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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Monica: Made [The Mixtape] (Promo CDr) (2007)

Unofficial Monica from 2007 and featuring a selection of leftover tracks from her fourth album The Makings Of Me. Admittedly, I wasn't really a fan of this disc; it was a lot more 'ghetto' than her previous work and while this style may have worked for a lot of the newer artists, it didn't really work for her. At only 10 tracks in length, it was, Arnold's shortest album yet but she soon became one of the new generation of commercial artists with a mix-tape release under their belt. Compiled and self-released by Atlanta DJ Greg Street, it features unreleased contributions from Jazze Pha (Pulling Up/Born & Raised), Missy Elliott (No Stoppin'), Christopher 'Tricky' Stewart (So In Love) and Scott Storch (Ain't Nothing.) The highlight is undoubtedly the excellent No Stoppin', which was later recorded (and sadly scrapped for a second time around) by former American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino... 

Not chopped, screwed or tagged!

Intro 0:57
Pulling Up 3:35
No Stoppin' 4:42
Why Lie 3:09
So In Love 4:35
Sideline Ho [Carl Moe/Greg Street Remix] 3:52
Born & Raised 2:38
Ain't Nothing 2:52
Misery 3:46*
Dozen Roses [Remix] 3:23
6 O'Clock 2:00
Sideline Ho [Acappella] 3:47

Hear it here.

*Alternate version of "Thanks For The Misery"

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Crystal Sierra: Morena (Advance) (Virgin Records, 2000)

Yet another shelved female R&B singer from the early 2000s, this time on Virgin Records and a real example of a Latin R&B singer as apposed to the poppy fluff popularized by Jennifer Lopez, Joy Enriquez and others like them. Self-described as a "Salsa Rap" artist, she was the Mary J. Blige of Latin music; unfortunately her album Morena was shelved after only one single (Playa No More featuring Styles Skillz.) Featuring contributions from Swizz Beatz (Get Up), Cuban Link (Thank U Mi Amor), Darkchild (Promises, Could It Be) and Terror Squad (Caliente), J-Lo only wished she sounded as good as her. I don't know why it was scrapped but perhaps at the time Virgin Records simply couldn't afford to release it after squandering an astronomical $120 million on another outdated diva Mariah Carey. Still there was a niche in the market for Sierra's type of music (or at least a very poppy, watered-down version of it), so a few years later they signed Mexican singer Thalia...

Playa No More ft. Styles Skillz 3:51
Get Up ft. Cross 4:20
Thank U Mi Amor (Rap by Cuban Link) 4:05
What Ya Wanna Do 3:34
Come Over 3:45
Trying To Fit In 5:58
Promises 3:58
Could It Be 4:29
Hold Me Down 4:03
Damelo 3:19
Caliente ft. Terror Squad 4:06
Playa No More [KC Porter Spanish Version] 6:16*

*Also features Playa No More (No Rap Version) on the same track, hence the 6:16 time frame. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Nia: I'm Not The One (K.E.S. 2002)

Another hidden contemporary R&B group from the early 2000s, again based out of Georgia. Sadly, I don't know anything about them but for whatever reason their album - thus far their one and only - somehow got lost in the Gospel category. I don't know if it ever spawned any singles but a video to the title track I'm Not The One is available to view on You Tube...

Intro    0:32   
Im Not The One    3:54
Behave Yourself    3:50   
Lets Dance    3:45   
Interlude    0:42   
Girl Time    4:25   
Sherlockin    3:53   
One Day I Might    4:24   
Here We Go    4:27   
Seasons    4:05   
Interlude    1:02   
Dream    5:04   
Outro    0:11

XS: S/T (Sweettone Movies & Music, 2003)

Following in the footsteps of One Vo1ce and Epic Voices, here is a further Pinay R&B act from the Golden State. Incorporating more of a smooth R&B sound, they aren't quite as urban as Ora, but are certainly less poppy than One Vo1ce. If you liked the group Premiere in the 90s then it might possibly be your cup of tea. It is thus far the only thing they have done together.  

