dirty martini

old music for new people

2008: the newcomers January 3, 2009

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2008 was not only a year of comebacks but a year when, contrary to the declining viability of the music industry as a means by which to make an above average living, new artists emerged and those waiting in the wings made their debut.

and nkotb have been gone so long they count as a new act in my book.

these are my favourites of 2008.

download 2008 newcomers

candy hill – head gone

don’t know much about these girls. teairra mari featuring on this track is interesting. she might be better off joining them than trying to relaunch her solo career. i miss the days of tlc, swv and xscape.

jazmine sullivan – need you bad

have been hearing about this girl for a few years now. it seems like she had a failed contract a few years back which explain why there are so many tracks floating around that aren’t on the album.

jennifer hudson – all dressed up in love

i wonder if jennifer can ever really recover from what has happened, i don’t know. she was great in ‘sex and the city’ and i expect her to push forward with the acting now moreso than the music. somehow i think she will feel that is more appropriate and the accompanying promotional activity will be less about her and more about the characters.

karina pasian – 16 at war

born in 1991 – eek! not a typical def jam artist and i mean that as a compliment. her debut ‘first love’ didn’t exactly set the world alight but she has plenty of time and it was no reflection on the quality of the music.

michelle williams – unexpected

michelle’s mainstream debut was hotly anticipated as a the album to finally shut down beyonce or a damp squib depending on which camp you fell into. as it is, she didn’t even outsell kelly rowland.

nkotb – 2 in the morning

not strictly new artists, and would never have seen the light of day if they had been, truth be told. this was the track from ‘the block’ that showed their progression. i’m going to see them later this month…i will try to exercise some restraint but can’t promise anything.

santogold – shove it

seems to get a bit narky when labelled a hiphop/r&b artist. she isn’t, and i don’t care for most of her music but i liked this reggae track since i heard it on C4’s Transmission.

solange – sandcastle disco

sol-angel? nothing really that angelic about having a baby at 17, if we’re being picky. if beyonce had released this album, however, everyone would have lapped it up. it’s much better than her own.

stephanie mckaye – this letter

not to be confused with stephanie kay, wildchild of degrassi junior high. i wonder how many people reading this are old enough to get that…anyway, i hadn’t heard of her until her second album ‘tell it like it is’ dropped in 2008. kind of retrosoul/neo-soul fusion.

uness – woman got culture

his official arrival is taking forever…i could have put him on this list for the last few years. is it the state of the music industry or something else? how next selection can rush out a weak artist like cassie but sit on uness is beyond me.

 

remix me baby November 7, 2008

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there are very few tracks that I will have mutiple versions of on my ipod. seems like a waste of space.

these are all exceptions. they’re either very different form the original, resung or i just couldn’t choose between mixes…

download 90s r&b remixes

brownstone – if you love me – characters funk remix

destiny’s child – say my name – timbaland remix

groove theory – tell me – 6 karat hip hop mix

jade – don’t walk away – mack daddy walk

mariah carey – dreamlover – theo’s club joint

mary j blige – you remind me – daddy hip hop remix

mokenstef – he’s mine – big ham remix

monica – like this and like that – full crew remix

shola ama – who’s loving my baby – ignorants remix

swv – weak – bam jam’s jeep mix

tlc – creep – untouchables remix

 

90s r&b: long lost midtempos September 15, 2008

90s r&b albums were full of midtempos, even though it was usually the ballads or club bangers that got released as singles.

so, there are plenty of quality tunes that never really saw the light of day.

download 90s r&b midtempos

assorted phlavors – lovin’ on the d.l

the girls only released one album, and managed not to overdo the ballads. arrived at the same time as allure, who were more successful. well, they made it to three albums.

brandy – as long as you’re here

this is from brandy’s 1994 debut. like so many other r&b albums of its era, it had some tiresome interludes and so you often didn’t make it past ‘sunny day’, which is a shame as there were a couple of cool midtempos.

