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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Never Trust a Big Butt and a Smile: Our Favorite '90s R&B Jams



























This is special. All of us coming together like…Voltron, defenders of the universe! Since the jams that the others have posted are so good that they would have gone on a ‘pause-mixed’ mixtape for some ‘honey dip’ (yes that was a term used back in my day), I think I’ll take a different approach.

In the 90’s, it wasn’t like I was flush with girlies (well, I guess we could do this again for the new millennium as well), so it was really about what songs I listened to when I spent most of my time alone, wackin’ off…dreamin’ for whatever girl would give me a look without disgust or confusion. That’s what I associate half of 90’s R&B with…longing. The other half is filled with wonderful memories of being used and abused…high school drAMA!!! I try to keep it raw and rare, bringing out the CD single collection (remember those?). Oh yeah, and Janet, it ain't the 90's anymore.

[MP3] R. Kelly :: Bump N’ Grind Remix
I would say that this is the R. Kelly ‘Remix’ that set off the R. Kelly remix revolution.

[MP3] Silk :: Freak Me (D'influence U.K. Remix)
It was between this and Jodeci’s “Feenin’”, but I figure y’all already know/have it. Ali knows what I’m talkin’ about.

[MP3] After 7 :: ‘Till You Do Me Right
To me, if there was a perfect Babyface song that went under the radar, this is it!

[MP3] Boyz II Men :: Water Runs Dry Mood Mix
Everybody do the Wanya spaz out!

[MP3] D’Angelo :: Shit, Damn, Motherf*cker
Couldn’t have said it better myself.

My apologies to Shai & Blackstreet.

::Mr. H to the IPPO::

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Aaah...R&B! My first "exposure" to "rap" was Bobby Brown's "Don't Be Cruel" album...so Pop R&B is intregrally connected to my love of music. In fact, I was so in love with the cassette copy I had of the album that I bought Mr. Hippo the "Don't Be Cruel" album on CD. Keep in mind that this was during the days that CDs were packaged in awkwardly tall cardboard boxes to ensure that nobody stole the super expensive CDs from your local Warehouse.

Years later (when CD's became more affordable) I ended up purchasing my very own CD Single: Tevin Campbell's "Can We Talk"...a song I would play on repeat while fantasizing about my first kiss (yes, pretty lame!).

With time, my tastes have evolved...but there are a handful of tracks that feel fresh and emotional to me. Those include:


[MP3] Brian McKnight:: Never Felt This Way
From McKnight's self-titled debut album in 1992..."Never Felt This Way" is pure and raw. McKnight's raspy voice and a piano. I love the emotional journey the song takes you on. It's supposed to be about "love" but McKnight sounds almost sad and scared of the vulnerability involved. It's strangely haunting...

[MP3] Tony Toni Tone:: Lovin' You
To me, this is the penultimate R&B group. Their sound is pure and timeless. Saadiq makes both the silliest and nastiest aspects of love songs sound sweet. "Loving you, makes me know there's a God!"...you can't get any more romantic AND hokey than with that line! From their classic 1996 album, "House of Music".

[MP3] Maxwell:: Whenever Wherever Whatever
R&B nirvana. Seriously. This song embodies everything I know and wish "love" to be. Maxwell, where are you? Robin Thicke can try...but he sure as hell ain't you!


MPB

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What else can I say about the 90’s except that the ladies came out strong! It was an era of breaking out of those tight 80’s spandex leggings that had us repressed and busting into baggy silk pajamas. It was a time for becoming a growned up woman. And saying a big Eff You to those who wanted to hold us down. I miss the days when you heard these ladies on the radio, setting the fresh standard that strong is sexy.

[MP3] SWV :: Right Here
The proper formula is: any SWV song + empty dancefloor = all the women will rush to get to it.

[MP3] Groove Theory :: Tell Me
Amel Larrieux, lead singer of Groove Theory, has released three albums since leaving GT, my favorite being Infinite Possibilities. Check it out when you get a chance.

[MP3] Janet Jackson :: That’s the Way Love Goes
“Like a moth to a flame burned by the fire…” Hottest. intro. ever.

[MP3] Mary J. Blige :: Sweet Thing
Love my Mary J. Always keepin it real and telling it like it is time and time again.

||| debstar |


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If there's one genre of music that can instantly evoke a flood of memories, it has to be '90s R&B. Sure, at times it was cheesy, sappy, and a little over the top, but for most of us, Boyz II Men, New Edition, and Babyface were a huge part of the soundtrack of our high school lives (class of '96!!!). I've never had such a hard time narrowing down a top 5 list, there were just too many good songs and too many memories I didn't want to leave out. So even though today I can't listen to these same groups nonstop, I'll always have a soft spot for these songs that have been so woven into the memories of my ever-so-coveted-and-still-longed-for youth.

