2-For-1: Tisha Campbell and Jasmine Guy

After reading about Debbie Allen's album over at The Isle of Failed Pop Stars (an album my mom owns, by the way), it's due time for my own installment of sitcom stars who occasionally dabbled in pop music.

When I was a little kid...this was like, early, early 90s...I remember Jasmine Guy was all over The Box. She had three big songs: "Try Me," "Just Want to Hold You" and the above "Another Like My Lover." My mom actually taped videos from the Box a lot, and while I was going through some old tapes I found a video with "Try Me" on it.

"Another Like My Lover" (#9 R&B/#66 Hot 100) and "Try Me" (#14 R&B) came out at the height of the New Jack Swing era, as you can tell by the beats. And of course "Just Want to Hold You" (#27 R&B/#34 Hot 100) was the obligatory ballad. Still, with New Jack beats and an already established reputation playing Whitley on "A Different World" (where she sang on quite a few episodes), it's weird how she never became a bigger star in the music world.

Uploaded by ice1906

The same thing happened with Tisha Campbell, who was already an established singer/actress who released who self-titled album a year after the premiere of "Martin," which is hands down one of the best sitcoms of the 90s. (My mom also has this one...) I remember seeing this on the Box as well, and as a grown-up I snicker at the lyric "no one-minute brotha/I need an overtime lover." Again, with a big voice, New Jack Swing beat and even a little reggae toward the end, Tisha saw little success as this song didn't even chart. Her album only hit #37 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.

Like Jasmine, Tisha got a chance to display her vocal chops before releasing music, as in "Little Shop of Horrors" and "Heart and Soul," a short-lived sitcom starring Morris Day that came on NBC. If you've never heard of it, that's OK, but my mom had a near-obsessive habit with her VCR and taped a lot of things, including this sitcom where Morris played a record company exec and Tisha as his protege. (There were actually clips of this on YouTube but they were pulled! IMDB doesn't even have a proper listing for it! But the show wasn't that funny anyway...)

Of course we can't forget about Jasmine and Tisha sharing the spotlight in "School Daze," one of my top 10 favorite movies with an amazing soundtrack, including this gem "Be Alone Tonight":


Somethin' for the People

I forgot how hilarious this video was in the beginning...

The two female singers (Trina and Tamara) I'll get to in a later post, but let's focus on the short-lived trio Somethin' For the People, who hit it big with "My Love is the Shhh!" They had two more singles before this - "You Want this Party Started," "Can You Feel Me" and "With You" in 1996, but a year and a sophomore album later, "Shhh!" hit #2 R&B/#4 Hot 100 and it seemed they were headed for bigger things. Unfortunately, a second single "All I Do" peaked at #15 R&B/#47 Hot 100, and their last outing "Bitch With No Man" off their third album only made it to #39 R&B. I KNOW there's a video for "Bitch With No Man" because I remember seeing it on one of those public access channels (don't laugh) back in the day! But I couldn't find it anywhere.

At the 3:05 mark at "Shhh!", I remember having debates about whether he was singing "My love is the, your love is the shiiiiiiit" without radio or TV blocking it out. It's still a mystery to this day.

What set Somethin' For the People apart was that they weren't a cookie-cutter boy band and they actually wrote and produced their own songs. But I guess their lyrics were a bit on the raw side, and maybe a bit too gimmicky for long-term success.

How to make a comeback:

I found MySpace pages for each of the members Sauce, Cat Daddy and Fuzzy (his is private), and it looks like at least two of them have stuck to producing for other artists. However, it wouldn't hurt if they got back together as a trio again!



Growing up in Detroit, I remember the radio stations showed much love to Rome since he was from Benton Harbor, about 80 miles east. But I had no idea this song "I Belong To You (Every Time I See Your Face)" was just a big a hit nationwide: It hit #2 R&B/#6 Hot 100.

