Drop your glasses, shake your asses.
When former Fugee Lauryn Hill’s epic 1998 solo début ‘The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill‘ raked in 5 Grammys (out of a record 10 nominations in a single night) at the 41st annual Grammy Awards, a new standard of hip hop, especially for the erstwhile femcee, was set. A benchmark for a solo female vocalist, and an unprecedented first for a female rapper – Hill blazed a trail and set the bar higher for every rapper in the game.
With Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown, undoubtedly two of the greatest genre-benders of the 90’s, focusing more on unleashing filth-rap ( ‘Don’tcha like the way I roll and play with my bushy‘ – the epitome of class), the void left by Hill wasn’t easy to fill.
The only exceptions? Hip hop mogul Missy Elliott, and our Throwback Tuesday artist of the week – Ruff Ryders’ first lady, rapper, actress, songwriter, producer and overall awesomeness – Eve.
When Eve’s 1999 début ‘Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryders’ First Lady‘ debuted at # 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart (the third album by a female rapper to do so after Hill’s ‘Miseducation‘ and Foxy Brown’s ‘Chynadoll‘) – it seemed like a worthy contender had taken over from where Hill left off.
Self-respect was an issue that Hill notoriously guarded through her music, and Eve’s début, with its fair share of flaws, chose to tread the same path as blazed by Hill. Gritty beats blended in seamlessly with enough street credibility and class, with empowering anthems and barely a hint of sleaze – the album was nothing short of impressive. Cuts like ‘What Y’all Want‘, ‘Gotta Man‘ and the potent ‘Love Is Blind‘ featuring r’n’b royalty Faith Evans had their fair share of chart glory and hit the top 40 of the Hot 100.
Still, the double platinum certified ‘Let There Be Eve‘ was a far cry from the knockout that was ‘The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill‘. Eve’s sophomore album, 2001’s ‘Scorpion‘, however, was a different story altogether.
Smooth grooves, insanely addictive hooks, cutting-edge slick beats, rhymes that radiated an astonishing sense of power – the album encompassed everything from r’n’b, rap, pop and hip hop with a posse of cameos (Teena Marie, DMX, LOX, Da Brat). Buoyed by an ensemble of some of the most prolific producers of the decade including Dr Dre and Swizz Beatz, ‘Scorpion‘ was a triumphant declaration of her stance in a majorly testosterone-fueled industry – worthy of standing its ground along with the likes of ‘Miseducation‘.
While ‘Who’s That Girl?‘, the Teflon-produced lead single from the project, announced Eve’s arrival as a vocal force to be reckoned with, it was the album’s second single ‘Let Me Blow Ya Mind‘ featuring the fashionably flawless No Doubt front-woman Gwen Stefani that established Eve as a global superstar.
Produced by Dr Dre and Scott Storch, ‘Let Me Blow Ya Mind‘ easily proved to be a crossover record, receiving major airplay on r’n’b, rap as well as pop radio – Gwen’s presence ensured a smooth transition to pop – and was one of the defining songs of the summer of 2001 (easily one of my fave years in music) globally along with Janet Jackson’s ‘All For You‘ and Destiny’s Child’s ‘Bootylicious‘.
I spent a considerable part of that summer trying to memorize Eve’s spitfire verses on the song, while it was relatively easier to pick up Gwen’s thoroughly free of flaw vocals which blended in amazingly well on the addictive chorus. And what a video peeps, remember Gwen’s abs? THOSE ABS.
This is precisely what I loved about 2001 y’all – certain songs released that year literally represented sounds that would eventually become the blueprint of the musical landscape of the following decade – whether it was rap/sung collaborations or hip-pop (popularized by the likes of Destiny’s Child) or dance music. Truly a landmark year in music.
‘Let Me Blow Ya Mind‘ peaked at # 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart, # 1 on the European Hot 100 Singles Chart and at # 4 on the UK Top 40 – a rare instance of a song by a female rapper reaching such dizzying heights of global success. The song eventually went on to win a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung collaboration as well as the coveted Best Female Video award at the 2001 MTV VMA’s – beating Janet Jackson’s ‘All For You‘ – something that I was not too happy about back in the day. But then again, Janet won a Grammy later for the ‘All For You‘, so all was well in my world.
This takes me back to some great times in my life – and with the party season just around the corner, you might just wanna slip this one on your playlist, shake your asses and relive those unbridled glory days of youth!
Check out the phenomenal ‘Let Me Blow Ya Mind‘ right here :