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From The Vault: Khia – ‘My Neck, My Back’

This week’s From The Vault serves up “filthy” in earnest. And we’re unapologetic too. For, there’s something to be said when such a risque cut wraps it’s legs around Pop culture, gripping it until the masses can’t but sing along. No, we’re not talking about Rihanna and Chris Brown‘s ill-prepared ‘Birthday Cake’.

We’re talking Khia‘s ‘My Neck, My Back (Lick It)’.

Released over 10 years ago from the femcee’s ‘Thug Misses’ debut, ‘Neck’ has become somewhat of an underground classic and easily rapper’s most renown effort to date. Reaching the 4th position of the UK Official Singles Chart and peaking inside the Top 50 of Billboard’s Hot 100, the “pleasure-manual” is considered by many a guilty pleasure. For as “taboo” as it may be for some, it’s near-impossible to deny the track’s heavy dose of “infectious”.

Diane Martel was tapped to direct the song’s pool-party video. And, though another promo visual (featuring models in bikini’s lipsynching to the track) was later commisioned (the ultimate shade, right?), we’d much rather see the self-proclaimed Queen of the South show folk how to “do it, do it” herself.

Enjoy… just make sure mom is not around when you hit ‘PLAY’!

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From The Vault: Jodeci – ‘Love U 4 Life’

From The Vault this week journey’s back to the mid 1990’s, a time where urban super-groups such as Boyz II Men, Blackstreet and Xscape were setting the charts alight.

Today’s pick comes courtesy of R&B legends Jodeci‘s ‘Love U 4 Life’.

The mellow serenade was released as the second offering of the boys’ third and last album, ‘The Show, The After Party, The Hotel’ back in 1995. It charted at #31 on the Billboard Hot 100 while faring much better on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles tally at #8.

‘Love’ is considered an all-time classic by many a music lover which is partly due to its epic accompanying video. The big-budget affair sees Run DMC’s very own Rev Run officiating a lavish wedding ceremony between group member Dalvin DeGrate and then girlfriend Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins from the mighty TLC. (side note: there is also a brief cameo by Timbaland and pals Ginuwine, Magoo and Playa).

With only three album released during their 5 year tenure, the quartet has established itself as a landmark in R&B music and has inspired a new breed of singers. Still, although the 00’s saw the rise of bands such as 112 and Jagged Edge – who we must say took many pages from the Jodeci book, and rightfully so – nothing ever came close to the real thing.

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From The Vault: Gabrielle – ‘Dreams’

In honour of our Best Of British week, today’s From The Vault pick is an all-time UK classic, ‘Dreams’ by Gabrielle.

By unleashing this single as her debut during Spring 1993, the songbird (then 23) achieved something every artist wishes for with their first effort: scoring a hit song that would not only be a fixture in your homeland, but which one would garner recognition the world over.

Indeed, the rousing mid-tempo reached the top spot of the UK Singles Charts, but it also went up to the second position of the Australian Singles Charts, it climbed to #11 in France and peaked at #26 on the US Billboard Charts. It’s accompanying album ‘Find Your Way’ was also a blockbuster success.

Gabrielle is yet another case, point, example of the brilliance the Britannia has to offer. From her unique look (see: eyepatch) to her distinctive vocal and songwriting ability, she was (and very much is) a world-class talent. A fact not shaken nor stirred by the contained nature of her success.

We hear the singer’s sixth album is near completion and we for one can’t wait!

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From The Vault: Spice Girls – ‘Holler’

This week’s From The Vault video comes courtesy of the Spice Girls.

Released in October 2000 as the first single from ‘Forever’ their first and final album as a quartet (following the departure of ‘Ginger Spice’ Geri Halliwell), ‘Holler’ was yet another #1 UK hit for the ladies.

It, however, never reached the doors of the Billboard Hot 100, which was a first for a Spice single.

‘Holler’ and the ‘Forever’ era, more wholly, represented a double-edged sword of sorts for the Girl Power ambassadors. For, though the material was qualitatively superior to prior releases, the appealing campiness and “care-free” of their heyday had been replaced by a glossier, sexier image and a less adventurous sound.

