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From The Vault: Maroon 5 & Rihanna – ‘If I Never See Your Face Again’

Today, From The Vault journeys back to a time when Rihanna was only beginning to embrace her “bad gyal” persona. This week’s pick is her joint single with Maroon 5 ‘If I Never See Your Face Again.’

Originally sung solely by M5’s frontman Adam Levine and included on the band’s second LP ‘It Won’t Be Soon Before Long,’ ‘Face’ received quite the facelift when chart Queen RiRi was added to the mix.

The collaborative remix was dually serviced as a single from the re-release of Levine and co’s album as well as from Ms. Fenty’s ‘Good Girl Gone Bad.’

Produced by Tricky Stewart and Mike Elizondo, it was first intended as a duet with Janet Jackson which couldn’t materialize because of label issues.

A moderate hit for its headlining acts, it cracked the US Top 40 during Summer 2008 and climbed to number 28 in the UK; still, it managed to peak at #11 and #12 in Australia and Canada respectively.

RiRi’s frequent collaborator Anthony Mandler directed the song’s visual which focused heavily on editorial shots of sexy Rihanna, dapper Adam, and their titillating (yet understated) teasing.


Some, at the time, christened this collaboration random, yet it still “worked.”

Evidence, ladies and gents, of how Team Rih have successfully managed to broaden her brand and secure her place as the resident crossover crusader.

We wish more artists would follow that route and mix and match up for diversity. The results, as highlighted here, can be bliss.

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From The Vault: R. Kelly – ‘Step In The Name Of Love’

Say what folk will about R. Kelly, there’s no denying that his talent is unparalleled in the industry. Whether crooning, preaching, or partying, the man has blessed us with some of the most resonating music of the past 20 years.

Today’s From The Vault finds him stepping and spreading positivity the world over. This week’s pick is 2003’s ‘Step In The Name Of Love.’

The final single from the crooner’s fifth studio album ‘Chocolate Factory,’ the song serves as a celebration of love and also pays homage to the Chicago-birthed dance style “stepping.”

Like the entirety of its parent album, the cut was produced by Kelly and was a chart hit for the maestro peaking at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100; it also claimed the top spot of the Billboard Hot Hip-Hop/R&B Singles – his last effort to do so to date.


The video for the single was directed by Little X and is set at an elaborate boat party. Mr Kelly can be seen serenading the ladies (as her has for length of his career) before everyone reports to the dance floor for the classic instructional stepping dance break. For the last sequence of the visual, the singer gets all Zorro on us and freestyles by himself on the deserted boat. Class act!


Kellz’ ability to go from turn-up to classy and back has always been fascinating to us. Indeed it’s mind-blowing how he can seamlessly service a “fresh out the kitchen” remix to ‘Ignition’ only to effortlessly evoke gentleman with his stepping shoes…all on the same album.

It might sound trivial to some, but not many R&B artists have managed to master that craft; the newcomers have opted to ban most things “heartfelt” and focus on getting lit, crunk and faded.

Yet, R. Kelly reminds the best of the bunch can (and perhaps should) do it all!

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From The Vault: Mya – ‘Free’

From The Vault salutes the criminally underrated Mya this week; our pick is her colorful tune ‘Free.’

In late 2000, following the success of ‘Case Of The Ex’, the singer seized the moment to re-release her sophomore album ‘Fear Of Flying’ with two new tracks. ‘Free’ comprised half of the double helping and was serviced as the album’s third single. It was also part of the soundtrack for Jamie Foxx’s ‘Bait’ movie.

Upon its arrival, the track drew many comparisons to Janet Jackson’s early work; understandable as it was produced by Jackson’s partners in rhyme Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.

Sadly, it never lit up the charts like Janet’s early hits. Nor was it in reaching distance of ‘Case’s success. Instead, the funky cut had to settle for a #42 peak on the Billboard Hot 100 and #52 on the Hip-Hop/R&B tally.
Internationally it fared better, reaching #11 on the UK Singles Charts and the 4th position in Australia.

The ever dynamic Dave Meyers was tapped to direct the song’s video resulting in a vivaciously glossy affair.

Mya is seen transporting through different eras, which is accentuated by the fashion displayed but also the dynamite dancing throughout the visual. Special salute to the “locking” segment; the artist and her dancers went all the way off.


Nothing irks us more than witnessing artists with the “full-package” struggle to garner recognition from record labels or radio executives. Though not a powerhouse vocalist, Mya is a more than capable singer, a skilled and versatile dancer, and a passionate performer. To this day we still ask ourselves when and where did it go wrong. Sure, she’s achieved commendable success on the indie circuit, but the reality is that her talent almost demands to be seen by the largest audience.

Anyway, we’ll keep hoping for a chart resurgence of some sort for this incredible act. She’s way overdue for another hit.

Mya, we’re ready when you are!

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From The Vault: Michelle Williams – ‘We Break The Dawn’

This week’s From The Vault comes courtesy of Michelle Williams and her 2008 debut secular solo single ‘We Break The Dawn.’

After the end of Destiny’s Child, the ladies went on with their respective careers: Beyonce pursued acting and of course music; Kelly Rowland serviced her sophomore effort ‘Ms. Kelly; and, to everyone’s surprise, Michelle released her first non-gospel project, the aptly-titled ‘Unexpected’. The electro-tinged ‘Dawn’ served as its lead single.

Penned by Solange Knowles and produced by Wayne Wilkins and Adam Frampton, Michelle’s first solo foray into the mainstream arena saw her score a US Hot Dance Airplay chart-topper. The song also managed a Top 50 placing on the Official UK Singles Chart. It never charted inside the US Billboard Hot 100 and wasn’t exploited the way it could have been overseas. Occurrences some cite politics and a lack of adequate promotion to explain.