brownstone – revenge

like 3t, brownstone suffered somewhat from the michael jackson effect. believe it or not at one point he was considered a bit safe…anyway, by the time of the girls’ second album they appeared to have shaken off the worthiness that plagued parts of their debut.

braxtons – girl on the side

the fact that the sisters would only make one album was a foregone conclusion. spin-off family groups have limited success for a reason. if any were better than their famous sibling, they would have been the one with the career.

changing faces – am i wasting my time

less sleazy than their other earlier offerings. they marked their territory early with ‘stroke you up’, but could have had much more interesting careers if they’d switched to an A&R with a clue.

janet jackson – where are you now

janet only really started doing midtempos in the 90s as far as I can remember. this is the janet remixed version, which is far superior.

kreuz – crush on you

kreuz, in true copycat brit style, tried to emulate r.kelly with tunes like ‘slap and tickle’. this is so much better. these days, emulating r.kelly is best left to the comedians.

mariah carey – slipping away

not strictly an album track, but should have been as its better than the ballads on ‘daydream’. love this early 90s style mariah.

mokenstef – it happens

i always thought ‘he’s mine’ was a cute song, but didn’t have high hopes for the album. this is a really nice track, that could have made a great single.

shola ama – can’t have you

shola is the uk queen of midtempo soul, when she isn’t being remixed for the uk garage crew. that late 90s/early 00s style has been sounding tired of late but with the next decade approaching it will probably undergo a revival.

swv – coming home

swv’s first album saw many tracks released and remixed, but not this one. i think a remix would have lost the point, so its good that they left well enough alone.

xscape – is my living in vain

xscape don’t have a plethora of great album tracks in their back catalogue, their strongest tracks tended to get released, but this is the essence of their debut.

 

i’m not planning on going solo… February 11, 2008

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liar!

in every successful group there is a beyonce. either the best vocalist or the best manipulator, or daddy’s little girl. but divas in training beware: for every beyonce, there is a nicole scherzinger.

download here

beyonce – suga mama

it’s a good job bee actually did have talent cos daddy would have pushed her to the front no matter what. its funny but i actually prefer her voice in the early dc days, and i definitely prefer dc4 harmonies.

bobby brown – i really love you girl

not so much a solo choice rather than being kicked out of new edition. still, he was so young it was a bit like when i was kicked out of the brownies, albeit on a, cough, more global scale. so what? except i was shown the red card for locking brown owl in a cupboard, not boozing and having an illegitimate child…

coko – sunshine

well, who can blame coko if the rumours of swv’s financial ruin were true. it’s a shame it didn’t work out…i think the swv harmonies played a bigger role than she thought.

diana ross – upside down

the original diva, hence ‘diana ross and the supremes’. funny how the weakest singer in a group can overcome that obstacle, to become the biggest star. all it took was a large amount of deluded self-belief and some willing lackeys.

george michael – too funky

the least likely to be accused of letting his ego push aside more talented group members – it was an accepted fact that andrew ridgeley did little more than shake a tambourine and look cute in hawaiian gear.

justin timberlake – last night

anyone who says they saw the star potential of curly headed justin in his n*sync days has selective memory. i was surprised such an ugly group got a deal and didn’t think any had longevity. imagine explaining britney’s dazzling influence to an alien in 2008 – ‘…and britney was this clean cut, wholesome, family loving christian whose star power catapulted him to solo fame…’

lionel richie – serves you right

love lionel richtea. i might have to do a whole post on him just so i can put up that picture. oh screw it, if anyone is wondering why at the top of this post there is a picture of lionel richie with a biscuit (cookie) in place of his ‘fro…this is why.

morris day – love addition

morris day really wanted to be prince. he did ok. he never really left the time.