Waiting Fool 4:06
Each Tear I Cry 4:35
Don't Come Knockin' 4:02
Haterism 4:22
Chivalry 4:13
I Need A Romeo 3:34
Who Am I To You 4:11
Who's Is It 4:50
Catch 4:03
Feelin' Real Good 3:57
Just Because I Love You 4:14
Don't Slow It Down 4:38
It's You I Love 4:28
Ain't Rushin' It 3:39

Listen or buy here.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Diadi: Face The Music (Hits Happen Entertainment, 2001)

Another hidden indie duo from the early 2000s, this time based out of Oakland, CA. Their music isn't exactly urban-contemporary but might possibly fit in to the neo soul category; it is mainly smooth R&B with synth and old skool influences but there are quite a few decent uptempo cuts, most notably track 2 which uses a sample from the Wu-Tang-Clan's 1997 song Triumph. Unfortunately, they are possibly the most underground I've stumbled upon yet; outside of a few hits in the U.S. Trademark and Patents Office in 2001, there is a complete lack on information on them...

Broken (Interlude) 1:44
Cruel 2 Me (Remix) 4:04
Sorry 4:35
Lov'N You 3:58
he Loves Me 3:31
Searchin' 4 Love 3:47
To Love Again 3:35
Don't Wanna Be (Interlude) 0:55
Boyfriend 3:49
Abstinence 3:45
Cruel 2 Me 4:22
Broken 2 3:42
What's Next_ 3:47
Lov'N You (No Drums) 3:51 (Hidden)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Eboné Soul: I'm Coming Home (LAP Records, 2000)

Another soulful indie duo from the early 2000s, this time from Detroit, Michigan. Unfortunately, again there is little to no information on them but the good news is their album has since been picked up by The Orchard for digital distribution. Their music is contemporary R&B with soul and hip hop influences but with a slightly harder edge than many of the others I've posted so far. My only complaint is, at 34 minutes long, it is rather a short project...

Intro 0:24
Some Things Never Change 3:19
I Want You 3:40
I'm Coming Home 4:36
I Wanna Know If You're Sexual 3:39
In Love With A Gangsta 3:53
Girl Night Out 3:15
That Voice 3:44
Sinister 4:17
It's You 4:01

Listen here.

Split 2nd: Where Did Our Love Go? (A♭ Flat Records, 1999)

Out of Pensacola, FL., another rare duo from the late 90s. Not really urban-crossover - mainly  smooth R&B with gospel and classic soul influences - but some nice uptempo cuts all the same, notably tracks 3 and 9...certainly up there with C-Nario and Shades Of Ebony as a very decent sounding old skool act regardless. Sadly, there is no information on them anywhere...

Life Is For The Living 3:33
My Love Is Good 4:03
Is It Really Like That 4:31
Where Did Our Love Go 6:03
There's Where I Want You To Put It 4:34
Yes I Am Ready 5:53
Steppin' 6:19
Nothing Could Be Better 4:50
Do It All For Love 4:28
Life Is For The Living (Outro) 2:16

Karisma: Turn It Up (Promo CDr) (High Velocoty Entertainment, 200x)

A further female R&B group from the windy city and put together and managed by the same people behind an earlier group I posted For Eternity. Again, no no full-length project or even a single ever came about but they do have a CD-R demo which I present above. While For Eternity was more of an R&B group, this quartet was aimed more at mainstream pop audiences. A few songs sound like they were influenced by The Spice Girls' earlier work but it is mostly uptempo R&B pop in the vein of 3LW. Again, production on at least one track (4) comes from Maurice Joshua. While on For Eternity's album he seemed to stick to his usual house format here at least he seemed to be experimenting more with mainstream R&B music. A good group but sadly many of the tracks are between 2 and 3 minutes long...

Little Of This A Lot Of That    2:36   
I Want You Baby    2:42   
Over You    2:17    1
Gotta Know    1:56   
Turn It Up    2:23   
I Remember    2:30   
Didn't Have To Lie To Me    3:07   
What Is Love    2:40   
Hard To Get    2:46   
For You    2:50   
Let Go Of My Heart    3:34   
Dance With Me    2:33   
All About Me    2:14   
Not What You Say    2:59   
Reflections    3:29

Milenia: Our Story (Self-Released, 2005)

Sisqo had LovHer, Musiq had Aaries but not many people know about these 3 sisters who were first brought to prominence by Prince in the early 2000s. They were all his former backing vocalists, most notably during his Hit N Run Tour in 2001 and also on the album The Rainbow Children. Sadly their album Our Story was only ever self-released but the good news is, it is still available to purchase digitally. Featuring production from Prince (5, 10) and former New Power Generation member Kirk Johnson, it is a soulful blend of contemporary R&B, electro-funk and gospel. Such a shame that these girls didn't get the same promotion that his current flavor of the week 3rdeyegirl did...

