Diddy produced most of Mary J. Blige’s debut album and tried to strike gold twice with Faith, who, back then, was just a Mary knock-off. She carved quite a career in her own right, but a lot of people just initially saw it like Biggie’s lady went from Mary’s background singer to solo artist overnight.
First of all, LOL at Pam acting like she’s not a lesbian.
But really, this is way underrated. The song is Jam for sure, but this video is just 90s loveliness. The fashions, the dancing. The hair. I think 1998 was the last year black women would wear the Halle Berry short cuts before weave just exploded all over everywhere. There should be some kind of noticeable shift in the rotation of the earth from the weight of all the hair that makes its way from Asia to the hood….
Amy is remembered most for the retro-60s sound of Back to Black but her first album, Frank, is the album that introduced that voice to the world and it showcased a broader range of influences. Based on a sample from 1973’s “Apache” that was updated by Nas in 2003, “In My Bed” is a silky groove behind Amy’s powerful alto.
Born to a Jewish family in north London, Amy was encouraged by her family to explore the arts from a young age. She was eventually expelled from an arts academy at age 14 for not fully applying herself, but she continued to explore music. By the time she secured her first record deal, she had a already recorded a handful of tracks with Salaam Remi through a publishing deal with EMI. Those tracks would serve as the basis for her debut album.
Inspired by 1960s girl groups, Amy adopted her signature beehive and eye-makeup taking her cue from the Ronettes. While her debut album was a smash in the UK, Back to Black brought her to worldwide recognition, with Amy tying the record for the most Grammys won in a single night by a female, winning five in 2008.
Plagued by alcohol and drug addiction from 2005 onward, Amy went through highs and lows, the lows becoming more prominent after the 2007 death of her grandmother, culminating in her death this weekend.
It’s hard to watch this video without some level of sadness knowing Aaliyah died so soon after shooting ended.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Detroit, Aaliyah signed her first record deal at age 12 after years of auditioning and performing in talent competitions. She was introduced to R. Kelly who went on to write and produce the majority of her debut album. On the strength of the first two singles, Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number went on to sell three million copies and set the stage for a successful recording career. Even the revelation that R. Kelly had married an underage Aaliyah did nothing slow the trajectory of her budding star. She switched recording labels, distanced herself from Kelly and hooked up with Timbaland and Missy Elliott for her second album.
One in a Million became an ever bigger success, selling 18 million copies worldwide. In the midst of recording, shooting videos, and touring, Aaliyah attended a performing arts high school, graduating with a 4.0 in 1997. After graduation, Aaliyah started dabbling in small acting roles, eventually ending up opposite Jet Li with a well-received performance in Romeo Must Die. The single from that soundtrack, “Try Again”, became the first single to top the Billboard Hot 100 based solely on airplay.
In 2001, Aaliyah released her 3rd album. Hailed as one of the most important R&B albums of the decade, the Timbaland-produced set saw a more adult Aaliyah taking more risks in her music. Aaliyah and a production crew flew to the Bahamas to film the video for “Rock the Boat” which would turn out to be her last music video. On the return trip, the airplane, overweight and flown by an unlicensed pilot with drugs and alcohol in his system, crashed nose-first shortly after takeoff, killing everyone on board.
Since her death, Aaliyah has been recognized by Billboard as the 10th most successful female R&B artist of the past 25 years, and is credited with helping to popularize the futuristic, stuttering production of R&B during the late 90s.
Janis has a lot of hits worthy of recognition, but this cover of a Bee Gees single (originally written for Otis Redding who died too soon to record it) is one of the better clips that exist on the Internet.
Born in Texas in 1943, Janis Joplin stood out from an early age. Her parents said she needed way more attention as a youngster than her brothers and sisters, and during her school years, Janis was quoted as saying, “I was a misfit. I read, I painted, I didn’t hate niggers.” Before she even had thoughts of a music career, she made headlines at the University of Texas, being profiled by the school newspaper as a unique individual who sometimes went barefoot, sometimes wore Levis, and carried an autoharp in order to bust out in song whenever she felt like it.
Janis dropped out of college and moved to California where she dabbled in music, booze, and drugs. In the mid-60s she returned to Texas to clean up her act, after which she temporarily adopted a much more conservative image, even donning a beehive at point in her career.
Armed with a soulful voice and powerful performance style, Janis released a string of songs and albums between 1966 and 1970 that would catapult her to stardom, earning her the title of The Queen of Rock and Roll. Throughout her career she continued to use drugs recreationally and her habit would ultimately prove to be her downfall.
On October 1, 1970, Janis recorded her final songs—including “Merceds Benz”— as a present for John Lennon on his birthday later in the month. A couple of days later, Janis and a band member went to the recording studio to listen to some tracks and then out for drinks later. She later drove to a motel afterwards, where she was found dead the next day. The official cause of death is attributed to an overdose of heroin, possibly complicated by the affects of alcohol. Many close to the singer believe the heroin she obtained was much stronger than usual, as three other clients of that dealer also overdosed the same week.
The public was shocked by Janis’s death, especially coming so soon after the death of Jimi Hendrix two weeks prior. Today, Janis is remembered as a rock icon, consistently ranked among the top singers and artists of all time.
Minnie is best known for her massive hit song “Loving You” but “Memory Lane” is the one that makes me misty.
Born in Chicago, Minnie initially had dreams of being an actress or ballet dancer. At the insistence of her parents who noticed her range and musicality, she started training in opera as a teenager. Minnie went against the suggestions of her teachers and opted not to pursue a career as an opera singer and instead pursued popular music. Her first gig was singing with a group known as The Gems, who later became session singers for Chess records, appearing on the song “Rescue Me” by Fontella Bass.
Minnie had a few false starts at music success afterwards, but by the early 1970s, she had married Richard Rudolph and spent her time as a housewife and mother to her two youngsters (one of which is SNL alum Maya Rudolph). An intern at Epic records re-discovered her and convinced Minnie and her family to move to LA to record an album. Her solo album, Perfect Angel with the hit “Loving You”, went on to sell over a million copies.
By this time, Minnie had been diagnosed with breast cancer and in 1976 was given only 6 months to live. Minnie kept touring and kept recording, and, contrary to the prognosis given by her doctors, released her final ablum, Minnie, in 1979. At this point, she was in a great deal of pain and had lost a lot of movement in her right side. ”Memory Lane” is about the end of a relationship, but fans think it was also meant as a farewell to her fans. Near the end she ad-libs with “save me, save me” and “I’m not ready to go”, which, taken with the progression of her disease, lends new meanings to the lyrics.
A week after her final live television performance, Minnie passed away, listening to a song Stevie Wonder had made for her, wrapped in her husband’s arms.