We’re towards the end of May now, it’s becoming cumbersome to dress in layers and tote around that beloved leather jacket. Which could only mean one thing, summer is here! While everyone is skinning out (as my Jamaican grandparents would say) and getting scantly clad to go outside, there are quite a few forgotten Summertime R&B classics of the 90s that send an automatic rush of nostalgia and might even send us on a quick “feel trip”. The songs below will bring back many memories of the 90s and ultimately make you upset that there isn’t a such thing as the freaknik anymore. Extra points to anyone reading this who knows what freaknik was.
Are you ready!?!
Ghost Town DJ’s – “My Boo”
Way back in 1996, you were bound to hear this bumpin’ out of everyone’s car. Now thanks to the popularity of the Running Man Challenge, it’s a safe bet that you’ll hear it like clockwork this Summer too.
This can be considered bitter sweet if you ask me. It seems like nobody really understands how monstrous of a smash this was when it came out. Nor do people understand and appreciate the genius of Jermaine Dupri and his So So Def Bass All-Stars compilations, where the track was originally featured.
The Ghost Town DJ’s were a group that Lil’ Jon (of Lil’ Jon and The Eastside Boyz) found while he was working at So So Def as an A&R. The song became a skating rink, block party, college campus, car cruising smash, and has always been one of my favorite songs from my childhood.
The song also set a trend a drum and bass trend in R&B that would run on for a few years. If you aren’t familiar with the origins of the Southern style approach to music at that time and the effect on the current music climate, then that’s a discussion for later. It’s amazing that 20 years later, this song is back on the charts, all thanks to the Running Man Challenge. I know Jermaine Dupri is somewhere enjoying those checks.
KP & Envyi – “Swing My Way”
This track picked up where Ghost Town DJ’s left off. In 1998, KP & Envyi hit all of us in the chest this infectious, danceable love song. How many times have you been at a club, cookout, or even at the mall and just wanted this one specific person to “swing your way” so you could talk to them? It was an amazing sentiment that we really didn’t hear come from a female perspective.
It made guys feel good about themselves because for once, the tables were turned. Instead of men singing to women trying to swoon and win them over, ladies were now singing to us. Nowadays people may be familiar with the intro of this song due to Bryson Tiller’s “Exchange” single, but let me inform you that this was a hit way before Bryson became a thing.
Adina Howard – “Freak Like Me”
I think Adina Howard deserves much more credit than she gets. At a time where females in R&B weren’t very rebellious, sexual, and unrestricted, Adina came to the forefront with very honest intentions and openly expressed the type of guy she was looking for.
Meanwhile, her other counterparts were in sequence dresses singing like they’re at a school talent show. Before there was Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, Rihanna or Nicki Minaj, there was Adina. Plus, she was super fly, the outfits in this video were so dope and she rocked the short cut. Women who were brave enough to rock the short cut back then get all my respect. Salute to Ms. Howard, I still have childlike dreams about you.
Ray J – “Wait A Minute” (Feat. Lil Kim)
While most of us know Ray J for his home videos and reality television antics, people forget that Ray J has given us a slew of bangers. He came out of nowhere with “Wait A Minute” over a very sneaky The Neptunes-produced beat.
You can’t hate on that. I love the fact he embraced the whole “Isn’t that Brandy’s brother” stigma straight out of the gate. I wish Ray J would give us another one of these hits, maybe him and Stevie J can link up and create some fire. Until then, we have throwbacks like this to enjoy and cut a rug to.
Missy Elliot – “Sock It 2 Me” (Feat. Da Brat)
From the production, to the music video, to the overall vocals laid on this track — everything is perfect and brings back crazy nostalgia. Missy Elliot and Timbaland’s run during the late ’90s and early ’00s is something we don’t show enough appreciation at all. After Jodeci stepped away from the spotlight, it was time for the hybrid of R&B and Hip-Hop to evolve.
Enter Missy & Timbaland, who studied under Jodeci’s Devante swing and took things to a completely futuristic level. It was dark, it was funky, it was jiggy and infectious. I remember watching this particular video and feeling like I was in a real live video game. The Mega Man references and sonics that sounded like Godzilla stepping through your living room…. I get excited every time I hear this.
Janet Jackson – “That’s The Way Love Goes”
Janet Jackson – “If”
If it’s one thing I feel like this current generation is missing when it comes to pop culture, it’s iconic music videos like these two. It looks like they had an amazing time filming the “That’s The Way Love Goes” video. With cameos from a young Jennifer Lopez and a couple members of L.A. gangster rap group Boo Yaa T.R.I.B.E., this video served as a first look into Janet’s more sultry, adult look and everyone full in love with it.
I vividly remember women changing their whole wardrobe once this video came out. Guys too, the video really was a visual style mood board. I still watch this video and get inspiration from it. Janet’s run in the 90s was majestic. “If” took things to another level, the futuristic nightclub look was crazy, the choreography is still elite more than 20 years later. Please young artists, bring back great videos like this. The culture is depending on it.
If you have any other classic R&B jams that excite you for this oncoming season, please be sure to share them in the comments or hit me on twitter @killTURNHERkill.