Another underground gem from the early 2000s, this time courtesy of indie hip hop label Mack Dawg Records. Despite having a very contemporary sound for its day, the group - a trio - is an obscure one. I can't find much information on them but I do know that they have an accompanying 12" featuring additional songs that I am trying to hunt down.
One and only single from Chicago indie-soul group Me' Naze and released via indie label Harvest Music in 1999. The song, which has more of a classic old skool feel, was slated to be taken from their debut album Taste Of Love, but as far as I know it was not released. I don't know if they ever did anything else.
Continuing on with forgotten and rare female R&B groups of the late 90s & early 2000s, I am now going to give props to a few decent sounding indie ones, beginning with this all-female Filipino singing quartet from the late 90s. Signed to Blacklisted Records between 1998-1999, they enjoyed some success in Toronto, Canada, but I don't know if their full-length album Ora...Mismo Right Here, Right Now was ever released. Very contemporary-sounding, they weren't as well-known as the other Filipino-American R&B group One Vo1ce (who were based out of California) but they were definitely more soulful. Among those to be impressed back then included the legendary Teddy Riley but unfortunately the sessions with him never went past the demo stage and nothing has been heard from them since.
N V So (featuring Tha Renegade) 4:11
Quit Stressin' (Rock Steelo Remix) 6:03
Quit Stressin' (Album Mix) 4:01
Can't Stop (Bonus Track) 4:49
Cheri Dennis had been doing work for Combs since the early 2000s when she provided vocals for the 2001 Bad Boy Entertainment album The Saga Continues... Unfortunately, it would be almost eight years until she would have an album of her own and even then it was not without being pushed back at least once while Combs was preoccupied, as it seems, with his new manufactured girl group Dainty Kane. Dennis' debut album was slated for release in June of 2006 but didn't see the light of day properly until 2008 when it was finally released as a physical CD. This early CD-R sampler, issued some time in 2006, features two tracks that were later cut from the final track-listing, one of which It's So Good can only be found here. I often wondered how the sound of Combs' former flagship female act Faith Evans would've progressed had she stayed with the label and Dennis' body of work is a pretty good rendition of that, vocally and musically (though on track 3 of this sampler Dennis sounds quite similar vocally to Keyshia Cole.) Just goes to show that Combs was still capable of putting out quality music in 2008. It's a shame he never gave this chick the promotion she deserved over the other lesser talented singer Cassie Ventura...
Courtesy of iAmDopeBeats Catalog, previously unreleased remixes of Mo's late 90s soundtrack cut by Flavahood and Timbaland. The original production as featured on the Why Do Fools Fall In Love? soundtrack was produced by Missy Elliott and The Dynamic Duo but these two remixes were unheard for well over a decade. A rough test copy and never intended for duplication - even for radio play - only a few of these were ever made. Off the chain completely, track 1 in particular features newly sung vocals and a rap verse...
Extremely rare promo of DC's debut album when it had the title of Bridges and featuring 3 additional tracks that were later omitted from the final track-listing in favor of hip hop tracks by Wyclef Jean and Jermaine Dupri. You're The Only One later made it on to the international re-release (though in its finished form) but Never Had A Love and Show Me went into the vault.The bulk of this cassette was produced by Dwayne Wiggins (of Tony! Toni! Toné! fame) and Tim Kelly & Bob Robinson. Though it's obviously quite different, it seems to share the same catalog# as the official cassette release. I don't believe that it is a bootleg and certainly not from a few years back when a whole bunch of unreleased DC tracks leaked online. It is not mentioned in the group's bio or in any discography. Preview the two unreleased tracks below.
Second Nature 5:10
You're The Only One 3:24
No, No, No 4:10
Tell Me 4:52
Show Me The Way 4:19
Never Had A Love 4:05
Killing Time 5:11
Show Me 3:30
My Time Has Come (Dedicated To Andretta Tillman) 4:28
*The same as No No No (Part 1) on the album and produced by Rob Fusari and Vincent Herbert
Courtesy of iAmDopeBeats Catalog, Missy Elliott's first ever recording with her former group Fayze on 12" vinyl. It was one of many songs that the group recorded before they were signed to a major label and had a limited release on 12" vinyl and cassette only in 1991. Timbaland's role here is not clear; after doing some research it is of my opinion that he and Elliott met after the group had long turned into Sista but I could be wrong. As Sista they later released one single and recorded a full-length album For All Da Sistas Around Da World but in the fashion of many other artists signed to the doomed Elektra/EastWest label, it quickly went unreleased...
