Ah, the 1990s. A great decade with great tunes. Here are two singles from the 90s that I picked up recently at one of my fave CD stores. :)
Part rap, part hip-hop, and all excellent, “No Diggity” (1996) by Blackstreet is one of those songs that as soon as you hear it, you’ll never forget it. With a strummed guitar backing and a pounding piano hook, and that “hey yo hey yo hey yo” interlude bit, this is a 90s classic. They don’t seem to make ’em like this anymore.
The remixes are good bits of 90s hip-hop, but none of them replicate the rather dark, grimy goodness of the original. The All-Star remix is lighter and sounds a bit too polished, the tinkling piano and subtle synths sounding too conventional. In contrast, the Will Mix has a very bass-heavy beat and background effects that, combined with a piano loop, make for a nice (if slightly monotonous) alternative version of “No Diggity.” The “Billie Jean” remix is sort of a mash-up of “No Diggity” and Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” (but performed by Blackstreet). The arrangement is cool, for example, the way the backing vocals of “No Diggity” are used as backing for “Billie Jean,” and the song works well. The last track on the single is the instrumental of “No Diggity” and it’s neat to listen to, but of course just isn’t the same without the vocals!
En Vogue were responsible for some fab R&B/Soul jams in the 90s, and “Don’t Let Go (Love)” (1996) is a perfect example. The version of the song I love is the Soundtrack Version, a beautifully harmonized and produced ballad. Driven by piano and bass but with flickers of guitar in the background, “Don’t Let Go (Love)” (Soundtrack Version) is a decadent 90s treat.
The single I got has a few remixes, plus the EP version of “Whatta Man” (a great collaboration with Salt-n-Pepa) and the Club Remix of “What Is Love.” The 2000 Watts Remix of “Don’t Let Go (Love)” isn’t that good – the vocals sound sped-up and it just sounds kinda cheesy compared to the lush Soundtrack Version. The Club Remix of “What Is Love” has fun 90s house production, and “Whatta Man” sounds just as good today as it did when it was first released. Lastly, the Fulton Yard Mix of “Don’t Let Go (Love)” is fortunately not sped-up and has some great bass and beats. The horn hits are a bit distracting but all in all, it’s cool.