What I’m Diggin’ and What You Should Be Diggin’ Too: ’90s Girl Groups [Music Edition]

‘Alo ladies and gents! I’m back at it again, and this time I’m taking you down memory lane. That’s right, we’re taking a trip to the musical time of the ’90s.

Now, I understand that some of you were just wee babies in the early ’90s, or some of you were too young to comprehend the greatness that was happening at the time because you were busy working on your Kindergarten finger paint masterpieces, but guess what? The ’90s is one of my favorite decades when it comes to music. The talent was OFF THE CHARTS, with people actually hitting high notes and not using that blasphemous auto-tune nonsense to make things sound better.

Furthermore, female girl groups were still all the rage in the ’90s before silly shows like Popstars and Making the Band made a mockery of them with the infusion of reality TV. And as of late, I’ve been feeling pretty nostalgic for music of my youth, what with a lot of the ladies growing older and turning to reality TV for relevancy. Sigh.

So, who made the cut for me? I have to say this was really hard because there’s sooooooo many good groups out there. But, being that this is a short listicle (so I won’t run off at the mouth), I turned up the following:

Total

What I Love About Them: When I first heard Total, it was at the height of Bad Boys Records, when the Notorious B.I.G. was running things, Puff Daddy was holding it all together. The year was 1995 and the song was “Can’t You See.” Biggie did the intro with his unforgettable rap (the first one I was probably allowed to listen to), and the video featured the three singers — Kima, Keisha, and Pam — dancing on a smoky roof top. These women had (what is now called) swag and you had to have swag if you were rolling with Puffy and Biggie. This is what I loved most about them. Their swagger and ability to turn hard hip-hop beats into a foundation for their melodious vocals definitely made them a staple in the ’90s and if they weren’t featured on a rapper’s single (see: L.L. Cool J’s “Loungin’/Who Do U Love?”), they had rappers with serious flow on their hits. 

Like most things of the ’90s, the ladies weren’t able to sustain their place in hip hop with the wave of pop music and solo artists flooding in, but they totally left a mark.

Tracks to Listen to: “Can’t You See,” “Kissing You,” “What About Us,” “Trippin,” “Sittin’ Home” 

Brownstone

What I Love About Them: If you figure that these ladies were signed to Michael Jackson’s MJJ record label, then you know that there’s some serious talent behind them. With Nikki Gilbert murdering almost every song with her lead vocals, Maxee Maxwell dropping super-high notes all over the place, and Mimi Doby coming in the clutch to blend out their seriously amazing harmonies, it was truly a tragedy to see the group fade into a somewhat obscurity after only a few years (and a switch up in the lineup). 

Tracks to Listen to: If You Love Me,” “I Can’t Tell You Why,” “Grapevyne,” ” 5 Miles to Empty

SWV

What I Love About Them: Let’s be serious: there isn’t a person that you know who doesn’t know the lyrics to SWV’s classic hit, “Weak.” Why? Because as timeless as things get, that song is definitely it. Their name really explains it all: Sisters With Voices. SWV was the group with the feel-good hits. They had a song for when you were sad, when you were happy, when you wanted to get it on (and told your man what to do, he he), and for when you just wanted to jam in the summer, sitting on your stoop on a cool night. Unfortunately tension between the members grew to such a pitch, that they had to just call it quits, but the ladies are making the rounds on the nostalgia circuit and are attempting a comeback (all on reality TV, of course). 

Tracks to Listen to: “Weak,” “Anything,” “Downtown,” “Rain,” “Can We,” “If Only You Knew

En Vogue

What I Love About Them: You can’t talk about girl groups of the ’90s and not mention En Vogue. Let’s face it, En Vogue was the Destiny’s Child of the early ’90s except for the small fact that each lady could (and did) sing lead vocals at any and almost every chance they could. Granted, there were some disparities when it came to certain songs, but the fact of the matter is that these ladies killed — no, murdered every single track they released. It was quite possibly impossible for En Vogue to sound bad. The harmonies, the solos, the hooks, the choruses, the music was just so well executed that these ladies deserve a place not only in best girl group of the ’90s, but of all time. 