Produced by Kevin Rodgers & Sean Sessome.
First Move [LP Version - Original] 3:25
First Move [Vocal Mix - A cappella] 2:11
First Move [Extended Remix - Rap] 4:29
First Move [Underground Demo] 4:42
Exclusive mixes of Norwood's third and final single to be taken from her 2001 album Full Moon by Warren 'Baby Dub' Campbell. Slightly more contemporary sounding than the piano-driven original but still retains its slow-jam structure.
Contains two remixes (Radio Remix 1 & Radio Remix 2) which are basically identical but for minor changes in instrumentation. Thanks again to Martin from Peru for this great addition to my Brandy collection.
This was Toni and Tamar's first ever recording with their three sisters in 1990. It wasn't a hit but Toni caught the attention of L.A. Reid and Babyface and later went on to sign to their newly-formed label LaFace Records as a solo artist. The Braxtons (with Tamar) regrouped as a threesome in 1996 and inked a deal with Atlantic Records, releasing their one and only studio album to date So Many Ways.Neither this song or its b-side Family appeared on the album, however an acapella mix of the title track later appeared on The Essential Toni Braxton in 2007...
After posting the 12" vinyl some years back, I am finally able to post the 2-trk promo CD. Special thanks to Martin from Peru for this rarity.
Does not include the b-side.
Good Life (Single Version) 4:11
Good Life (Extended Version) 6:20
Advance promo copy of Before Dark's debut album with an alternate title Love Story. The album was originally set to be released in 1999 but after the failure of their first two singles, it was pushed back to the following year. The original album featured 3 tracks later omitted from the final track-listing Secrets, Sweetie Pie and Ooh Boy! The later two tracks went unreleased but Secrets later appeared as a b-side cut to the single Baby in 1999. Unfortunately they are nothing special and it is plain to see why they replaced them in the end.The song Monica and the productions by Kevin 'She'kspere' Briggs were definitely better.
Jazzy-Interlude Going To The Movies 2:08
Back Around 3:35
Come Correct 4:20
Always On My Mind 4:29
It's All About You 4:26
Interlude-To The Bathroom 1:40
Sweetie Pie 3:54
Ooh Boy 4:24
Outro-Leving The Movies 1:40
Another later group to emerge following DC's permanent hiatus were South Central and Compton's Candy Hill. They garnished a lot of rave reviews - including comparisons to TLC - but thus far the above single remains to be the only significant thing that they ever did. A follow-up Spare was released to iTunes only and they have since followed fellow mid 2000s trios Missez, Dear Jayne and Bella into the R&B groups graveyard...
Juicy (Radio Edit) 4:06
Juicy (Album Version) 4:23
Juicy (Instrumental) 4:23
Juicy (Call Out Hook 1) 0:09
Juicy (Call Out Hook 2) 0:09
Juicy (Call Out Hook 3) 0:06
JS (an acronym for Johnson Sisters) was yet another duo to emerge with the onslaught of new R&B girl groups in the early 2000s. The brainchild of R. Kelly and The Isley Brothers they were Changing Faces Y2K but did not replicate their success. Signed to DreamWorks in 2003, they only ever released one single and I don't think it ever had a very wide release, just radio only from what I can tell. Compared to the others, their album is pretty mid-tempo but they do have pretty decent voices. As a whole Kelly did a good job of producing it though most of it could've done without his needless shouting in the background...
Love Angel 4:35
Ice Cream 3:23
Bye Bye 3:38
Slow Grind 3:46
Ice Cream (Remix) 3:57
Baby, Come On (Album Version) 3:28
Don't Turn Away (Interlude) 1:27
Stay (Album Version) 4:55
Handle Your Business feat. Ronald Isley 4:09
Stay Right Here 3:55
Right Here With Me 4:15
Late 90s indie soul from former TLC opening act Arika Kimble and who won MP3.com's contest for the best new urban artist in 2000. Her debut album was to be released on the independent label Ebony Records but as far as I know it never saw the light of day. Years later, she signed to the London hip hop label Stonegroove Recordings and released one split 12" with another artist Anthony Anderson.
