My top 3 throwback tunes of the week

My top 3 throwback tunes of the week

Recently I’ve been listening to plenty R&B from the 90’s and early 00’s. More specifically, these songs were not released as singles but are popular all the same. I think the best feeling is discovering a great song on an album that you love and wish for it to be released; even though you know it’s release would probably ruin how special it is. The next best thing is when you go back and listen to an album and discover a song you always skipped is near enough the best the album or EP has to offer.

If you grew up in during the early 90’s then you know how good music was back then. From baggy clothes, shell suits, kangol hats, to watching ‘The Box’ or ‘The Lick with Trevor Nelson’, these songs are quite nostalgic and still very much classics. I literally haven’t been playing much other than these three songs.

Xscape
Tonight
Hummin’ Comin’ At Cha’
1993
xscape-hummin-comin-at-cha
Circa 1990’s when R&B girl groups were rife, the quartet made up of Kandi Buruss, Tameka ‘Tiny’ Cottle, Latocha and Tamika Scott came together as Xscape. The first act that was signed to Jermaine Dupri’s label, ‘So So Def Recordings’, these young ladies were something refreshing. Not that I was old enough to recognize at the time, but growing-up and listening back to them, there is a clear distinction between these four girls, and other female bands such as SWV, En Vogue and even Total.

Releasing their first effort ‘Hummin Comin’ at Cha’, these women mastered harmonies, shared lead and brought something refreshing to the music scene. Portraying rawness and edge, their debut managed to go platinum and their follow up albums did exceedingly well also.

The video version of the song ‘Tonight’, is blessed with harmonies of perfection. Almost acapella, Kandi opens whilst the remaining three provide backing alongside a subtle baseline, this song is very “throwback.” Surprisingly ‘Tiny’, does her thing (not sure if she still could now) as well as Tamika. To be honest I had completely forgot about this song until a friend reintroduced it to me about three weeks ago, and since…well I don’t know. I love every part of it beginning to end; it sums up the 90’s music scene I guess. As for the video, simple but most videos where back then, when sex wasn’t bestseller for female artists.

Aaliyah
Come Over
I Care 4 U
2003
Aaliyah_Come_Over_Single
Aaliyah’s untimely death is something that will always be a loss to the industry. People continue to debate her relevancy in 2015, however that’s neither here nor there. Following her third and final studio self-titled album, just over a year after her death the ‘I Care 4 U’ posthumous compilation was released. Featuring six unreleased tracks, and previously released singles. I remember going out my way to buy this CD. The album itself has gone on to sell over a million copies, which is no shock at all. Her legacy is something that has lived on, through TV, film and music.

Anyways as of late, ‘Come Over’ has been on constant repeat. Don’t ask why, I have no answers for you. One of the sixth unreleased tracks included, ‘Come Over’ was initially recorded for her 2001, ‘Aaliyah’ album but never made the final track list. In the song we hear her asking her love interest if she can go see him and I don’t care what time of night, day, season or year, if a lady as beautiful as Aaliyah were to ask me that, I would’ve been there. The song remains low-key sexy. Aaliyah’s sultry voice almost soothes me over this track. The expected R&B rhythm made up of 808’s and tinny handclaps, makes me resist picking up that phone and making that call, although I don’t have a love interest, so that could be quite awkward!

With backing vocals from Tank, no offense or discredit but he adds nothing that she couldn’t have done herself. Hats off to writer Johnta Austin and producer Bryan Michael-Cox for this one. Now, this version goes down as a “demo” while the studio version was recorded by ‘Changing faces’, for their third studio album ‘Visit Me.’ As fitting as the song is with their album title, their version is nothing like this. Either way though, the song is such a tune I just can’t get enough.

Alicia Keys
So Simple feat. Lellow
The Diary of Alicia Keys
2003
The_Diary_Of_Alicia_Keys_album_cover
Gracing the musical scene in 2001 with her debut ‘Songs in A Minor,’ Alicia Keys had become a phenomenon. Pretty faced with long braids and beads, a dope writer and pianist Keys, was something new. With an amazing first effort it was unsure whether she could have a follow-up after her first album won her a Grammy, but no doubt she returned two years later with her sophomore release. Lead single ‘You Don’t Know My Name’ managed to top charts and even earn her a Grammy for Best R&B song a few years on. With that said, the album was highly anticipated in the last quarter of 2003. The album manages to channel neo-soul, a genre that was very popular during this time, as well as soul and R&B. On first listen messy and no real direction, the album does lack cohesion however, it still manages to be a masterpiece.

Even though I brought this album I rarely made it past track seven of fifteen, because I was young and if it wasn’t up-tempo chances were I wasn’t interested. Skip forward almost ten years later when I was introduced to track ten ‘So Simple,’ I asked myself how on earth did I miss this. Written by Dre & Vidal – known for their writing credits for artists such as Jill Scott – the similarities can’t go unnoticed. It feels like spoken-word, the neo-soul inspired song is a song about a failing relationship. Keys wants to know how they can make things right, because it would be so easy if they were to just go back to how they were.

I think it is relatable (not to me in this instance) but just to anyone that has been in a similar situation. Most relationships friends or lovers are filled with miscommunication, a lack of clarity and usually no form of real closure.

One thing about Alicia Keys, she has been consistent. Her albums are always great, not so much her single choices, [coughs] ‘Girl on Fire’, but as a singer-songwriter she has to be credited for her contribution to music and even charities. Her voice may have suffered a little bit, don’t believe me? Try and search for her first performance of ‘Girl On Fire’… oh you can’t. It was that bad that it’s been removed everywhere.

– Stephen Paul


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