Sadly, the ladies couldn’t all get along. It got to the point where they actually split up and created different En Vogue groups (much like how there  were like 10 Temptation groups). Truly a sad demise to such a great group. Hopefully the women will one day realize that their talent is too great to waste on squabbling. 

Tracks to Listen to: Hold On,” “My Lovin’ (Never Gonna Get It),” “Giving Him Something He Can Feel,” “Don’t Let Go,” “Free Your Mind

Honorable Mentions…

TLC

What I Love About Them: They were the highest selling girl group of all time. How could they not make the cut, right? They weren’t at all about showing off vocal acrobatics, but they had tons of energy and their songs were usually fun. If anything, they were socially conscious speaking on any and everything from safe sex, STDs, risky living, body image, and personal relationships. I have to admit, I wasn’t a fan of much of the music they were pushing out when the 2000’s came around, and things weren’t at all the same when Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes died, but you can’t deny that these girls were all the rage in their hayday. 

Tracks to Listen to:Baby-Baby-Baby,” “What About Your Friends,””Creep” “Waterfalls,” “Diggin’ on You” “

Xscape

What I Love About Them: Surprise! T.I.’s wife Tiny actually sang before jumping on the reality TV bandwagon, and she did it well. Along with fellow bandmate-turned-reality star Kandi Burruss, and two other members (LaTocha and Tamika Scott), Tiny made some great music. While LaTocha usually took the lead on the vocals (because she had the major pipes in the group), the other guys definitely added flavor to their Atlanta-based group and picked up a few Grammy Awards for it. Unfortunately, the “Girl Group Curse” hit these ladies hard with tension between singing lead and rumors splitting them apart for good. But they definitely gave tons of songs to chill to in the ’90s and was featured on one of my favorite ’90s MC Lyte hits (“Keep On Keepin’ On)

Tracks to Listen to: My Little Secret,” “Feels So Good,” “Understanding,” “Who Can I Run To,” “Softest Place on Earth” 

Zhane

What I Love About Them: Here was two women… killing it with the vibes. Their music was always something to just bump to or vibe with and with minimal production. Their harmonies are some of the best I’ve listened too, and the best way to describe their sound was “chill.”  To this day, I can’t hear “Hey Mr. D.J.” without jamming out. 

Tracks to Listen to: Hey Mr. D.J.” “Groove Thang,” “Sending My Love,” “Shame

Now, of course there were other notable groups of the ’90s — Jade (“Don’t Walk Away“), The Braxtons (“So Many Ways“), 702 (“Steelo”), and eventually Destiny’s Child (“No No No“) to say the least. I think it’s safe to say that the ’90s definitely delivered when it came to collective female vocals. Sadly a great deal of these groups couldn’t stand the test of time, but thank goodness we have their music to keep us going!

Feeling my list of my ’90s Girl Groups? Talk about it in the comments or let’s chat about it on Twitter

What I’m Diggin’ And What You Should Be Diggin’ Too! — Ear Worm Music Edition

Here’s the deal: I don’t listen to A LOT of new music. Why? Well, I have very particular tastes. While a lot of females will probably get hype in the club over some crunk, booty-poppin’ tune that just came out with absolutely no real lyrics and a hard beat, me… not so much. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being into that kind of music, but unless it’s become a giant ear worm, I can’t get into it.

However, as of late, there are a couple of songs that have been on my radar. And they’re MASSIVE ear worms (to me, anyhow). So much so, that I can’t stop playing them on repeat — which is a good and bad thing because I’ll probably listen to these songs until I became mentally and physically sick of them. Yeah, I know.

Continue reading

Video

Korea’s Got Alot of Seoul… And I’m Diggin’ It! [Music Videos]

Judging by the title of my entry, you can guess that this post is about *drum roll please* Korea (South Korea to be exact)!