raphael saadiq – get involved

the transition from tony toni tone was fairly seamless – i’m not always 100% which tracks belong to who. same sound, same voice…could have just kept the other on the payroll? that’s rarely the point though is it…

ray parker jr – a woman needs love

ray already had a touch of the dianas, changing the name of his group, already ‘raydio’, to ‘ray parker jr and raydio’. so no one should have been surprised when he became a fully fledged solo artist. i hope there was someone else called ray left in that group he named after himself…

t-boz – touch myself

tlc’s was a well documented financial struggle, which allegedly saw laface CEO pebbles tie the girls into a fruitless contract. t-boz seized an opportunity to capitalise on crazysexycool but the point was, none of tlc were vocally outstanding, but together they provided contrast – the gravelly voiced t-boz, angelic chilli and cute rapper left eye. individually…nothing special.

terry ellis – what did i do to you

if you blinked in 1995, you could have missed this solo foray from ms ellis. en vogue were back together faster than roadrunner once it became clear that their group appeal far ouweighed their solo potential. they attempted to drop troublemaker dawn robinson over the years, with varying degrees of success.

 

90s r&b girl bands: no hit wonders November 17, 2007

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how many girl groups did en vogue inspire?

don’t even go there with that spice girls theory. watching them on tv tonight was slightly embarrassing. the spice girls emerged before reality tv laid the music industry bare. three of them would have been lucky to make it into girls aloud and the thought of any of them competing against leona lewis is cringeworthy.

however you feel about reality music tv, it does give you the opportunity to create careers for genuine talent. its just that some people distribute their vote using the same principles as they might donate their spare change to charity and vote for losers like michelle mcmanus and taylor hicks.

there should be a reality show for anonymous ex boy and girl band members…simon!

check the a list

b list

and c list

download here

1 of the girls – do da what

this cleveland group helped then-fledgling producer gerald levert jump on the new jill swing bandwagon driven by swv and jade – and then he fell off.

bitches with problems – two minute brother

not exactly the classiest group on this list, these girls tried to outdo the boys and its not much of a surprise that their two albums sunk. their short lived time in the spotlight did launch one career however – this track’s video was the first from uber director hype williams.

cleopatra – come and get me

brummie poppets who became very famous, very quickly and disappeared in a puff of smoke, possibly quite literally, as disney was involved. middle sister and lead singer cleopatra is set to release a solo project imminently

eve – groove of love

that’s eve as in ebony vibe everlasting not as in eve the slightly butch rapper. ebony vibe everlasting…good god…sometimes the 90s were just a bit too worthy.

ghost town djs – my boo

miami bass tune which was so unlike anything else at the time. the ghost town dj’s were actually the producers – who were the girls?

good 2 go – never satisfied

new jill swing group from LA who were – gasp – white. perhaps they would have fared better fifteen years on as back in 1992, no one quite got them.

the gyrlz – if it’s games you’re playing

the gyrlz were terri, monica and tara. later the group became a duo after tara left, and has minor success throughout the 90s. the gyrlz debut and only cd is ultra rare and worth £ on ebay if you can track it down.

jazzyfatnastees – the lie

you can hardly call this duo a girl band in the traditional sense, rather, they’re here to demonstrate a different approach. more focus on lyrics than style and club bangers.

phajja – so long

late 90s girl band, no distinguishing features. still, the internet was live and kicking and they did in fact release two albums so the lack of info and availability of their music is a shame…

pure soul – wait for you

many people remember music channel mainstay ‘we must be in love’…and that’s it.

shades – serenade

classier girl group who rose from the ashes of new jill swing.

terri and monica – intentions

the sequel to ‘the gyrlz’ minus one member. i remember their music being critically acclaimed but success was still not forthcoming.