No Can Do 4:17
Magic 3:50
Dance with Milenia 3:47
Forget About It 3:40
Promise 4:45
For What It's Worth 4:07
Mike (With the Light Brown Eyes) 4:20
Come Too Far 4:30
Turn It Over 4:40
No Can Do (Remix) 4:02

Listen to the album here.

For Eternity: S/T (Promo CDr) (High Velocity Entertainment, 2003)

Following in the footsteps of C-Nario, here's another female trio from the Windy City that was active during the early 2000s. They were managed and put together by Chicago-based company High Velocity Entertainment but I don't think that their debut album Share My World was ever released. While C-Nario's music was  rooted firmly in the classic/old skool sound, these girls were destined more for the urban contemporary market but aside from this CD-R and a very ancient Tripod webpage (that is astonishingly still active) they sadly never went anywhere. No credits for the tracks but at least one (6) was produced by Maurice Joshua...

No,No,No 5:05
Let Me Know 4:03
Curious 4:48
Tell Me 4:42
I Can't Go Back 5:47
You Don't Need Somebody 5:04
Movin' On 4:51
Feelin' 4:47
Tonight 4:50
Turn You On 4:00

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Shanica: Wishing Well (Rayz Up Records, 2001)

Early musical venture from Chicago, IL singer Shanica (Bell.) Recorded when she was in her teens, she has since dedicated her life to serving God and is now a practicing minister. The album, released via Rayz-Up Records in 2001, is mostly smooth R&B with a few club bangers...

Make Believe (Intro) 1:56
From Tha Club 3:31
Time 4:26
Haven't I? (Always Been There) 3:22
Someone To Trust 4:18
Never 3:47
Wishing Well 3:42
Don't Say You Will Feat. KoKo 3:23
Come A Little Closer Feat. Mike B. 4:19
Like That (Interlude) 2:08
U Do Somethin' 2 Me 2:56
Speakeasy 4:16
It Must Be Love 4:33
Keep Me Movin' Feat. Tell P. & DJ Baddmix 3:01
Love Jones (Ready & Willing) 4:29
Should I? 4:00
Save The World 3:03
Make Believe (Outro) 1:55

Friday, August 21, 2015

Anisha Nicole: 19 (Base Hit Records, 2005)

For being an independent artist signed to her mother's vanity label, they really managed to pull out all the stops for this album. Featuring well-put together contributions from big name producers like DJ Premier, Full Force and Vincent Herbert, it is pretty much in line with many major-label releases at the time by such artists as Beyonce and Amerie. Vince's Hang It Up bears more than a passing resemblance to his work with former Universal R&B group Famil and DJ Premier's One Track Mind has his trademark beat and bass-heavy sound. Jumping on the mid 2000s reggaeton bandwagon, Collie Budz (referred to here as "CollieBird") joins her on track 3 while former So So Def-affiliated rapper Da Brat spits some verses on track 6. All in all a pretty decent take on a mainstream R&B album, even if the big names were simply brought for her. Her earlier songs recorded under a different alias No Means No, Let's Go & I Don't Care are not included. 

Intro "19" 1:17
19 3:02
Doin' The Damn Thing 3:18
Wind Your Waist (Featuring CollieBird) 3:08
Somethin' I Just Can't Hide 3:59
Hey You (Featuring Da Brat) 3:35
One Track Mind 3:44
Should've Known Better 3:25
Hang It Up 3:45
Doin' It Well 3:35
Stay 3:15
Love Me 4:01
Don't Talk To Me 3:16
Brand New 3:23
Ooooooo We 3:06

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

C'lanae: I'm Ready (Wright Entertainment Inc., 2003)

More under the radar R&B, this time hailing from Minneapolis, but had one single Incomplete make it to number 10 on the Hot 100 R&B single chart in 2003. The song, which was very R.Kelly-ish, was a duet with fellow indie R&B singer E'Andre.The album itself is mostly an upbeat one although the production does get a bit heavy on some songs...