I know, you’re probably looking at me like “Wait, you’re a black girl from the West Indies, living in Brooklyn, New York. What can you possibly know about Korea?” But guess what? I know I like their music and even a couple of their movies!

Thanks to modern-day inventions like the internet (and friends with things for cute Asian guys), I’ve been exposed to the wonderful world of K-Pop.

*Disclaimer* I do not presume to be an authority on K-Pop. In fact, I’m still a novice picking and choosing specific songs that catch my ear. With that being said, I will continue on.

A couple years ago, a young woman I’m pretty acquainted with named Elba (who is like a makeup extraordinaire) probably put me on to my first K-Pop song. It was Seung-Ri’s “VVIP.” The reason why I was interested in it? Because I saw a gif of him gyrating his hips on Tumblr and I was intrigued.

YES. I ADMIT IT, damn it! I wanted to see him shake his tush — I’m only human!?!

Anyway, after watching that video, I became even more interested in the Korean music scene. Now, one thing you must know about me is that I “fan girl” over things very quickly and pretty intensely. Once I have feelings about something, that’s it. I have those feelings until they die off, which sometimes happens almost as quickly as they begin (see: Alexander Skarsgard). Another thing you should know: I’m pretty open-minded. While most people would scoff at the notion of listening to music in a language they have NO KNOWLEDGE of, I instead took on the challenge.

Music is universal to me. You can ultimately know what a person is singing just by the tone, and the overall sound. Somber = sad, lamenting,  upbeat = happy, hopeful. It’s not freaking rocket science. Furthermore if Asians can sing along to Beyoncé and Jay Z without feeling any way about it, why can’t I jam to their music?! Another cool thing about K-Pop? Some of the songs feature English words. I guess that would mean they’re singing in KorEnglish, but I digress.

After putting me on to “VVIP,” Elba told me to try another song called “Strong, Baby” (which I fuggin’ LOVED) and then a bunch of tunes by Big Bang, which is the group Seung-Ri or “VI” sings in. She ALSO alerted me to the fact that actor Bi Rain from Ninja Assassinis also a Korean pop singer:

Naturally, I was all like “what?!” That makes no sense. Then I watched a couple of his performances…

and I was like…

“THAT BOY KNOWS HOW TO ROLL HIS HIPS!!!”

And he actually has a song about it.

So in learning ALL of this, I started my own self-paced study into the world of K-Pop. Now, I can bore with the TEDIOUS way in which some of these kids are basically taken from their homes to endure dance and vocal training for years because they can even release a single, but I won’t (but you can read about some of it in this Village Voice article). Instead, I’ll just show you a couple of the songs I’m all about right now.

I’m probably going to try and do this frequently, since I find a new song I like ever so often. So, first on today’s list:

3. Seung-Ri “VI” > “Gotta Talk To U”

Why? Because VI is just getting his sexy on. The suit, the hair, EVERYTHING just works. If I lived in Seoul, I’d throw my panties at him if I saw him on the street. Yes, I went there.

I just love the beat, the guitar at the beginning, the way he just smolders with those eyes…

and makes suggestive movements with his hips…

Yum. VI is proving that he’s all grown up and ready to do sexy bedroom things with the ladies. Plus, the music is dance friendly and the hard remix (at the end of the video) is definitely something I’d jam to at the club.

2. SiStar > Give It To Me

Why? Because I’m really loving Hyolyn (Hyorin?)’s voice. You probably don’t know who I’m talking about, so here’s what she looks like in the video:

She’s basically the main vocals in the chorus and this girl can saaaaaaang. You’re probably not hearing how great she is because you’re completely distracted by the fact that they’re all singing in Korean, but she’s definitely got a voice on her. Don’t believe me? Listen to her sing Beyoncé’s “Halo.” I’ll wait.


Also the song’s just sexy. You kinda just want to give them, whatever “it” is after their sultry begging.

