Three groups. Nine women. Each broke their own ground and placed their permanent stamp on the music industry.Ironicially, something as simple as their stage names were intertwined at some point in their careers. First there was the most successful all female rap group, Salt N Pepa. We know them as Salt N Pepa today, but what you may not know is their original name was Super Nature. A few years later, another girl group composed of 2 singers and a rapper was formed….three women called 2nd Nature. We know them today as TLC. And then, there’s SWV…one of the premier R & B female groups of the 90s whose members consist of Taj, LeeLee and Coko….yep TLC. But T-Boz, Left Eye an Chilli beat them to the punch on the name and they became known as Sisters With Voices. After 15 years since their last hits (“Rain” and “Can We”), they’re back on the music scene, hoping to once again rule the charts. But has too much time passed for this to be possible? Or is the music just not up to par?
90s R & B. One of the greatest times in music. SWV had a string of hits that left us wanting more. Who could forget “Weak”, “Anything” and “Downtown”? After a solo project, reality TV, and mortuary school, Taj, LeeLee and Coko have regrouped to give us their new project, I Missed Us. They start off on a promising note with the first single “Co-Sign”. I wouldn’t say the song fits comfortably next to some of their biggest hits, but it was a good choice for the first single. The first few tracks on I Missed Us are uptempo, and a bit dated. The group seems to be stuck in their heyday, but with less spark that we heard on songs like, “Right Here”. “Do Ya” is a nice club track that samples the Rufus hit “Do You Love Me”. However, the songwriting lacks here, as it does on many of the tracks. Lines like “I’m a 10, so go run to your 3” seem a bit juvenile for a group that has such seasoned tenure. I’m just saying…
SWV slows things down after the uptempo tracks with “The Best Years”, a song where they tell a man that they gave him the best years of his life. As cocky as it sounds, they could have really worked this concept, but unfortunately it’s a lackluster track. “I Missed Us”, the title track, is a decent slow groove that I could see going over well with an older contemporary R & B audience. Interestingly, the group takes turns leading verses on several tracks, although Coko still takes most of the leads. Two of the CD’s standout tracks, “Love Unconditionally” and “If Only You Knew” (a remake) are not until the very end of the CD. Unfortunately, many listeners may not last until this point.
To declare, directly or indirectly, that you are missed by fans after a lengthy hiatus is a bold statement. I Missed Us has some potential, but SWV’s earlier works still reign supreme. The tracks are almost solely produced and written by Cainon Lamb could be partly to blame for the lack of variety on the project. They would have done better with a more diverse set of producers, and maybe a couple big names sprinkled here and there (I could see Timbaland and Rodney Jerkins working with them). So is SWV missed? Yes, but I think the fans were expecting….eh, dare I say, more quality music. Time will tell how the CD fares on the charts, but in a fickle music business, they may need to quickly regroup and try again. I Missed Us gives enough for us to remember SWV, but the dated sound and generic lyrics are what makes it fall short….or “Weak”….and not weak in the knees.