Minneapolis based band The Time (L-R, Jimmy Jam, Jesse Johnson, Jerome Benton, Morris Day, Terry Lewis, Monte Moir and Jellybean Johnson) deserve to have their story told on TV One’s “Unsung” (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes).
Artists Who Deserve ‘Unsung’ Treatment
TV One did the darn thing when it created the docu-series “Unsung.”
“Unsung” is a documentary series, which profiles R&B, hip-hop and gospel artists who were very talented but never quite blew up on the pop charts.
After many seasons, TV One might be running out of urban artists to profile.
Therefore, RegalMag.com offers its help in choosing the next batch of unsung artists.
Maze featuring Frankie Beverly—Maze featuring Frankie Beverly has to arguably be Black America’s favorite band of all time. Beginning their careers as Marvin Gaye’s opening act, Maze became a staple on the R&B charts with such classics as “Before I Let Go,” “We are One” and “Joy and Pain.” They are one of the only groups that can continue to sell out concerts with no new music in 23 years.
Jermaine Jackson—Playing second fiddle to the world’s greatest entertainer, Michael Jackson, had to be a daunting task. But Jermaine Jackson made a great career for himself, first as a member of the Jackson 5, then as a solo artist, and then finally rejoining The Jacksons in 1984. He had number one solo hits with “Let’s Get Serious,” “Don’t Take it Personal” and “Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming (Too Good to be True),” a duet with Michael. The story of how he married his baby brother’s (Randy Jackson) baby mama would add intrigue to the story.
The Time—Prince did what Eminem did in the late 1990s and 2000s. He became an icon and then he reached back and brought his friends, Morris Day and The Time along for the ride. However, the ride was not always smooth because Prince used The Time as a front to put out more of his own music even though they were talented musicians in their own right. Day and Jesse Johnson went on to successful solo careers, while Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis became two of the most successful songwriters and producers in music history.
Eric B. and Rakim—Rakim is not called the god MC for nothing. He is still in most hip-hop head’s top 10 rappers of all time, and his rhymes are still timely three decades later. With Eric B.’s beats to back up his smooth voice, he mastered internal rhymes and managed to be hard without using much, if any, profanity. Word on the street is that Eric B. and Rakim are going back on tour, making it the perfect time to tell their story.
The D.O.C.—If it wasn’t for a near fatal car crash that destroyed his voice; The D.O.C. would have been one of the greatest rappers of all time. Riding high off of the success of Eazy-E and N.W.A, Ruthless Records launched a new star from Dallas in 1989. He was the first great Dr. Dre protégé. The Texas native gave hip-hop fans classics like “The Formula” and “It’s Funky Enough” and was a ghostwriter for all three Dr. Dre solo albums.
Cameo—Larry Blackmon’s outlandish stage persona in Cameo probably does not make people think of Julliard. Nevertheless, Julliard is where he got his musical training, along with the club scene of New York City. Although Cameo was accused of being derivative of other funk bands like Parliament/Funkadelic, Cameo outlasted all of their predecessors and even got into ballads with “Sparkle.” Their biggest hits came in the 1980s when “Word Up” and “Candy” gave them crossover appeal, influencing many in the young, burgeoning hip-hop scene.
The Brothers Johnson—Motown Records had the original Funk Brothers in their session musicians. But the true brothers of funk might have been The Brothers Johnson. With Quincy Jones in their corner, The Brothers Johnson began as players on Jones’ album “Mellow Madness.” That led to a deal with A&M Records and such hits as “Stomp!” and “Strawberry Letter 23.” However, the brothers are probably most known for “I’ll Be Good To You,” which topped the R&B charts in 1977, while also climbing to number three on the pop charts.
UGK—Southern hip-hop heads are almost guaranteed to have some UGK in their automobile. The duo (Pimp C and Bun B) from Port Arthur, Texas was basically ahead of their time. So much so that Jive Records did not know how to promote them. Nevertheless, they managed to earn gold records with very little radio play and most of the time with no videos. Unfortunately, when UGK finally topped the pop charts in the midst of the Houston hip-hop craze, their leader Pimp C died from mysterious causes in a Los Angeles hotel room.
Shai—The early 199os were like an R&B renaissance like the Motown era. One of the leading groups of the new age of R&B was a group from Howard University called Shai. Their first album on Gasoline Alley Records was filled with hits like “If I Ever Fall in Love,” “Comforter” and “Baby, I’m Yours.” But while other groups from that era like Boyz II Men and Jodeci continued their successful run, Shai basically disappeared from the charts.
M.C. Ren—“Straight Outta Compton” did not do this N.W.A member justice. An “Unsung” documentary would hopefully rectify that situation. As a teenager in the world’s most dangerous group, M.C. Ren, along with Ice Cube and The D.O.C. wrote the songs that made N.W.A famous. When Cube left, the writing almost solely fell on Ren for their last two releases. After the group’s breakup, he received a couple of gold and platinum records, while eventually reacquiring his master recordings, which is one of the ultimate goals of all artists.
Agree on Maze as well as the Whispers
Yes to all the above. I’d like to see a unsung Bobby Caldwell episode. His contributions to soul music is so unrecognized. He started out using silhouettes of himself on the first few albums because no one could get their heads above “What You Won’t Do For Love” being written and sung by a blonde haired, blue eyed guy who grew up in Miami. He’s a multi-instrumentalist producer and songwriter. Everyone knows that song but they don’t know about the person behind the song.
Commodores. Peabo Bryson. Dianne Reeves. Rachelle Farrell. Rahsaan Patterson. LTD. Average White Band. Larkin Arnold.