Rome had another song "Do You Like This" that hit #10 R&B/#31 Hot 100, but after 1997 we never heard from him again. There seemed to be a bit of overcrowding of solo male R&B singers at the time (Rome, Myron, Link, Sam Salter, Uncle Sam, R. Kelly, Methrone, Brian McKnight, Usher, the list goes on...) so I'll chalk it up to that.

Rome is truly MIA, as he doesn't have a MySpace page, nor does Wikipedia have an entry for him. Other than his videos on YouTube and his Billboard bio, you'd have no idea this man existed even though he had two big hits. Anyone know where he is?



In the late '90s there was a tidal wave of neo-soul and alternative-leaning R&B artists hitting the scene. However, it was still a fairly new offshoot of R&B in general, and no doubt there were issues on how exactly to market these artists so they would be accepted by the public. Several of these artists, while making music that was arguably ahead of its time, would come and go within a matter of months.

Pru hit the scene in 2000 with "Candles," this bouncy number that obviously samples Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' "The Tracks of My Tears." I remember BET playing this video a lot, and hearing this on one of the adult urban contemporary stations. Billboard has a bio of her (borrowed from Allmusic) and says she charted at #68 with this song. I remember seeing ads for the album in VIBE, but if it was released it must not have charted. However, you can buy it on eBay for as low as 69 cents!

Also, I didn't know this until recently, but infamous video vixen Karrine Steffans is the "other woman" in the video.

How to make a comeback:

Here's Pru's Myspace page, where she's still plugging out music with her band. And I gotta say, out of all the MySpace pages I've found so far, I'm most impressed with Pru's music. So hopefully she'll get some recognition.


3rd Storee/Surprise update

Over the years, several groups tried to recapture the magic of The Jackson 5 and New Edition...

...and, well, didn't quite make it to their levels, but they always get kudos for trying! 3rd Storee was no exception.

I remember seeing "If Ever" all over The Box and actually liking this song, because it sounded like an old Chi-Lites or Stylistics joint with an updated twist. It peaked at #64 R&B. A second single was released...

...but the album never saw the light of day. Even though they had the help of Next front man R.L. for this single "Party Tonight," they were signed to Yab Yum Records, a Sony imprint owned by Tracey Edmonds that had several artists (Laurnea, Jon B.) that never got their just due.

Eventually 3rd Storee finished going through puberty and the lead singer, Lil' Man, was dropped or dropped out (I never knew this until I researched it online). They signed to Def Jam and their next single "Get With Me" featured then up-and-coming rapper Joe Budden. However, they added a new backing singer and a new lead that was none other than...

J'Son! I thought he had completely fallen off the face of the earth until I read the YouTube comments on the "If Ever" video saying that it was indeed J'Son (he sings lead on the first verse) fronting 3rd Storee for their 2002 album also titled "Get With Me." I actually remember BET premiering this video, but never hearing it on the radio. Billboard lists the single peaking at #85 R&B. We never heard from 3rd Storee again.

(Joe Budden, you are also on MIA status as well...)

After some MySpace digging, I found 3rd Storee's MySpace page (which links to all the individual members' pages) and J'Son's page, where he says he was a member of 3rd Storee (which has since changed its name to Chapter 4, and says they are signed to J Records), but curiously doesn't mention his prior solo career.

I didn't know this, but apparently Lil' Man (now known as K-Young) has also been on a solo grind. The single here only peaked at #38 on Billboard's Rhythmic Top 40 chart in 2005. (In other words, you've never heard it. I haven't either.) Here is his MySpace page.

How to make a comeback:

They all have MySpace pages, so it seems like they're on their way...

Liberty City FLA

"All day...
all night...

24/7 GOOD LOVE!"

That line always sticks with me. I remember seeing this video on BET and my local cable access channel.

I couldn't dig up much info on Liberty City, except that they charted a Billboard Dance Single in 1994 and two other R&B singles -- "Who's She Loving Now" and "I Met Her In Miami," which you can see the video for. "24/7" peaked at #75 on the R&B chart.