In the eyes of many, this safer approach was that since their last chart assault in 98, the industry had drastically changed, slowly turning its back to Pop-bands, while opening itself to Urban music.

Still, few can deny that the four remaining members did delivered a stellar addition to their catalogue with the Darkchild produced cut. Its accompanying video, which boasted a Four Elements-theme, was directed by Jake Nava – and saw Mel B in particular dripping all sorts of swagu.

No matter what the worldwide charts say, ‘Holler’ stands as one of the greatest offerings from one of Pop’s  greatest groups of all time.

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With confirmation from Scary Spice this week that a brief reunion is in the pipeline for the Spice Moms, 2012 is shaping up to be the year of the “female-band”. From X Factor winners Litte Mix, to the return of the original Sugababes, could the second wave of ‘Girl Power’ be nigh? Time will tell.

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From The Vault: Salt-N-Pepa & En Vogue – ‘Whatta Man’

This week, From The Vault journey’s back to the 90’s with a Pop-Culture classic, the divas showdown which saw Salt-N-Pepa and En Vogue ask ‘Whatta Man’.

One of the biggest hits of  1994, as well as a highlight in both the groups’ respective careers, ‘Man’ was a Top 10 smash both in the US and the UK.

Directed by Matthew Rolston, the song’s accompanying video is gutsy and bodacious. To put it bluntly, the ladies shut it down.

Rightfully so, such brilliance was rewarded with a MTV Video Music Award for Best Choreography courtesy of the Frank Gaston. (Sidenote: En Vogue still stand as the female group with the most VMA wins to this day).

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With femcees popping up left and right as of late (see: Nicki Minaj, Kreyshawn, Azealia Banks), we can’t help but think now would be the aptest of times for another Hip-Hop female collective to build on what Salt-N-Pepa achieved.

As for En Vogue, we hear the Funky Divas are cooking up a new album. Yet, once again, Dawn Robinson has struck herself out of the equation (citing a wack contract). Sad, as having seen the ladies live recently, they still have “it” in abundance. Such a shame.

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From The Vault: Pink – ‘Most Girls’

Before Pink the lit up the Pop-Rock arena, Ms. Alicia Moore served as one of R&B’s most promising talents.

From The Vault this week journey’s back to the star’s second ever single, ‘Most Girls’.

Penned by the one and only Babyface, ”Girls’ was the most successful single to be lifted from Pink’s 2000 stellar debut, ‘Can’t Take Me Home’, peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, #5 on the UK Official Singles Chart and reaching the top of the Australian ARIA Charts.

The cut’s accompanying visual was an MTV-favorite, cementing her “no-nonsense” character and showcasing her oft-underrated ability as a choreographed performer. Edgy, gutsy, and unapologetic, the video embodies all that we’ve come to love of this (still) soulful songstress.

And, although chances are slim to none, how exciting would it be to see Pink dabble in R&B again – even if for one song only? The raspy nature of her voice lends itself so well to such style; making it such a shame she abandoned it altogether. Still, whatever the genre, the unique package she presents both vocally and image-wise, make her one of popular music’s most compelling artists.

Bring on album #6!

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From The Vault: Beyonce Soars At Grammy’s 2004


“Later on in my destiny, I see myself having your child”

With fans and celebs alike rejoicing at the arrival of Beyonce‘s baby girl Blue Ivy, we thought it the aptest of occasions to travel back in time to relive one of the new-mom’s most defining moments.

This week’s From The Vault pick is the live performance her 2003 classic ‘Dangerously In Love’ at the Grammys 2004.

King Bey won 5 of her 16 Grammys on that night, one of them being for the said song.

Backed by a larger-than-life animated painting, the megastar delivered a vocally flawless rendition of the track. Notably more passionate, raw, and honest than the recorded version, she performed with such intensity and conviction that one can’t but feel what she felt for those 4 minutes.

Stunning stuff.

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