Intro 0:07
Uh Oh (featuring Don-P & Nase) 3:41
Was I Good Enough 4:05
Anything 4:15
All I Do 5:17
Close My Eyes 4:14
Interlude 0:36
Incomplete 4:18
Can't Stop 4:00
I Could B 4:04
I.H.U. 3:51
I'm Ready 3:29

T'Boo: No Limits [JP Retail] (Sun Brain, 1999)

Rare indie soul from out the UK and produced by the same people who remixed Mary J. Blige's 2002 song Dance For Me for the European market. A blend of R&B and G-Funk, the artist was contemporary enough to appeal to the urban-crossover market at the time and yet still retained an air of UK sophistication about her. Sadly, I don't know much about her but I believe she also went by the name Vianne at one point and released one single Rush Me on 12" vinyl. Her album was not released in the UK but can be found as a Japanese import...

Rush Me 4:53
Should I,Should I 4:17
U Ain't Da Ish 4:22
Diggy Down 4:41
U Didn't Want My Luv 1:04
No Limits 4:56
Holdin' Out On Me 4:37
Not Happy 4:45
Crazy 4:19
Lovin' Gesture 4:26
Keep On... 3:26
1-800 My Luv(Garage Mix) 5:30
U Ain't Da Ish(Club Dub) 4:22
Rush Me(Instrumental) 4:53

Sharon Hall: If You Really Want It (Self-Released, 2000)

More off-the-radar R&B, this time out of Pasadena, CA and entirely written, produced and released by the artist herself. Very 80s in appearance but the content is quite contemporary for its day, a blend of urban-crossover, smooth R&B and G-Funk.

Puttin' It On 4:19
Sex On Your Mind 4:16
If You Really Want It 3:31
Tired 4:23
Move On 5:02
He's All Over Me 3:56
Where Is Your Woman 3:47
It Ain't My Style 3:55
You Taught Me How To Love Again 4:50
All I Could Say 4:27
Think About It 4:38

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Meshe: S/T (Advance CD) (Relativity Records, 1998)

Another abandoned project, this time via Relativity Records and Sony's Epic division in the late 90s. Unfortunately, I know nothing about the singer (pronounced Me'Shay) but she released two singles Love To Love You and Thinking About You in 1998/1999. The Donna Summer cover is probably the most widely known, especially the remix featuring Thugged Out. The album, which is a mixture of classic and 90s hip hop soul, is virtually impossible to find and features a keyboard appearance by the legendary Stevie Wonder on track 8...

Intro 1:05
Makin' Me Feel 4:09
Love To Love You Baby 3:52
Thinking About You 3:48
All I Want 4:03
Tell Me What You Want 3:59
Yes I Can 6:03
All Because Of You 3:47
It's Over Now 3:54
2 O'Clock In The Morning 4:25
So Simple 3:05
Outro 1:05

Beverly: Heart & Soul (Advance) (Yab Yum/Elektra, 1999)

While Babyface's label LaFace led the way when it came to contemporary R&B in the 90s, not many people know that his wife Tracey E. Edmonds also had a small piece of the action. Setting up Yab Yum Records with her brother Michael in the mid 90s, the label was responsible for a handful of semi-popular acts back then, the most successful being Caucasian R&B singer Jon B. Unfortunately this impressive artist, former backing singer Bevely Crowder, was not one of them. Unfortunately she came at a time when the demands for another female R&B singer weren't exactly pressing. Between the release of Cheryl 'Coko'

Friday, August 14, 2015

Sunday: S/T (Advance CD) (Capitol/Better Place Records, 2000)

Mariah had Allure but few people know that Nippy herself also mentored a girl group during the late 90s. True, they didn't achieve the degree of success as Mariah's girls did - they only ever released one single and their album went sadly unreleased - but their music definitely belongs up there with some of the best that the early

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lef Phyld: Pimpin' Ain't Easy (CDM) (Fitfth Degree Entertainment, 2000)

One of two releases from Virginia R&B/hip hop duo Lef Phyld (Lef Field) or "Lef Phylo" as some people call them. The duo were out as early as '95 with a conscious hip hop single titled Empty Thoughts (Day By Day) but their album Straight To The Hall was not, to my knowledge, ever released. The above release came out in the year 2000 and by then the duo had changed their sound a little; while the title track is pure rap the b-side Just Leave is not unlike something Mary J. Blige might've recorded in her formative years, hip-hop soul with a smattering of neo. Both tracks were to be featured on their second album Mood Swings, which again never came into fruition...