Directed by Phil Griffin, the track’s visual saw Williams and her dancer friends turn up on empty night streets. Sporting a new look and a refreshed image, the songstress looked like a million bucks in the visual which reached #1 on the MTV Base video countdown chart.

After returning to faith based music with her fourth effort ‘Journey To Freedom’, it seems Williams secular days are gone. Arguably prematurely, as ‘Unexpected’ makes for a compelling listen; one that showcases the singer’s versatility and viability  as a solo star.

Still, we’d like to know, would YOU be up for an ‘Unexpected’ follow up? Or is Michelle strutting her destined lane already?

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From The Vault: Beyonce – ‘Upgrade U’

September 4th.

This week’s From The Vault celebrates not one but, two milestones. For, the date marks the birthday of one of Pop culture’s brightest stars as well as the 10th anniversary of her sophomore effort.

Suffice to say, today’s pick comes courtesy of Beyonce and her infectious single ‘Upgrade U’ from her funkified ‘B’Day’ LP.

The hard-hitting cut saw Bey partner up with producer Swizz Beatz, songwriter Sean Garrett, and bae-turned-husband Jay Z.

Though the power couple had professed their infatuation with each other on prior releases, this instance centered on one-up-man-ship. Indeed, Bey and Jay traded vivacious verses about how necessary they were to the other. Both personally and professionally.

In being shamelessly materialistic, the track still managed to maintain the singer’s fervent feminist stance. Because at every utterance, she made it known that she had her own, was her own, and is such a catch that Jay could no longer be alone.

Commercially, the song was only released in the US as a promotional single. As such, it was a minor hit on the Billboard Hot 100 – peaking at #59. It was, however, a Top 20 smash on the Hot Hip-Hop/R&B chart where it reached the 11th position.


‘Formation’ director and good friend Melina Mastoukas took the helm of the jam’s shinny video alongside Queen Bey.

In order to accentuate the luxurious lure of the song’s lyrics, Ms Carter is seen cavorting amidst expensive goods such as jewelry, diamonds and gold watches. All the while remaining the hottest commodity herself.

Never one to disappoint as a performer, the diva delivered with choreography and slickly hit her steps like a seasoned pro. As with the track, the visual and the movement therein have become iconic.


If the 10 years leading up to ‘B’Day’ were used to establish Beyonce as “the hottest chick in the game,” the decade that followed saw her become an icon, a Pop culture force, and a undeniable legend in the making.  An enviable status achieved through sheer showmanship, philanthropy, and – above all – a dutiful dedication to her craft.

In recent times, “unpredictable” has become a Beyonce trademark. As such we’re  buckled up for what the decade ahead holds for music’s reigning royal. We imagine, there’ll be more surprise and excitement on the horizon.

So with that…

Happy anniversary to this R&B classic and the album it sits on. And the Happiest Birthday to Beyonce!

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From The Vault: Monica – ‘So Gone’

If there’s one guarantee with social media, it’s that there’s no such thing as predictability. This week’s From The Vault celebrates that with Monica‘s recently revived ‘So Gone’ – the 2003 hit behind the popular #SoGoneChallenge.

After ironically struggling to garner attention with the shelved ‘All Eyes On Me’ in 2002, the R&B belle went back to the studio to cook up a second incarnation of the album. Clocking time with producers such as Missy Elliott, Mo was ready to re-rev the campaign’s engine in 2003. ‘After The Storm’ was the new title and ‘Gone’ served as its lead single.

It was the first time the singer unleashed the MC in her, which would somewhat became a habit for her from then on.

Released to rave reviews, the throwback cut – which samples The Whispers ‘You Are Number One’ – saw the R&B diva return to chart glory. The cut peaked at #10 on the US Top 10 and #1 on the Hip-Hop/R&B tally. It was also a Top 20 hit in Canada.


For the Chris Robinson directed visual, Mo’ got her crazy on, playing the role of a suspicious girlfriend who goes quite literally insane thinking her lover is cheating on her.

Though we would have preferred it was by way of her latest album ‘Code Red,’ we’re glad Monica’s name is on everyone’s lips again.

Who knows how this whole #SoGoneChallenge came about, but we’re glad more people are taking part in it.

We love it when the today’s consumers appreciate the greatness of previous eras in music; so color us excited about the resurgence of this R&B classic by a highly gifted and enduring artist.

Monica, we salute you

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From The Vault: Craig David – ‘Seven Days’

Before Adele, Coldplay and Amy Winehouse, a young name from Southhampton was the one waving the British flag on a worldwide scale. His name’s Craig David and today we salute him on From The Vault.

This week’s pick is ‘Seven Days.’

Serviced as the second single from the singer’s debut ‘Born To Do It’, ‘Days’ was written and composed by Mark Hill alongside the David – like the large majority of the LP.

Thematically, the song retraced the week-long romancing of a newfound love interest. To this day, it’s Craig’s biggest hit and is considered his signature song.

Wildly successful on home soil, where it debuted at #1 with sales of 100,000 units, but was also a worldwide smash peaking at #10 in the US, #4 in Australia and #9 in Canada. Not bad at all for a R&B newbie in a Britney and N’Sync dominated landscape.

The music video, directed by Max and Dania, had a ‘Groundhog Day’ theme with Craig reliving the same day over and over until he finally gets with “the” girl he met on the street.

Popular the world over, the clip was nominated for Best Video at the 2001 BRIT Awards, but lost to Robbie Williams‘Rock DJ.’

Thereafter, David’s success was heavily concentrated in the UK — despite a marked effort to further break into the American market with his sophomore album.

Now, after a hiatus of sorts (which ironically saw him relocate to Miami), the gifted star is back. With new album ‘Following My Intuition’ due in stores on September 30th, the moral of the story is to never count out authentic talent.

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