 

90s r&b – i collaborate therefore i am August 22, 2007

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there’s power in numbers. in fact, the perfect hook-up with the hottest property can launch (or relaunch) a lacklustre career.

in the mid 90s, duets and artist collaborations became less of an event. naturally, you would collaborate with labelmates, but a strategic feature spot could mean opening up your music to a whole new audience. the most popular hook up was r&b and hiphop, but some puff daddy collabos in the late 90s saw hiphop push the boundaries by mixing it up with rock bands, a trend jay-z has carried into the 00s.

so, for the r&b girls and boys looking forsome instant street, the most ubiquitous featured rappers of the 90s? jay-z, ll cool j and biggie by a mile, although a young foxy brown gave them a run for their money.

and if a hiphop act wanted to smooth things down? total, swv and mary j blige at your service.

the idea hasn’t slowed down at all, in fact, the standard r&b album has at least four collaborations and some albums (timbaland) are built entirely around that principle.

90s hook ups – download here

blackstreet and swv – can’t get you out of my mind

two of the biggest r&b bands of the 90s – worked so well they did it twice.

blaque and destiny’s child – she ain’t got that boom

how much hair can you fit in one room? one more member and they could have been an 80s jheri curl soul act. a subdued performance from beyonce on this one.

busta rhymes and zhane – its a party

not the most obvious hook-up to spring to mind but it worked.

jay-z and foxy brown – sunshine

jay-z and foxy collaborated so often you gave up trying to work out who was guesting for who.

junior mafia and aaliyah – i need you tonight

a mishmash of r&b, hiphop and 80s throwback hook and sample. shouldn’t have worked quite so well.

keith sweat and kut klose – get up on it

inevitable feature spot. on occasion the whole r&b don with cooing girl group could seem a little mysogynistic. there were worse examples though.

ll cool j and boyz ii men – hey lover

ll likes it both ways – guest features and inviting others on to his tunes, I mean.

mase and total – what you want

individually, not great. together it worked.

method man and mary j blige – you’re all i need to get by

one of the originals and a good example of how an r&b feature spot doesn’t need to water down the proceedings.

smooth and 2pac – p.y.t.

proto jay-z and foxy. 2pac must have rated young ms stokes as he didn’t guest spot with just anyone.

 

90s r&b soundtrack gems August 14, 2007

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 r&b soundtracks rarely carry the big hits of larger budget films – for a while now they’ve bought up extra material from established artists’ album sessions or provided a valuable way in for newcomers.

there seems to have been a shift in the way that soundtracks are purchased. back in the 70s and 80s we bought them after seeing a film to recapture the moment – grease and dirty dancing spring immediately to mind – but now we often buy them before or even with no intention of seeing the movie. i probably own at least five soundtracks to films i’ve never seen.

so here are some extras from 90s artists that all too often get lost.

90s soundtrack bonus cutsdownload here

sunset park – aaliyah – are you ready – 1996

despite being released the same year as her timbaland-produced groundbreaking sophomore album, this gently bumping effort was clearly an offcut form her earlier debut.

money talks – swv – tell me how you want it – 1997

swv were soundtrack veterans by this point, having already contributed similarly slinky slow jams to waiting to exhale (all night long) and hav plenty (where you are).

murder was the case – jodeci – come up to my room – 1995

i actually prefer jodeci’s mid-fast tempo tracks more than their sometimes overblown ballads, and wish they’d made more deeply sexy joints like this one…

dangerous minds – aaron hall – curiosity – 1995

being part of the same set as the huge ‘gangsta’s paradise’ was either a blessing (sales) or a curse (overshadowed).

soul food – tenderoni – baby i – 1997

one hit wonders tenderoni con ributed this much-loved track to one of the decade’s biggest soundtracks. should have been a launchpad to bigger and better things.

the best man – allure – when the shades go down – 1998

hard to believe this was an offcut from their debut as its probably stronger than 90% of the tracks on there…

high school high – faith evans – i just can’t – 1996

reminds me of the summer when r&b went global, and tupac was killed…

hav plenty – jon b and coko – keep it real – 1998

got a lot of airplay at the time, i loved this and splashed out £££ on the import.

the nutty professor – monica – ain’t nobody – 1996

one of monica’s better offerings after her strong debut, featuring treach of naughty by nature.

waiting to exhale – tlc – this is how it works – 1995

a new tlc track was a rarity and after crazysexycool, much in demand.