Hyolyn’s actually got this single out now called “One Way Love” that is growing on me. I’ll probably mention in my next K-Pop post…

1. CL > “The Baddest Female”

Why? One, because CL (the lead singer of K-Pop band 2NE1) is an all-around bad ass. This chick has so much swag in this video, I can’t stand it. Her style is amaze balls (which is why she’s fashion designer Jeremy Scott’s muse) and she’s rocking gold fronts with fanged canines like nobody’s business.

Two, I’m IN LOVE with the choreography. As simple as it looks, it’s clean, funky, and makes you want to dance. I dare anyone of you to pick it up, and do it justice.


And besides that, CL’s rapping is cool, I like the flow, and the chorus is easy enough that I can sing along.

All in all, CL is just #werqing it for me. Get it girl!

These are probably the three songs that have been getting the most play on my MP3 player this week, but not the only songs I’m on to. I’ve got a couple other tracks from G-Dragon, Big Bang, 2NE1, Jay Park etc. that I listen to. I’ll let you know which ones are in rotation in my next installment.

As I mentioned before, I’m am NO authority on K-Pop, so I don’t know what’s the latest in music game until it’s too late. So if you’d like to school me on some songs I should be on, feel free to hit a girl up and tell her what’s good!

Con Amor

Something – Entry 7

I want you, the right way…

 My friends and I were looking for a table to sit at and saw a couple empty chairs at a table off to the corner. We were hungry and didn’t want to miss all the mumbo jumbo speeches about the benefits of higher education. Continue reading

Something – Entry 6

All is full of love…

Damn this Bjork song.

Is there such as thing as being addicted to wanting love? I know that there are ‘attention-whores’ but are there ‘love-whores’ out there?

You’ll be given love

For a great deal of my life, I’ve wanted to love and be loved. Being that I was the weird ‘odd-girl-out’ it obviously took a long time to start being noticed for the right reasons. Continue reading

Something – Entry 5

“You look like…a perfect fit…”

I came across his profile online one night, out of sheer boredom. He was a fellow high school alum who was incredibly smart and just as handsome. I think my new found brazen attitude towards meeting people online was getting the best of me. That or I was just trying to battle my loneliness. Either way, I sent him a message and he responded and we corresponded back and forth.

“Excuse me, missy! Now all of a sudden you’re chasing guys?” said one of my girlfriends. Continue reading

Something – Entry 1

“But you didn’t have to cut me off…” 

It plays in the background on repeat and I don’t know what I should do. Should I just take it off? Should I add some Sting and Phil Collins to it, to make the sounds reverberating less depressing? The more I think of the words Gotye sings, the more I think of the things we’ve said to each other. And like that, I free fall into a spiral tunnel, lined with my blood-red rage.

“I want space,” he said to me. Space. What the fuck does that mean? He has space. It’s called ‘air.’ SheeshContinue reading

