I like the way you work it..
It’s 1996 all over again on today’s Throwback Tuesday – which means I’m about to suffer from a serious case of r’n’b-drenched nostalgia y’all.
About 18 years ago (I.AM.SO.OLD), American r’n’b super-group Blackstreet unveiled their sophomore album ‘Another Level‘ in 1996, following the Platinum success of their self titled début smash. With hip-hop emerging as the dominant sound of the late 90’s (infused by generous doses of neo-soul/r’n’b), Blackstreet couldn’t have possibly gone wrong with the sound they created for their new album.
With staggeringly smooth soul-drenched grooves dominating the entire album, ‘Another Level‘ delivered some mass levels of slayage on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart, debuting at # 3 and eventually selling over 4 million units in the US alone.
The reason behind the slayage?
The unprecedented success of the album’s insane first single ‘No Diggity‘, featuring Dr Dre and Queen Pen.
Quiet literally, if you’re a 90’s baybeh – you’ve grown up grooving to this number.
Founder member Teddy Riley, famously known for introducing New Jack Swing (later popularized and pioneered by Janet Jackson on her breakthrough extravaganza ‘Control‘ in 1986), crafted a definitive sound that would eventually represent 90’s hip-hop/r’n’b, and ‘No Diggity‘ was a shining example what that era in music had to offer.
And of course, a classic 90’s hip-hop song can be best represented visually by none other than director Hype Williams.
By 1996, a Hype Williams video was a legitimate way to reach the upper reaches of the Billboard Charts, as evidenced by the massive success of videos by Missy Elliott, Notorious BIG, Brandy, Montell Jordan, Mary J Blige, Adina Howard, Jodeci etc.
Ditto with ‘No Diggity‘, which eventually became the group’s first Billboard # 1 single, bumping off none other than Los Del Rio’s ‘Macarena‘ after a 14 week reign atop the Hot 100, and selling a cool 1.6 million singles alone.
A Grammy for Best R’n’B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals in 1998 was also in order for Blackstreet.
Check out the video right here, and revel in the soulful sound of the 90’s – an era that needs to make a definitive comeback to save music, if the current state of the charts are anything to go by. (Harlem Shake? Gangnam Style? I’m died).