This group sounded exactly like almost any other 90s male group and they were signed to a small imprint of Jive (home to the likes of R. Kelly and Britney Spears), so it was really easy to get lost in the shuffle. Only one album was released. However, I know someone out there other than me remembers this song!


2-For-1: Rebbie Jackson/La Toya Jackson

By no means are the Jackson sisters MIA, but with the recent news buzzing about the financial state of the Jackson family, it might be fitting to dedicate at least one post to two of the stars of the family.

Worst '80s video ever? I love it, though. So cheesy. Rebbie, of course, is the oldest member of the Jackson family, but if you ask me, has the best voice between the other sisters (Janet and LaToya). Her debut single, "Centipede," produced by brother Michael, reached #4 R&B/#24 Hot 100. The album of the same name was released in 1984, the only year (thus far) when every single member of the Jackson family had a new album on the market (The Jacksons' "Victory" with all six brothers, Rebbie's "Centipede," La Toya's "Heart Don't Lie" and Janet's "Dream Street"). Of course, "Thriller" was released a year earlier and no doubt still making an impact.

Rebbie made sporadic musical impacts between 1984 and 1998, when I first came to know her with "Yours Faithfully," which got heavy BET airplay and a bit of airplay on one of the adult contemporary radio stations where I grew up:

Rebbie's red outfit in the "Yours Faithfully" video = inspiration for Janet's red outfit in the "Feedback" video? Too coincidental, if you ask me. Also, when Janet reaches Rebbie's age, I won't be surprised if this is what her dance moves start to look like. (And they say that sans plastic surgery/vitiligo, Michael would look exactly like Rebbie...)

With this single and album of the same name released on Michael's label, it was Rebbie's last appearance in the music scene, and it's due time for a comeback.

How to make a comeback:

Since many older singers (Natalie Cole, Miki Howard, Vanessa Williams, Vesta) are going the "standards" route (releasing an album of cover songs), this could be Rebbie's calling.

As for La Toya, on the other hand...

Musically, I want to love La Toya, but she just made all the wrong moves with music. She's tried disco, dance, R&B, pop, and even country, and her last album, which had a few dance hits a few years back, has been pushed back indefinitely. On an indie label. Personality-wise, La Toya is by far my favorite Jackson. Truly an 8-year-old trapped in the body of a 50-year-old woman. Please take a look at her videos on YouTube (or check out churchoflatoya.com)

"Heart Don't Lie," seen here, was her biggest hit, peaking at #56. Digging around a few weeks ago, though, I randomly discovered a song of hers (co-written by Janet) from her second album, "My Special Love" called "Camp Kuchi Kaiai," which you can listen to if you have an Imeem account. This is a GREAT song, in my opinion...until the bridge where La Toya starts to, um...well, I'll let you listen to it and judge. (Please sign up for Imeem if you're looking for hard-to-find songs, I guarantee you'll love it!)

How to make a comeback:

I suggest La Toya go back to making reality TV and leave music alone. I loved her on "Armed and Famous," especially this clip. For a moment -- and probably the first moment ever -- she was everyone's favorite Jackson.

Let's hope if the Jacksons ever reunite, they don't decide to cover each others' songs, either:



(the video has been re-uploaded...)

A+ had the distinction of being one of youngest rappers in the game, only 16 and pushing his sophomore album when "Enjoy Yourself," the song above, was released in 1998. I remember seeing this all over BET's "Rap City" and MTV Jams. It wasn't until later in life that I found out the song sampled the disco hit "A Fifth of Beethoven," but as a kid I thought this was one of the tightest beats ever.

Plus he was only two years older than me! I kind of wanted to be a rapper too.

Wikipedia says this was a big hit overseas, but here in the U.S. the song peaked at #50 R&B/#63 Hot 100. Another single, "All I See," peaked at #29 R&B/#66 Hot 100, but I'm not remembering that song at all.