Everything U Need (Remix) 3:26
No! No! 4:15
Everything U Need 3:51
Super-rare import of Carey's third Spanish-language song and released to the Mexican market only in 1998. At one point it was sold freely in stores such as Blockbuster in Mexico and Peru and these days fetches prices of $300 and upwards on eBay. It is one of Carey's rarest singles along with many she released to the Latin-American market in the mid to late 90s. Many included exclusive Latin remixes that weren't included on any domestic release. While most were for radio play only, to my knowledge, Mi Todo was the one and only that got an actual commercial release there. It is backed by exclusive remixes of the singer's previous song Butterfly by Brazilian artists DJ Memê and DJ Grego. A big thank you to Martin from Peru for this wonderful rarity :-)
Mi Todo 3:51
Butterfly (Meme's Extended Mix - Part 1 & 2) 8:45
Butterfly (Sambatterfly) 8:24
Butterfly (Classic Bossa Nova) 4:14
My All 3:53 If anybody has the further Mexican promo CD featuring remixes of Mi Todo and is interested in trading, contact mehere. Any audio rips sent to me have to be in 320kbps (mp3) or higher (please don't send me the 128kbps rips that have been circulating online for years) and must include authentic full scans of everything.
Proposed second single from former Eternal member Kéllé Bryan and was to follow the release of Higher Than Heaven in 1999. Both the single and Bryan's then-forthcoming album Breakfast In Bed were scrapped following her diagnosis with Lupus and then the management company 1st Avenue went into a crisis stage and she and many other artists on their roster found themselves out of work permanently. Sadly, as with her previous release, the above song is nothing to write home about. While Higher Than Heaven sounded like an Eternal reject from the mid-90s, I Wanna Know sounds like a Billie Piper or Atomic Kitten cast-off. It seems that her management couldn't decide on whether to market her to pop fans or as a clone of Michelle Gayle. Regardless, I would've still liked to have heard her complete album...
If anybody is lucky enough to own the 3-trk single which features I Wanna Know (Sunship Mix) and My Heart Wants To Be Where You Are and feels like trading or selling, please feel free to contact me here. The same also goes for anybody who owns a copy of her debut album or a possible sampler.
Following in the footsteps of Louise, Bryan was the second member of UK girl group Eternal to go solo in 1999. Rumor has it she was forced out of the group and allegedly given her marching orders via fax. Whilst the Bennett sisters carried on as a duo, Bryan signed a solo-deal with Mercury Records and released her first single Higher Than Heaven in 1999. While her former band mates tried to reinvent themselves as the UK's answer to Destiny's Child, Bryan stayed firmly stuck in the fast - or at least on the above release which sounds like an Eternal cast off from the mid 90s. Not fantastic but I am curious as to how the rest of her album might've sounded; the b-side track Two Hearts is not half bad. Though it did enjoy a certain amount of success, sadly due to Bryan's diagnosis with Lupus, plans for any further singles and an album were eventually scrapped and she soon went on to become yet another number with the collapse of the management company 1st Avenue in the late 90s.
Higher Than Heaven 3:36
Love Revolution 4:47
Two Hearts 3:42
Higher Than Heaven 3:36
Higher Than Heaven (De Funk Club Mix) 6:03
Higher Than Heaven (Ignorants Mix) 4:21
Higher Than Heaven (Synth Strings, The Video) 3:29
Anybody who is lucky enough to own anything further from this artist - especially a promotional copy of her debut album or a possible sampler - and is interested in trading or selling, please contact me here for possible negotiations.
Not a big fan of this group but alas they are a necessary evil for my early 2000s R&B groups anthology. Aimed more at teen pop fans than the urban market, they were probably in the top 5 of popular female groups back then until they lost a member (Naturi Naughton), gained a lot of bad press for it and never fully recovered. The group's second album tanked in the charts and a third album was shelved completely after one single. The two remaining members (Adrienne Bailon & Kiely Williams) later went on to join the Disney Channel group The Cheetah Girls. During the height of their popularity, 3LW sold 1.3 million copies of their debut album in the US and it was popular enough at one point to warrant a special "Limited Edition" with a bonus disc featuring three b-side tracks. One of them Never Let Go was produced by Kevin 'She'kspere' Briggs and originally featured on the Down To Earth soundtrack (though the version featured is the remix, not the original.) The album mostly consists of teen-pop songs with a slight R&B edge. Comparisons to Destiny's Child were lofty at best and the lead singer's voice is extremely grating. Rodney Jerkins' female group So Plush (who were also signed to the Epic label at the same time as these girls) were definitely better.