Xhibit P: My Guilty Pop Pleasure: 80’s Music

MY GUILTY POP PLEASURE: 80S MUSIC

By 
Written By: Afiya Augustine

Your browser may not support display of this image.To continue on the theme of “music,” I will admit to a guilty pop pleasure that I’ve gotten (and still get) a lot of slack for from family members, friends and even a few co-workers. So here it is:  I absolutely, without a doubt, love 80’s Pop. And I don’t mean the classics that artists like Michael Jackson, Prince, or Whitney Houston turned out in the decade of my birth that everyone in the world knows and has on their iPods for good measure. I also don’t mean that I listen to these songs ever so often. When I say I love 80’s Pop, I’m saying that I listen to it maybe every day, as much as I possibly can and actually actively search for more songs to upload to my mp3 player.
I love everything about 80’s pop and sometimes curse my mother for not having me sooner than she did so I could’ve been alive and functioning in the 80’s to hear all this music first hand (though I doubt that would’ve happened, living in the West Indies and all…). I listen to the hits of known legends like Joan Jet and the Blackhearts, Bon Jovi and then the more obscure bands like English Beat (who’s hit ‘Tenderness’ is the end song for the movie ‘Clueless’), Whitesnake, Haircut 100, Psychedelic Furs, Kajagoogoo and the list goes on… 
The problem that lies with my great love of 80’s pop (in all its glorious aged beauty) is that I live in 2011. Music has made brilliant strides with regards to technology and sound since the 80’s and the 80’s definitely had its share of setbacks.  Most notably, the era of bad hair movements including dripping jerry curls, and super teased mountain volume. Having no color coordination was all the rage, and wearing dresses with shoulder pads, puffy shoulders and tacky bubble dresses made of a fabric that makes me cringe at the sound of it. The AIDs and crack epidemic made its break into the world and people were living in over-indulgent lifestyles.
And of course, in the year 2011, 80’s Pop isn’t relevant unless someone does a cover of it (enter Rihanna’s sampling of ‘Tainted Love’ and Flo Rida’s ‘Right Round’  cover/sample of Dead or Alive’s mega hit). 
You can imagine the stares and weird faces I get when I’m driving to the supermarket and I’m blasting Billy Ocean’s ‘Suddenly’ of DeBarge’s ‘All This Love’ with the windows down. According to society, only those who were old enough to appreciate said music should be reveling in its magic, not a 20-something like me who was still on breast-milk when these songs were in their prime. But guess what? I honestly don’t care much for music generated for my generation. Most of today’s rap songs are bragging rights and some of the pop songs of the last five years or so have become billboard ads for gregarious lifestyles that I can’t afford. It’s over-sexed and over priced and I’m not impressed. Popular music now is literally a popularity contest and I’m only interested if a beat or instrumental composition is audibly entertaining. Other than that, I can care less.
I appreciate 80’s Pop for the fun and funky lyrics. Granted, some of it didn’t make much sense, but the focus was on the music and the people it was reaching out to, without a deep-rooted agenda to push something. And as for the music videos, they all told stories…which is something dozen of artists have forgotten to do when releasing singles these days. When I watch Lionel Richie’s  ‘Hello,’ I’m not only singing along but seeing his confusion to get the girl he wants with just the simple start of the word ‘hello.’  And while people make fun of the hair, style and the (in my opinion AWESOME) music, it is all relevant. As “corny, lame and aged” the 80’s may seem, the style is definitely making a reappearance in fashion and some of the songs are coming back with new (albeit not that much better) covers in the current day. I don’t care what anyone says, 80’s pop music is le best.

Xhibit P: My Guilty Pop Pleasure: K-Pop

My Guilty Pop Pleasure: K-Pop

WRITTEN BY AFIYA AUGUSTINE
“My Guilty Pop Pleasure” is an ongoing effort on the XHIBIT P blog to openly address some of the internal conflicts and contradictions that we often feel towards our love for pop culture. If you’d like to be a guest contributor, please contact us.