In the beginning of the song, he says "Yo Kedar/let me hold the keys to the car." Yes, that would be Kedar Massenburg, the force behind D'Angelo and Erykah Badu. However, if he was able to bring them to new heights, why couldn't the same happen with A+? And plus he didn't seem like he was 16...as far as kiddie/teen rappers went, audiences could never take Another Bad Creation of Biv 10's Pee-Wee All-Stars seriously, but A+ seemed to have a nice flow. I wonder what happened?

How to make a comeback:

Even though A+ has a MySpace page, I am considering him MIA since it seems to not have been updated in three years (the bio says "now at 23") except for a mere blog posted in January saying the site is under construction. I'm assuming he's been on the mixtape circuit as the bio indicates, and his pics show he might have a son. Regardless, A+ is pushing 28 and it's not too late to get back in the game. We're waiting on you (and we also want you to show the young cats how it's done)!



Elusion was one of 4,532,108 R&B girl groups to debut in the 90s with their single "Reality," which I remember got substantial airplay on BET. What set Elusion apart was that they were two sets of identical twins -- Tamica and Tanya, Michelle and Marie -- and they were presented with futuristic looks and concepts, hence the name, a play off the word "illusion." Think LaBelle for the new generation.

In retrospect, they kind of remind you of TLC, no? Listen to the lead singer's voice, which is very T-Boz-esque.

I have this CD single and I don't even remember an album being released, but Allmusic has a listing for their debut -- and last -- outing, "Think About It." The single charted at an impressive #34 on the R&B chart and #75 on the Hot 100, so I'm wondering why they didn't go any further with a second single or album. Let's chalk it up to getting lost in the sea of girl groups.

How to make a comeback:

Two of the twins, Tamica and Tanya, have grown out their blonde locks, dyed them dark and have embraced a more alternative R&B sound as evidenced by their MySpace page. Plus, when I found this YouTube video, Tamica left a few fan-appreciation comments, which is always good to see. I wish more of you MIA artists would do the same and let us know where you are! No word on the other two twins. However, an alternative R&B route -- something "Reality" seemed to border on anyway -- seems the way to go. Good luck, ladies!



Now I know the first four posts may not be that obscure, but I'm wondering if anyone can put their finger on this next artist:

He's so obscure that a VHS tape of his video is the only evidence we have to prove he actually existed!

OK, kidding. There actually is another video of his on YouTube and a few fan-made videos, but I'm sure most of us obscure R&B fans will always associated J'Son with "Take A Look" and this Box favorite. God, how I miss The Box. Did every '90s video have to have the big-flowing-curtains-in-the-background thing? Imagine being a set designer going to a fabric store saying, "Gimme 100 yards of red taffeta STAT!" And doesn't this song give you a Mariah Carey "Dreamlover" vibe?

After checking Billboard, Allmusic and Wikipedia (he doesn't even have a page there), little information has turned up. J'Son has charted three low-position songs ("Take a Look," "I'll Never Stop Loving You" and "I Should Cheat on You") on the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts, and a self-titled album was released on Hollywood Records (pre-Disney pop music takeover), but nothing more since 1998. Billboard lists "I Should Cheat On You" (what was he, like 14? Serious subject matter there...) as being produced by Rodney Jerkins. It only peaked at #72 Hot 100/#48 R&B, at a time when Jerkins-produced songs ("The Boy is Mine," "If You Had My Love") were dominating the charts.

I remember hearing a rumor back in 8th grade that J'Son was gay, but I'm pretty sure that's middle school urban legend. And since I can't find his real name, I can't even MySpace him. So if anyone knows what became of him, let me know! In the meantime, here's his Billboard and Allmusic profiles. Here's his video for "I'll Never Stop Loving You" (I vaguely, vaguely remember this) as well.

How to make a comeback:

By guesstimation, J'Son should be about 24-28 by now, which is still young enough to attempt a singing career. So what are you waiting for? A quick stage-name change and maybe a switch to a more contemporary or neo-soul brand of R&B would do a world of good. Come on J'Son, I'm waiting on a comeback!


Tatyana Ali

Of course I couldn't talk about Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz without following it up with Tatyana Ali. Did that song sound familiar? It should have.