No More (Baby I'ma Do Right) 4:24
Is You Feelin' Me 4:17
Playas Gon' Play 4:44
Gettin Too Heavy 4:38
I'm Gonna Make You Miss Me 4:37
Not This Time 3:20
More Than Friends (That's Right) 3:54
'Til I Say So 3:58
Crush On You 4:00
I Can't Take It [No More Remix] 4:26
Never Let Go 4:06
I Think You Should Know 3:18
Along with Hinda Hicks, Dina Carroll was another great British diva who lost a whole album in the 90s. This time it was purportedly the fault of the management company 1st Avenue which, for unknown reasons, saw most of their artists dropped from their labels. Carroll was unfortunately one of the unlucky ones caught up in this along with Eternal, The Honeyz, former EastEnders star Michelle Gayle and quite a few others. The ill-fated project spawned three singles, the Rhett Lawrence-produced One, Two, Three, Say You Love Me and Without Love beforeits cancellation in 1999. It had more of an R&B direction than her previous work though prior to the release of the latter single, the record company had retooled it to appeal more to dance fans. Such a waste but the early 2000s was probably the worst time to be a female soloist in the UK given the obsession with boy bands, girl bands, 2-step garage rubbish and bloody Robbie Williams.
Without Love 3:37
Say You Love Me 3:53
One, Two, Three 4:04
Straight To My Soul 4:20
Son Of A Preacher Man 2:48
Good To Me 3:52
Let It Go 3:33
On & On 4:21
I'll Be There For You 4:58
Livin' For The Weekend '98 3:48
Love Of My Life 4:08
Tunisian-born Hicks first came to prominence in the UK with her eponymous debut Hinda in 1998. She enjoyed moderate but acclaimed success and was nominated for both a MOBO and Brit Award for her work. An early morph of Alicia Keys and Chanté Moore, she was an extremely talented vocalist but sadly due to lack of promotion by the label Island Records her sophomore release was eventually moth-balled. It spawned one single, the Brandy & Monica-esque My Remedy which stalled at number 19 in the UK charts. Though much of the blame for her failure must go to the record label for simply neglecting to give her enough promotion, co-existing at a time when the UK charts were overpopulated with The Spice Girls, boybands and 2-step garage rubbish was never going to be easy. A third album was released in 2004 by which then she had gone totally independent.
Probably one of the best voices to come out of Britain in the 90s alongside Dina Carroll. Such a shame that their record labels failed them...
Our Destiny 4:11
My Remedy 4:57
Killing Me Inside 4:20
Show Me (Whatcha Got) 4:33
Give U My Heart 4:29
Do What You Gotta Do 3:46
The Grass Ain't Greener 3:41
He's Out Of My Life 3:52
Don't You Let Nobody (Put You Down) 3:52
Everything To Me 7:37* *includes a hidden track, the Frank Sinatra cover "That's Life" after 30 seconds of silence.
Further unreleased music from Elektra records, this time from Missy Elliott's former protegee Nicole (Wray), who, along with Gina Thompson, Lil' Mo and Tamia, had an entire album "shelved" by them in the early 2000s. Wray's 1998 debut Make It Hot was certified gold but her follow-up album "Elektric Blue" was thrown into the recycling bin after just one single, the DJ Eddie F.-produced I'm Lookin. The album, along with Gina Thompson's sophomore release If Only You Knew, was scheduled to be released via Elliott's own vanity label The Goldmind Inc. in 2001. As far as I am aware, only this 4-trk sampler featuring snipped versions of I'm Lookin,' Bangin', Wanna Cruise and No Joke was ever made available but word around
Another short-lived trio that emerged on Geffen records in 2005. They released one single "Love Song" featuring the late rapper Pimp C. (formally of the UGK) and then other than the odd few songs that leaked to the internet in order to generate a buzz for their then up and coming album, nothing else has been heard from them since. Not even a mix-tape...
Bears a slight resemblance to DC3's song "Cater 2 U" but is marginally more risque...