Anniversary, History, Interview, Review

25 Years Of “Freedom”: The Top R&B Divas Of The 90’s Unite To Create Epic Black Girl Magic

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In fall of 1995, more than 60 female musicians traveled to Capitol Records in Los Angeles, where they recorded both the vocals and the visuals to the ground-breaking single, “Freedom“, on the same day. The single was the title track to the Mario Van Peebles directed movie, ‘Panther‘, based on the Black Panther Party.

Women’s publication Zora gave us a well documented account of events of how this historic masterpiece came together. The song was originally recorded by the singer Joi for her debut album, produced by Dallas Austin. It was later picked up, reconceptualized, and released as ‘Panther’s official theme song.

Former label executive Ed Ecksein says having a record featuring all women sent a message about the film before it even hit theaters. “The power behind the organization was women. The backbone behind the organization was women,” he says. “So we needed to do something similar on the soundtrack as we did for the BMU record (Black Men United).”

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The actual day of the track’s recording required ultimate levels of coordination and an understanding of how and why to stagger artists’ arrivals and recording schedules to avoid overlaps. There were camera crews, food service, hair and makeup, but no egos in sight.

Even with stars like Queen Latifah, Vanessa Williams, MC Lyte, Mary J Blige, Aaliyah, Brownstone, Salt-N-Pepa, Patra, XScape, and En Vogue in the house, A&R Sam Sapp remembers this remarkable tidbit: “Everyone was in the same room, and there was no VIP area.”

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TLC were determined to be a part of this amazing project but were unable to be there at the same time as the other artists, so they recorded their parts at a later date and were edited into the final mix.

In order to work around Left Eye‘s probation-related travel restrictions Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins says the trio recorded vocals in a local Atlanta studio and filmed the video from the conference room at LaFace Records.

“It was the most amazing thing to have my fist pumped and have on this hat that had a Black ballplayer and a ball on the front and represent,” she says. “It made you feel so proud to be Black. It was an awesome thing to be a part of.”

The record was also a game changer in that both an R&B and a rap version were featured on the soundtrack. Sapp says artists were freestyling to the instrumental while waiting to record, and they commissioned the “Dallas’ Dirty Half Dozen Mix” on the spot.

The “Freedom” single was a top charter on the ‘Panther’ soundtrack, peaking at #10 on Billboard’s R&B Singles Chart and snagging the #45 spot on the Hot 100.

While there may not be as many Black women artists today, they are still making their mark in music. For the first time in history, four Black female soloists recently occupied the Hot 100’s top two slots (Doja Cat‘s “Say So” remix with Nicki Minaj took the top spot, with Megan Thee Stallion and Beyonce‘s “Savage” remix at the second spot).

As for another Black woman collective recording in the future, “Freedom” artists are passing the torch.

“It should be another song now with the new generation of artists that would show people that we’re sticking together,” T-Boz says. “I think it’s needed again, especially with the state of the world today.”

Read the full story from Zora here.

Artists featured on “Freedom”:

Aaliyah, Amel Larrieux, Brownstone, Jade, Blackgirl, SWV, Monica, MC Lyte, Salt-N-Pepa, Mary J Blige, Tanya Blount, Changing Faces, En Vogue, TLC, Felicia Adams, Joi, N’Dea Davenport, For Real, Zhane, Eshe, Queen Latifah, Billy Lawrence, Lalah Hathaway, Brigette McWilliams, Miss Jones, Me’Shell NdegéOcello, Pebbles, Patra, Chantay Savage, Sonja Marie, Xscape, Terri & Monica, Y?N-Vee, Vanessa Williams, Karyn White, Caron Wheeler, Crystal Waters, Vybe, Tracie Spencer, Brenda Russell, Sweet Sable, Raja-Nee, Pure Soul, Nefertiti, Natasha, Yo-Yo, Cindy Mizelle, Milira, Da 5 Footaz, Emage, E.V.E, Penny Ford, Jazzyfatnastees.

Appearance, Review, Television

T-Boz Reprises Her Role As Sheila On Days With A Secret Baby… But Who’s The Daddy?

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Tionne Watkins, Lamon Archey “Days of our Lives” Set NBC Studios Burbank 09/17/19 © XJJohnson/jpistudios.com 310-657-9661 Episode # 13820 U.S.Airdate 04/01/20

So the rumors were true, TionneT-Boz” Watkins did indeed return to her role as Sheila Watkins on the hit NBC soap Days Of Our Lives! We teased her return back in November 2019, which left fans of her character excited to have her back in Salem.

On this return, Sheila has a major announcement to make — she had a baby in her time away from Salem, and needs help to find the baby, which has been kidnapped. She needs her baby daddy to give her that help — so turns up at the door of Eli Grant (Lamon Archey)!

Eli is shocked to see Sheila back in town, and even more shocked to learn that she is claiming he is the father to her baby daughter. Lani Price (Sal Stowers) is also shocked, before Eli admits that it is a possibility as he had a one night stand with Sheila before she left town.

