What is now commonly referred to as one of the golden ages in music, the ’90s saw the emergence of many great R&B acts such as Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, and Usher. These artists helped catapult R&B music into a greater stratosphere, yet many would say what made this musical era so special were the amazing groups that took the industry by storm with their amazing harmonies, dance moves, and industry-changing sounds.
Here is a nod to the R&B groups that we miss the most.
Releasing their debut album in 1993, Xscape emerged on the scene with a sound all of their own. Influenced by the New Jack Swing and Hip Hop Soul sound of New York, they infused the southern sounds of Atlanta’s own Jermaine Dupri So So Def movement with a gospel tremor that put them on the cutting edge of R&B. With songs like “Just Kickin’ It,” “Do You Want To,” and Diane Warren penned track “The Arms of the One Who Loves You,” they portrayed themselves as self-assured women who not only loved their men but demanded that love back in return. While we still see some of the girls from Xscape in the public eye (Kandi and Tiny on hit Reality TV shows The Atlanta House Wives and T.I. and Tiny many Xscape fans still long for a reunion for the powerhouse group.
This Bad Boy trio known as Kima, Keisha, and Pam debuted in 1996. Fueled by hit-maker Sean “Diddy” Combs, they captivated their audience with a sexy, slick, and savvy sound that made them a hot commodity within the music world. Their first single which featured the Notorious B.I.G. “Can’t You See” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard R&B charts and No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. Only releasing two albums, Total left many fans in disarray as they all seemed to into seclusion. While it would have been great to see them release more albums, their contributions to R&B music will never be forgotten as they do have the honor of saying they are the only people to have gotten both Foxy Brown and Lil’ Kim on the same track and video as well.
This quartet composed of Sisqo, Jazz, Nokio, and Woody hit the scene in the late ’90s with their debut album, Dru Hill, in the fall of 1996. Many saw them as the new age Boys II Men or Jodeci. Their suave looks and moves tantalized their legion of female fans. Through their reign in the R&B world, Dru Hill managed to score a slew of R&B top 10 hits as well as platinum albums. While still high on their success lead singer Sisqo decided to go solo and garnished major success on his own while the group seemed to go underground. After his solo success, Sisqo too seemed to go missing from the music industry only leaving us with their earlier works to lend our ear to.
Arguably the most important group from the ’90s, TLC created a sound that was like no other, marrying R&B, Hip-Hop, and Pop along with social consciousness they were light years ahead of their time. While selling over 65 million albums worldwide, TLC easily became one of the top-selling female groups of all time as their futuristic sound made them true trend setters. Unfortunately, in 2002 Left Eye died in a car crash that took the music industry by storm almost stopping the production of what would become the group’s last album 3D. T-Boz and Chilli honored their falling group member with the album using some of her unreleased vocals to complete 3D.
Blazing on the scene in 1998, Destiny’s Child (originally a quartet) took the music world by storm. Paired with the flare of TLC and the vocal styling of R&B powerhouse girl groups such as Xscape — with pop appeal — Destiny’s Child seemed to be the R&B perfection. Yet the group’s image was marred by the departure of original group members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberts (and later Farrah Franklin). While this is the kind of thing that could have been the destruction of a group Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland, along with Michelle Williams pushed to greater heights of success. Releasing two more studio albums along with a Holiday and Remix album, they quickly became the Best Selling Female group in the United States, selling over 17 million albums in the states alone. While all three remaining members are still on the musical scene finding personal success, many still see one of their greatest accomplishments will be when they reunite. If you don’t believe it, just remember the frenzy that occurred when Beyoncé invited Kelly and Michelle on stage during her Super Bowl performance.
Tell us some 90’s R&B groups that you miss!