K-Pop boy band, BIGBANG

That’s right, you read correctly. My guilty pop pleasure is Korean Pop, otherwise known as K-Pop. Now looking at me – a black girl from the West Indies, raised in the notorious rap borough of Brooklyn- you would not think that I would have a thing for music from another part of the world, in another language no less, but I do. I’ll tell you how it all started: one night while watching a mini-marathon of Degrassi (another guilty pleasure for another time) on the N, I stumbled upon the music video for K-Pop Princess BoA. The name of the song was “Eat You Up,” and I was immediately intrigued. She could sing, dance and had style. After a while, however, she disappeared and I have yet to see the video on T.V. again.
BoA “Eat You Up” video:
Months later I stumbled on a copy of The Village Voice, with Jin Young Park, a mega mogul in the Korean entertainment industry on the cover. I have to tell you, I was excited to see this, as I was intrigued by BoA and I wanted to learn more about the culture of K-Pop. The article talked about him trying to launch some of his artists in the states and hoping that he could get them to cross-over into the American music industry. I found his intentions commendable, but I wasn’t too happy with some of the training methods that were going down. It seemed to me that these artists were being manufactured as Asian Hip-Hop knock offs, trained by hip-hop choreographers and enduring singing lessons requiring them to learn English and listen to nothing but Beyonce, Usher, Mariah, Alicia Keys and Keisha Cole. When I told my friends about this, some of them were not pleased.
“Can’t we have something that is genuinely ours?” They demanded. One girl said that she detested the fact that artists feel the need to use hip-hop and R&B culture as a means to break into the industry, using “I can’t stand when [non-blacks] use what is typified as ‘black music,’ to get ahead. These Asians are doing the same thing.” While I tried to tell her that music knows no boundaries, I had to admit that she had a point. I watched videos of some boy bands singing Boys II Men, wearing baggy pants with backward caps, rapping Jay-Z and it left a jarring taste in the mouth.
Years later while mindlessly going through my tumblr dashboard, a girl I knew had a video of a Korean guy dancing. I asked who it was and she (being the K-Pop junkie that she is) pointed me in the right direction, full on with band names, music videos, and some of her favorite songs. And I must admit that while I felt like I was looking at hip-hop through an altered mirror, I found that I couldn’t help but enjoy it. The lyrics (mostly in Korean) are tamer than anything that’s being produced in Hip-hop and R&R at the moment and the beats are infectious. When I walk home from work listening to it on my MP3 player, all I hear and feel is the music. And while they do “borrow” a lot of Hip-Hop and R&B to draw in audience and influence listeners, one thing I HAVE to stress is that they’ve embraced something outside of their own (as I’ve been told) rigid culture and made it their own. I now find it a compliment that Koreans look to ‘black’ music culture and want to be a part of it. Groups like 2NE1 and BigBang have taken elements of hip-hop culture along with other pop culture elements and have dominated the pop charts in Korea and quite a few slots in my MP3 player.

Girls Life Mag: Newest Goal Getter Interview!!

Scientist-in-training Sydney Clark shows the boys how it’s done

 

Think science is only for nerdy boys? Think again! Meet Sydney Clark, the 12-year-old runner up in the National Middle School Science Competition, sponsored by 3M and Discovery Education.


Hailing from Austin, Texas, this home-schooled chick has always had an interest in science. After watching her favorite program, hit T.V. show Myth Busters, Sydney couldn’t wait to tackle the Young Scientist Challenge. The challenge was to create a video about everyday safety. She decided to focus on the public’s love for anti-bacterial products. “It’s important tostress that hospitals use anti-bacterial products,” she says, “but they make way for bigger germs.” The quirky and fun film took her about a month and a half to create with the help of her mother. With stop-and-go animated film clips and Barbie props, she made her point…and impressed the judges. Soon, she was making tracks through the competition. 


The judges chose a semi finalist from each state, and then the 10 semi-finalists were brought to New York City, where they are asked to conduct live experiments, compete in challenges and complete scientific analysis. 3M provided the finalists with the products that they must use. In one challenge called the Safety and Security Innovation, Sydney took on the task of ATM Security by creating a box made with the world’s most efficient translucent man-mad mirror. The thin reflective sheet not only provides the ATM customer with the ability to see through to the push pad to enter their pin, but it also reflects the image of anyone behind them, keeping their bank information completely safe. 


While Sydney did not snag the coveted first place prize, she says the laid-back atmosphere made the event an amazingly fun experience—“the best time I ever had in my life!” She re-calls the judges and coaching staff being “really helpful, really amazing being around and helping on other innovations.” 


Being a runner-up isn’t without its perks, however. “It’s almost as good as winning,” she says of her prize: Flying to San Francisco to be on the set of a live taping of Myth Busters at the end of June. While she’s not sure if she’ll actually get to be on the show, she’s got her fingers crossed! 


Sydney isn’t a 24/7 scientist-in-training—she’s part of the rock group Unsocialized and has dreams of a film or T.V.career. But she does admit that she’d love to incorporate science in the mix and create a show likeMyth Busters or Bill Nye the Science Guy. Why? She’s ready with an answer: “It’s important to get more girls into science,” she says. “I want to let girls know they can do more in the science world and it can be fun changing the world. We can learn more, do more and reach a lot more people.” 
 
 
BY AFIYA AUGUSTINE ON 6/24/2011 8:00:00 AM
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