Section 1: The Ass End
“My Up and Down” (download)
Since the file wouldn’t work last week, here’s “My Up and Down” in all its glory.
“Ain’t Nobody Like You” 1992, #84 (4 weeks) (download)
In the ‘80s, Miki Howard was a very typical R&B singer but as the ‘90s rolled in, she developed more of a jazzy style and he sound became a little more sophisticated. Then she played Billie Holiday in Malcolm X and released an album of Holiday covers which placed her in a whole new light. “Ain’t Nobody Like You” was released on Femme Fatale, her record before the movie came out. It’s got a uniqueness about it that really makes it stand out from a lot of the junk that was charting at the time. Even if you aren’t into R&B that much, you should try this one.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I still own Fever For Da Flavor, the debut from H-Town, strictly for “Knockin’ Da Boots.” That track was the group shooting its wad as nothing even came close to recreating that level of success. They were an R&B and New Jack Swing group but their singles were all ballads, the likes of which Jodeci, R. Kelly and many other bands were doing much better.
Grayson Hugh w/ Betty Wright
“How ‘Bout Us” 1990, #67 (7 weeks) (download)
Hugh’s “Talk It Over” is one of my favorite tracks of the ‘80s and while this was the tail end of Betty Wright’s career, she was totally on point at pretty much all times. This cover of the Champaign classic was off the True Love soundtrack.
Although neither of these songs are terrible, they are the exact reason why people like Betty Wright and Miki Howard stand out and Alfonzo Hunter goes by the wayside. And you know, if Hunter was really a “Playa,” you’d think he could have manipulated his way into a few more hits or at least one top 40 one, right?
The biggest surprise for me here is that “Wicked” was Ice Cube’s first Hot 100 hit. It’s a little unbelievable that nothing from Death Certificate crossed over, including the great, “Steady Mobbin’” But once he did cross over, there was clearly no stopping him. Cube was surely one of the best rappers of the decade. And despite now staring in Are We There Yet?, when Ice says he’s a playa, I believe him. This is how you do it, Alfonzo Hunter.
If you’ve never read it, check out the Popdose guide to Ice Cube.
“New Jack Hustler” 1991, #67 (8 weeks) (download)
Just like “Colors” (colors, colors), Ice says the phrase “New Jack Hustler” over and over and over again until the fucking thing is worn out but damn if this ain’t a fine song. It was of course from New Jack City but was also included on his album O.G. Original Gangsta. That would be his final good record but fortunately for him, he’s actually a much better actor than musician.
Ha, now this is some true shit here. “Pump It” not only liberally samples “Push It” by Salt ‘n Pepa (too easy) but the rap has the exact same flow as Tone Loc’s “Funky Cold Medina.” It might be catchy but it’s so unoriginal that I have to nominate it for worst song of the series. And then of course, “I Wanna Be Your Girl” is the 100% polar opposite of the first single. Interestingly enough as well, her real last name is “Urchick” – I mean, that screams out to be used as an artist name “Ur Chick,” but instead she uses Icy Blu. This had to be the toughest shit to market.
“L.A. Woman” 1990, #52 (9 weeks) (download)
After “Cradle of Love” hit #2, covering the Doors would have seemed to be a great way to follow that up but it would fizzle after nine weeks and ultimately be Billy’s last hot 100 hit.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Billy Idol but the dude has to be the least punk “punk” in music.
ILL Al Skratch
“I’ll Take Her” 1994, #62 (14 weeks) (download)
Despite the name sounding like one dude, ILL Al Skratch is actually a duo consisting of Al Skratch and I Lyrical Lord. They were joined by Brian McKnight on this one who must have gotten paid a shit ton of money otherwise this makes no sense at all for him. It’s a decent song overall but way beneath the talent bar that McKnight clearly surpassed by this stage of the game.
“We Getz Buzy” 1993, #95 (2 weeks) (download)
These foul mouthed teens talk about how they have more intellect than Kris Kross. Ha. Your title is “We Getz Buzy” dudes. ‘Nuff said.
If I was at a bar doing trivia night and they asked me who the future star was in Immature, I know I would have said Omarion. But that would have been totally incorrect as the star in the making from these teens was Marques Houston who would go on to be in the TV show Sister, Sister. Musically, lord they sucked.