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Eli makes some calls to his friends at the FBI and learns about a baby smuggling ring in Salem, which his new baby could have been a victim of. Meanwhile, we learn that Leo has arranged to have the baby snatched and attempts to sell her to Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith) and Will Horton (Chandler Massey). Ben Weston (Robert Scott Wilson) appears at the Kiriakis mansion with a little baby girl of color. He didn’t know the package would be a baby.

Sheila bursts into the room with Eli to rescue her baby and confront Leo for his actions. “Man, I can’t believe your bitch ass is behind this. And I thought the two of us were tight”, Sheila screams. Leo claims he didn’t know this was Sheila’s baby. Sheila continues, “But the only reason you dragged me to drag queen bingo is so you could kidnap my baby. And I lost 40 bucks. Don’t ever come near us again.” She and Eli leave with their baby.

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Sheila and Eli break the news to Lani to announce they wish to be together to allow their baby daughter to have both parents together.

Lani detects something isn’t right about Sheila’s story, insisting they carry out a paternity test. Sheila quickly admits she lied and is immediately greeted by her new husband, Dr. Daniel Jonas (Shawn Christian), the allegedly deceased son of Maggie Kiriakis. He claims that Sheila was pregnant before they met, leaving questions about who the father really was if it wasn’t Eli or Daniel.

They are then greeted by Lani’s father, Abe Carver (James Reynolds). Sheila quickly informs him that he indeed is the father to her child, and that he was conceived on her last day in Salem after his 2019 Mayoral Debate. “Come a say hi to your new daughter, Baby Sheila“, Sheila gushes. Abe is left speechless.

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This all sounds too good to be true, right? Well, we fast forward to the final scene of the episode which aired on April 1st. Sonny walks in to find Leo in bed with his husband, which ends with Leo saying “April Fools!” to the camera!

That’s right, this unrealistic episode was a one off prank made for April Fools Day on April 1st. This also means that won’t be seeing Sheila return for a quite a while. However, stranger things have happened. Let’s hope she makes a genuine return to the show soon.

Announcement, Interview, Music, Review

JPEGMAFIA Covers A TLC Classic On His Latest Album

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The whole world loves a little bit of TLC, so it’s no surprise at all that their influence is present in so many of today’s music artists. One of the recent nods to the trio was their hit “Waterfalls” being covered by the coaches on ‘The Voice‘.

The love continues in many forms of covers and samples well into 2019. Last week, DJ Lauren Lane released her exclusive remix for “Creep“. EQT/Universal Music recording artist JPEGMAFIA dropped his third album, ‘All My Heroes Are Cornballs‘ on September 13.

BasicBitchTearGas” happens to be a cover of a TLC classic, “No Scrubs.”

The one-minute track, which could easily beat the Lil Nas X record of being the shortest recorded track ever, cuts out a sizeable chunk of the original, while heavily filtered growls populate the new arrangement of his new form of glitch-hop.

The Baltimore rapper elaborated on his choice to cover TLC on Apple Music: “I always told myself that one day I’d do a cover of ‘No Scrubs’ and I just wanted to make that a reality. Bucket list-type shit. I love this song, man. It’s one of the best songs ever written.”

“And I really like re-contextualizing songs that mean a lot to people, like pop music, because it exposes the reality of these songs. That these songs are EXCELLENT — regardless of how popular they are and regardless of the narrative that’s been built around some of these songs, these are excellently-written, beautiful songs, and I wanna take time to appreciate them.”

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Earlier this year, Weezer covered “No Scrubs” and performed it at Coachella with Chilli. “I just thought it’s one of those songs that’s freakishly popular,” frontman Rivers Cuomo said. “I was trying to decide which gender perspective to sing it from then I saw this tweet that said, ‘If you’re a guy covering a song by a girl, you gotta keep the pronouns. For those three minutes you’re gay.‘ So I was like, ‘Cool, let’s try this.’”

Chilli previously talked about the universality of “No Scrubs” in an interview with Billboard. “‘No Scrubs’ is an empowerment anthem,” she said. “The reason I knew [the song] was going to be big because what it’s talking about is so relatable to every woman in America. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, scrubs come in all shapes, sizes and colors. So it was just a universal song that every woman can high-five each other with.”

What do you think of JPEGMAFIA’s take on “No Scrubs”?

Announcement, Music, News, Review

TLC Co-Sign 2019 Dance Remix of “Creep” By DJ Lauren Lane

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International DJ Lauren Lane may have dropped techy beats on stages from Coachella to Ibiza, but deep down, she’s just a TLC-lovin’ ’90s kid like a lot of us.

That’s why she’s snagging some of the girl group’s CrazySexyCool energy and launching her label, Recreation, with a bumpin’ club remix of the 1994 hit “Creep.”

T-Boz‘s familiar infidelity bounces with new verve over a steady tech-house beat. It’s less slinky than the original with a lot more late-night rave mischief.

The remix has been officially sanctioned by TLC’s surviving members, and Lane called the co-sign nothing short of “an honor.”

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Lauren Lane

Lane’s take on “Creep” is out Friday, Sept. 13, on Recreation, but the DJ and producer put together a hypnotizing visualizer exclusively for Billboard Dance that you can check out below.

What do you think of this updated 2019 club remix of TLC classic?