lopez looking butch on in living color.

these are the early recordings that got feet in doors. some of them are better than others. that’s my disclaimer right there.

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luther vandross – the second time around (1976)

luther was originally part of a group, called ‘luther’. ooh, premature diva anyone? this song was from the first of two albums in 1976 and is standard mid 70s soul. he also sang an ad for kfc around the same time…soul food indeed.

alicia keys – sexy thing (1997)

a very young ms keys contributed this track to the men in black soundtrack. she sounds more or less the same but had developed a more unique tone by the time of her debut four years later.

ashanti – can’t stop (1997)

not sure how ashanti clung on for five years to make the leap from low budget debut to murder inc and innumerable collaborations with ja rule. these days an artist is stuffed if they don’t create a buzz on myspace within five weeks.

biggie – party and bullshit (1993)

nice lumberjack’n’fire-in-keg era hiphop. a year later, ‘ready to die’ was released and the rest is sad history. no doubt he would be the biggest rapper in the game if he were still alive. 

leona lewis – private party (2004)

recorded with ludacris before her appearance on x factor 2006, it makes you wonder if the music industry just sits back and waits for tv to tell them who to sign? well, good for her for going the proper route and being too nice to do anything unsavoury to get ahead.

usher – call me a mack (1993)

usher was only 14 when he recorded this for the poetic justice soundtrack and it shows. did usher’s early foray into the adult music business inspire his preference for older women? you’d think he could do better than a he-woman though.

john legend – hurt so bad (2003)

i think i might prefer jl’s early work to his current album. hmm. or maybe live just suits him better. he did several live sets before releasing a studio album.

janet jackson – young love (1982)

if a jackson couldn’t score a hit in 1982, you would assume it was because the music was poor. janet’s first two albums are quality post-disco soul but i think people were just expecting something a bit more groundbreaking. which ‘control’ certainly was.

mariah carey – weakness of the body (1986)

well, the leona lewis story seems to be repeating history to an extent. mariah was certainly active for several years before her debut and whitney was recording since the late 70s. maybe this is the secret to a long lasting career. rihanna’s stuffed, then…

anthony hamilton – total xtc (1996)

…but hopefully this bodes well for anthony, whose 90s debut was totally overlooked. the style is more conscious of its time than his successful later efforts, and not as well thought out, but very listenable.

prince – just another sucker (1977)

19 year old prince recorded this track as part of his then band 94 east. could have easily slotted into one of his later albums. must have sounded amazing in 1977 – to those few who actually got to hear it.

destiny’s child – killing time (1997)

this is a nice but unremarkable slow jam from the men in black soundtrack, but those vocals and harmonies are there. i miss the original lineup. wish some unreleased material would surface, that would be interesting.

 

00s brit soul – national identity June 3, 2007

finally, after the copycat 80s and highs and lows of the 90s, british soul was ready to take on its own identity.

one of the first ways in which it achieved this was by redefining soul. house and garage were big business in the 90s, but the urban clubs and superclubs rarely mixed. typically, r&b was a smaller room adjacent to the the cheesier, townie clubs and didn’t even get a look in at cream, renaissance and the ministry of sound.

 

the speed garage scene that took off in the late 90s eventually slowed to a two step beat, and created a completely new sound. r&b vocals were married to stuttering, club-friendly beats and for a few years, between 1999 and 2002, uk garage was the sound of young UK.

 

after the inevitable drop in demand, uk hiphop and r&b were faced with a decision. either they could continue to emulate their US counterparts or they could use elements of uk garage to make their output distinctly british.

now we have traditional soul, copycat r&b, grime and some artists that defy classification and confuse the hell out of the yanks. we’re back in business…

 

twelve very different uk tracks from the 00sdownload here


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lemar – if there’s any justice

the only good thing to come out of the dull fame academy, simon cowell surely wishes he’d been able to get to lemar first. lemar, like girls aloud, has truly transcended his reality show beginnings and is pretty much the best current british male r&b act.

 

 

misteeq – why

south london girl band who leveraged links with the so solid crew to create a successful career in the early 00s. swiftly shook off their uk garage roots by the time they reached their second album in 2002. the group split largely due to their label, polydor, sinking after investing way too much in tone deaf victoria beckham. that’s got to hurt.
 

unklejam – love ya

relative newcomers who have been blessed/cursed with the ‘sounds a bit like prince‘ tag. time will tell if there is more to them than this track, but the odds are in their favour with the hype reaching all corners of the globe right now. another myspace success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sadie ama – so sure

shola’s little sister had a valuable induction into the industry at an early age, and she’s making some good choices production-wise, collaborating with the likes of kano and terror danjah amongst others. looks and sounds exactly the same – with shola expected to relaunch anytime soon, could be interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

conner reeves – oughtabelaw

irish soul boy who first came to prominence in the late 90s. this track from last year deserved way more attention. possibly one of the breed of artists that has suffered greatly from the download revolution as his image doesn’t quite fit his music. i always think people navigate this poor fit by just grabbing the audio.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

emmanuel and terri walker – flirtin’

always tipped to break through. hopefully it will happen for her before she is talked into a beverley knight-style commercial compromise. this track is from emmanuel‘s 2006 project that featured numerous british soul artists on his productions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

keisha white – open like so

came through around the same time as keyshia cole, and is far more talented, but received about 5% of the promotion. so, keyshia collaborates with p diddy and is set to release her second album whilst keisha‘s future is unknown. harsh. a good example of why leona lewis has been whisked off to the us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nate james – universal

actually received some promotion around his debut in 2005, and it did ok. i’m going to be lazy and say he’s a hybrid of stevie wonder and lenny kravitz and worthy of your attention. hopefully an association with next big thing, sway, will catapult him back into the limelight.

 

 

 

 

 

craig david – seven days with mos def

back in 2000, referring yourself in the third person was even more ridiculous than it is now. the ensuing bo selecta parody may outlive his music in the nation’s consciousness if he doesn’t pull his finger out soon. craig, unfazed, still refers to himself in the third person when appearing on mtv cribs showing us how all his cash has enabled him to construct a state of the art pulling den. no women in sight though, and you can’t swing a jocasi bag round london without hitting someone he’s tried it on with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ms dynamite – fall in love again

made a good contract choice and got the promotion other uk artists would kill for. this resulted in numerous awards for her debut album which, although nice enough, sounds dated only five years later. this track, from her largely ignored second album, will hopefully age a bit better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

spl2rge – scuse me

like unklejam, appear to be on the verge of big things, promotion notwithstanding. i never hold my breath on these things anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

taio cruz – i just wanna know

mario soundalike who can’t be accused of trying to create a british identity. which is fair enough. we don’t want to end up like the irish, who have to be irish all the time.