Pimpin' Ain't Easy (Radio Edit) 3:15
Just Leave 3:58 1
Pimpin' Ain't Easy 3:15
Snippets (Gettin' Dough, Keep Pushin'. Retaliation) 5:37
Pimpin' Ain't Easy (Instrumental) 3:18
Just Leave (Instrumental) 3:56

Sunday, August 9, 2015

3-2NV: S/T (EP) (IWP, 2003)

Along with Fe'Male and Ja-Sheik, here is another group from the Tripod website and originating from Texas. Though Ja-Sheik's CD was an actual professionally-pressed audio CD, this group's EP has a more DIY approach. Their sound is more like Fe'Male - contemporary R&B but with some crunk influences...

Seeing as how this was never available to purchase digitally and all remaining physical copies have long sold out, as of 11/4/2015, this release has been removed from the CDbaby.com website.

3-2NV 3:25
Let's Roll 4:05
Lovely Day 3:12
3 Strikes You're Out 4:11

Friday, August 7, 2015

Fe'Male: Demos (Unreleased) (2003)

Another female R&B trio that failed during the early 2000s, this time from Atlanta, Georgia... I don't know anything about them but the rather ancient Tripod webpage promoting them and other similar artists is surprisingly still active. I don't know if they ever had a major label deal but they were rumored to be working with Swizz Beatz at one point and collaborated with Cash Money's Birdman on track 5 That's What's Up. 8 tracks in length, I don't know if this was a completed project but they have since reappeared with 6-trk digital EP Big Gurlz on CDbaby.com. It was made available to download in 2007 but I have a feeling that many of the tracks featured were originally recorded in the early 2000s, probably for their album that was never released, judging by the sound and the fact that one of them That's What's Up was originally recorded in 2003.

Bad Girl 3:43
Nasty Girl 4:07
I Don't Wanna 4:14
Check Ya Self 3:34
That's What's Up ft. Baby (The Bird Man) (Of Cash Money Records) 4:17
Trifflin 3:39
Tired Ass 3:30
Go Away 4:02

Buy the Big Gurlz EP here.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Ja-Sheik: A New Beginning (X Labs Productions & Entertainment Inc., 2005)

Independent release by Detroit female duo who emerged at around the same time as Fe'Male at a few other indie R&B groups I also plan on mentioning. They were all promoted on a rather ancient Tripod webpage that is astonishingly still active after all these years.While Fe'Male was obviously aiming for a major label deal, this duo used their only album, released in 2005, to promote their "Stay drug free, stay in school" slogan. Although not as contemporary-sounding as Fe'Male, it is a mixture of R&B, hip hop and bass music.

Available to purchase here.

Intro Skit 0:38
Please Dont Let Our Love Go 3:35
Ja-Sheik 3:55
Luv Dont Luv U 3:00
Krispy Kream 4:05
Leave Me Alone 3:44
Detroit Ghetto Fab Workout 3:44
Thug Role Playa 4:00
Bogus 4:02
Ocean Breeze 4:23
A New Beginning 3:39

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Fe'Male: Big Gurlz (EP) (R Entertainment Productions, 2007)

Further music from independent Georgia trio Fe'Male, who were originally featured on a rather ancient Tripod webpage for unsigned R&B acts during the early 2000s. Some of their demo recordings are posted here but they released this 6-song E.P. in 2007. It followed a previous single U Don't Know Me which was released to CDBaby.com and various other digital outlets in 2006. The style is mainly mid 2000s crunk'N'B but one song Thas Was Up was originally recorded in 2003...

Sadly the last thing of interest from this very contemporary-sounding group.

Big Gurlz (Club) 4:06
Big Gurlz (Radio) 3:51
U Don't Know Me 3:41
Boyfriend 2:55
Thas Was Up 3:57
Big Gurlz (Accapella) 4:04

Listen or buy here. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

LIFE featuring Roger Troutman Jr: Freaky Fantasy (Cassette Single) (Jammin' G Records, 1997)

A further indie R&B group from the windy city who had a couple of singles out in 1997. Sadly I don't know anything about them but I don't believe their debut LP The Lick was ever released. Their name an acronym for "Ladies In Full Effect," the song is smooth, sumptuous, sexy R&B at its best. Featuring Roger Troutman of Zap & Roger fame on the talk box...

Freaky Fantasy (Radio Edit) 3:50
Freaky Fantasy (LP Version) 4:21