[MP3] Bell Biv Devoe :: Poison (1990)
[Video] Bell Biv Devoe :: Poison
I had this one as a cassette single and played it nonstop on the busride to school in 7th & 8th grade (it shared the rotation with ABC's "Iesha"). I still remember every line of that song and love how they crooned "Never trust a big butt and a smile." This may be the only song I will ever dance to at a club sober. Oh, and it's also the reason I love
Scrubs so much. CLASSIC!

[MP3] Xscape feat. Keith Sweat :: Am I Dreaming (1998)
[Video] Xscape feat. Keith Sweat :: Am I Dreaming
Smooooth.

[MP3] Janet Jackson :: Anytime (1994)
[Video] Janet Jackson :: Anytime
Am I the only one who wants to get naked whenever this song comes on?

[MP3] Keith Sweat :: I'll Give All My Love to You (Remix 1990)
[Video] Keith Sweat :: I'll Give All My Love to You
This one is such a prototypical '90s R&B song. Done to perfection.

[MP3] Mary J. Blige :: Real Love (1992)
[Video] Mary J. Blige :: Real Love (Remix feat. Biggie)
Ok, I'm cheating on this one because I told everyone we were only picking our 4 favorite songs, but I just can't leave "Real Love" out of the list, you all know how good it is.

Honorable mention:
[Video] Kai :: Say You'll Stay
[Video] Mint Condition :: What Kind of Man Would I Be
[Video] Groove Theory :: Tell Me
[Video] Hi Five :; I Like the Way

|Bruce Banner|

8 Comments:

Blogger Coltrane Jenkins said...

Great post; great site

7:52 PM  
Blogger Travis said...

hahaha, awesome post, if for nothing else than seeing that Rolling Stone cover again. What I wouldn't do to be those hands.

As much as I claimed to hate R&B back then, I had my closet favorites, didn't really see any of them on here but "Poison". I to, used to crank up "Don't Be Cruel" on the way to high school in my little Jetta and sing away.....ahhh those were the days

8:10 AM  
Blogger bruce banner said...

poison!!! finally someone else showing some love for BBD...remember that line, "me and the crew used to do her"? hilarious.

on that note, i'm going to have to bump this one in the office right now...if only my coworkers would break out in dance when this song came on...

9:41 AM  
Blogger bruce banner said...

anyone notice that all of hippo's songs are about getting it on? and these aren't even the "romantic" getting it on songs, it's straight up let's-get-freaky type of music!...not that i expected anything less...i love it.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahhhhh, I'm loving this post. Really digging debstar's selections. Always great stuff on get down--thanks!

6:55 PM  
Blogger grant said...

great post. i actually made a 90s r&b station on pandora.com a few weeks ago, and i'm convinced that the 90s was the best era for r&b since the 70s....(and that nothing has really compared to it ever since)

but then again, maybe that's just because i associate with a particularly angsty time period of my own life, so my perception of the quality of music might be skewed by my own emotional attachments to certain songs.

(in other words, just like mista hippo, music was "really about what songs I listened to when I spent most of my time alone....")

anyway, here's my top 5...(altho im not sure how comprehensive it is..i think it's more of the top 5 songs that represent that era to me)

keith martin - never find someone like you
groove theory - baby love (i like deb's pick...but i think baby love is their best song...and also possibly most slept on)
swv - you're the one for me - remix w/ lost boyz. if there was ever a lifetime achievement award for the group with the sickest remixes...it'd go to SWV, hands down.
tony thompson - i wanna love you like that? (tony thompson also gets the award for the most embarassing death of an r&b singer)
pebbles - love makes things happen

honorable mentions: babyface - two occasions, hi-five - can't wait another minute, tlc - diggin on you & baby, baby, baby. shit, i could go on all day with honorable mentions.

ps. debz-stop leaving yourself anonymous comments :)

12:25 PM  
Blogger Mista Hippo said...

GREAT LIST. Gotta love the SWV remixes.

5:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poison is classic! Bell Biv Devoe was my first CD ever owned. I was just listening to Boogie Down Productions today and I heard KRS-One say "never trust a big butt and a smile" in Jimmy from 1988. Good advice always!

9:25 PM  

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