After "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" was canceled, its lead star Will Smith went on to star in a few movies like "Men In Black," "Independence Day" and "I Am Legend." You may have heard of them. However, one of its younger stars was also seeking to stake her claim in the entertainment world.

"Daydreamin'" came out after "Uptown Baby (Deja Vu)," but the former was a bigger success on the pop charts while the latter was a big hit on the R&B/hip-hop charts. I'm guessing because R&B radio was reluctant to play what was basically the same song over again, yet pop radio was ready to embrace the more lyric-friendly Ali version.

Why Ali never became a bigger star still baffles me to this day. She was signed to Michael Jackson's record label, had production from both Smith and superproducer Rodney Jerkins, went on tour with *NSYNC (if memory serves me correct, I definitely remember hearing that rumor about her dating Justin Timberlake), had a beloved following from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" (remember "Make Up Your Mind"?) and could actually sing. Let's chalk it up to there being too many pop singers on the market during the late 90s.

I bought the "Daydreamin'" single as a kid and only recently picked up the now-on-bargain-bin-status album, mainly because I was so in love with this song, which seemed to air nonstop on The Box back in the day:

Holy good use of an old-school sample, Batman! Why wasn't this song a hit? Apparently she had some bigger hits in the UK, too.

How to make a comeback:

Ali recently made an appearance in the "Yes We Can" campaign for Barack Obama and you can check out some new-ish music on her MySpace page. Are these clues of a sophomore album? She says she's working on something "independently." I guess. Perhaps let's also work on making an acting comeback as well, since all of her newest movies go straight to DVD. Really? Was there a need for "Nora's Hair Salon II"?

Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz

Holy N-Word, Batman! You might want to turn the speakers down if you're listening to this in a work setting.

This song was CRAZY addictive back when I was in 8th grade. Everyone knew the words and we swore this was the. best. song. ever. It was all over the radio, MTV and BET. I have this cassette single, too. New York OWNED rap in the late 90s.

The one thing I remember the most about Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz was that they were the cockiest mofos on earth. They once did an interview where they said they had been in the rap game for 10 years or something like that. Maybe they were underground or all over the mixtape circuit, but this was their breakout hit, and their last.

Also, these two had an odd affiliation with Shaquille O'Neal for some reason. When Shaq wasn't on the court he was trying to "rap," I guess...and somehow released...wait for it...five albums, two soundtrack albums and a Best-of compilation. That's more than the average shelf life of a female R&B singer. Tariq and Gunz make sporadic appearances on some of his work, including this gem here:

I may have seen the above video maybe once or twice in my life, but I clearly remember Gunz having his own verse in a Shaq song called "The Way It's Goin' Down" that was released shortly after "Uptown Baby (Deja Vu)." I remember the video had airplay on MTV (and was a much better effort than this here -- it was directed by Joseph Khan!), but I can't find it anywhere online.

Cash Money, No Limit and other Southern rap outlets gradually gained an increasing hold on hip-hop, to the point where we are now where New York rap isn't as prominent in the mainstream as it once was. As N.Y. rap started to disappear, so did many of their artists.

How to make a comeback:

Well, have they gone anywhere? Both Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz have their separate MySpace pages and Peter's son, Cory, has his own page and is trying to break in the game. I feel really old that my old favorites have children who are trying to rap. It looks like Cory is collaborating with Ryan Leslie...so...um...good luck with that. I noticed a few things after browsing their and their friends' pages though:

1. Joseph Khan left a comment on Cory's page. Wow.
2. Tariq has Cory in his top friends, but not Peter. Peter has Shaq in his top friends, but not Tariq. Cory has both Peter and Tariq. Tariq has plenty of big names including Olivia (OK, maybe not) but not Shaq. Drama?
3. Twism still exists? OK...
4. Someone's a big JT fan, obviously...



