I can’t decide what angers me more: that this song is written and produced by Dre and Vidal, who are capable of way better (like this, for instance), or that so much of this song is devoted to perennial rap cameo artist Fabolous and the completely devoid of talent Rick Ross.
It’s not clear to me what it is that RichGirl offers to the marketplace as a vocal group. Or rather, nothing that they have released so far requires four singers singing in harmony, or even bothers to take advantage of the fact that RichGirl is actually made up of four singers who, presumably, can sing in harmony.
It isn’t that they should do this*:
But there doesn’t seem to be even the pretense that we’re getting music that uses multiple voices in harmony to convey some emotion or idea that can’t be conveyed in the same way with one voice (or even one voice with background singers). I think the artist, producer, or label that figures out how to do that in this historical moment when there’s an entire generation that venerates artists whose whole appeal is the absence of any musical ability whatsoever will be wildly wildly successful.
So I guess it is the former that bothers me more. I get that the marketplace is producer-driven, dance-floor focused, and completely uninterested in vocal ability. But then – why a girl group? RichGirl exists solely to sell the idea of a girl group, without actually being a girl group.
*Another post for another day: how Tiny was the best vocalist in Xscape, got the best leads on all the songs, and also how Tamika Scott’s greatness was unjustifiably overshadowed by her sister Latocha. Both of which are on display on this, their single best work.
Xscape’s relative obscurity is one of the biggest crimes in black music. They remain the only group that sings as well (both individually and as a group), perhaps even better, then En Vogue. And yet history has not given them the respect and admiration for what is a stellar, still listenable, body of work.
That said, Xscape actually made smart single choices, but the one mistake they made was not to release this song, All I Need, written by group member Tamika Scott, from their third and final album, Traces of my Lipstick.
Here Tamika and Tiny sing lead, with Tiny doing the sultry begging thing that only she can do while Tamika is a lil tougher in her phrasing. What I like about this song is that the changes are very subtle. These changes give the song an emotional fluidity that you feel intuitively, which few songs employ. The hook then becomes the least important part of the song as your attention is drawn to the subtle emotional shifts that happen between Tamika’s second verse and the hook, and the hook and the bridge.