The ultimate one-hit wonder. This song is synonmous with my freshman year of high school and it was everywhere. I remember hearing this thinking, is this really R&B? It has a real country vibe to it, which is why I'm guessing it was a huge crossover hit. This song hit #1 on Billboard and despite a second single, Divine fell into obscurity soon after. I read on Wikipedia that one of the members tried out for "American Idol." No word on the other two.

I remember BET debuting a video of their second single, a cover of George Michael's "One More Try." Back then I dismissed it, but in retrospect, this was a gutsy move for a three-member group to revitalize a huge pop hit. Kudos to them for trying, but it didn't save them from their slide into obscurity.

OK, how many girl groups came out after En Vogue and the "hiatus" of Destiny's Child? There seemed to be a new peak around the late 90s/early 2000s with Divine, 3LW, Blaque, Allure, Destiny's Child, Elusion, So Plush, Cleopatra, Changing Faces, Dream, the last days of SWV, etc. Even gospel got into the act since Trin-I-Tee 5:7 and Mary Mary came onto the scene around this time. Only DC was able to rise to the top, and I truly believe they got lucky just because they picked the right producers for their second album.

How to make a comeback:

Girl groups have been pretty much absent from Billboard for awhile, but it's due time for a comeback of the genre. However, if Divine were to try to stage a return, they can't do it singing stuff like this. Once again, I'll have to suggest making some dance hits, or even go for a retro, Amy Winehouse-type vibe. Otherwise, they'll have to switch to gospel.

I decided to post Divine right after Samantha Mumba because guess who did their own version of "Lately"?

I had no idea this song existed until I picked up Samantha's album out the bargain bin a few years ago. WOW. Once again, I need to reiterate how far ahead of her time Samantha Mumba was. This video came out in 2000 -- who was wearing bangs in 2000? In fact, look who's wearing hair like hers now in 2008.

First post! Samantha Mumba

So I had this idea kicking around for a while after visiting Milk Carton Pop Stars and The Isle of Failed Pop Stars...why not dedicate a blog to all of my favorite MIA stars of yesteryear?

I have been waiting for almost 10 years for this woman to hit the charts again. Where the hell is Samantha Mumba? Apparently she was huge in the UK, but still one-hit wonder status in the U.S. (with "Gotta Tell You"). I loved "Baby Come Over" though...I was surprised when I checked Wikipedia and this song only hit #49 on the Hot 100. I swear I heard this all over the radio...or maybe I was just listening a bit too obsessively. Trivia: On the UK version of the album (which I proudly own), the original version of "Baby Come Over" doesn't have the Kool and the Gang sample of "Ladies Night." The American version (seen in the video) does.

I'm going chalk up her downfall to being part of a instantly failed trend: The late-90s/early 00s pop princess. Spice Girls. Britney. Christina. Jessica. Mandy. Plus Samantha was stuck with the "Black Britney" tag (I believe VIBE called her that, I could be wrong) and she was from Ireland. I guess America wasn't quite ready for a black pop singer with a weird accent...not yet, at least. Perhaps Sam was ahead of her time? I remember seeing her perform on some televised Disney Channel concert with a bunch of other "where are they now" acts, but back then Disney wasn't as fully committed to pop music domination as they are now.

A few years ago, I remember hearing her new song "I'm Right Here" on the radio ONCE. Just once. This was a great song that only peaked at #80. Here's the video:

This video is a tragedy but I'll forgive her for that. I used to bump this song on my iMac (it features a guest rap from Damian Marley not in this video) for about three years straight.

Supposedly she had a new album coming out produced by Sisqo (WTF?), but lately news on Samantha Mumba has been dormant. Come on Sam, I'm waiting on a comeback.

How she can comeback:

Since Rihanna sort of has the foreign black pop singer game locked down, there's not much room for another one and audiences are very fickle with random comebacks. I suggest Sam try to record a few club-happy dance tunes. Nothing wrong with a little techno. Then quietly ease back into the pop realm after you've scored a few dance cuts under your belt. If it can work for Kylie Minogue and Robyn, surely Sam's got a chance.