In September of ’97, Janet Jackson released “Got ’til It’s Gone,” the lead single from her sixth studio album, The Velvet Rope. The song features Q-Tip and Joni Mitchell — the former provides a verse and one of the greatest ad libs ever (“Joni Mitchell never lies!”), while the latter provides the chorus (in the form of a loop from her signature song, “Big Yellow Taxi”).

It’s easy to think that “Got ’til It’s Gone” only borrows from “Big Yellow Taxi” because Joni is featured and shouted out on the track, but it isn’t. In fact, it is arguably the secondary sample.

British singer Des’ree has a song called “Feel So High,” and its verses are almost a note-for-note match to “Got ’til It’s Gone.” As you can imagine, Des’ree sued and won, receiving 25% of the song’s royalties.

“Got ’til It’s Gone” never charted in the States because it was ineligible under Billboard’s rules at the time, but it cracked the top in the UK and across Europe. The song is definitely as far away from “pop” as Janet has ever gone, and as you can imagine, the critics loved it. A guest appearance by critic darling Joni Mitchell didn’t hurt either.

When “Got ’til It’s Gone” first dropped, I was probably too young to appreciate it, and in many ways, my taste in music tends to be diametrically opposed to your average critic of the ’90s. Not to mention, I was accustomed to a Janet who mainly gave us up-tempo goodness, so this was quite the aberration.

Twenty-two years later,  however, I am proud to say that I fully understand the greatness of this song.

From his beginnings as an intern at Uptown Records 30 years ago to an almost-billionaire today, the life and career of Sean “Diddy” Combs has been a study in building an empire from scratch.

Many may challenge his rap bona fides, but few will question his cultural impact. From signing some of the greatest rappers of all time to charting new territory for hip-hop fashion, Diddy has earned his spot as a legend and one of the standard-bearers of hip-hop culture. And let’s not forget that he also discovered a few iconic R&B singers – Mary J. and Faith, to name a few – and produced some of the greatest remixes of all time.

Diddy’s impact on popular music — and pop culture at-large — is indelible. Haters may bring up the fact that he doesn’t write his raps, but to quote Mr. Combs himself: Don’t worry if he writes rhymes, he writes checks.

Check out my five favorite Diddy joints below.

“All About the Benjamins” (Remix) [featuring the Notorious B.I.G., Lil’ Kim and the LOX)


“Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” (featuring Mase)


“I Need a Girl (Part One)” (featuring Usher & Loon)


“I Need a Girl (Part Two)” (featuring Ginuwine, Loon, Mario Winans and Tammy Ruggeri)


“I’ll Be Missing You” (with Faith Evans, featuring 112)

Once upon a time, long before the social media antics, Tyrese was part of the late ’90s cohort of R&B heartthrobs. He wasn’t as big of a star as Usher or even Ginuwine, but he was an arguably better singer.

Tyrese’s signature hit, “Sweet Lady,” was the second single from his self-titled debut album. Recorded when he was only 19 years old, the song was penned by Charles Farrar, Troy Taylor and songwriting god Johntá Austin. The video, which features a young Maia Campbell, checks just about every single ’90s cliche. You can’t help but love it. Check it out below.

Have you ever rocked a fire outfit to a party that ended up being under-attended and a waste of the outfit? And then wore that same outfit to a better party where more people got to see it? That’s basically what Lizzo is doing right now.

While currently dominating the charts with a two-year-old song, she just remixed a three-year-old song – with an assist from Ariana Grande, no less.

“Good as Hell” is my and most people’s introduction to Lizzo, and a favorite among the ad agencies. After being featured in every other commercial and movie since its 2016 release, the song is now climbing the charts as the public becomes hip to the magic of Melissa Vivianne Jefferson. The song just cracked the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the biggest airplay gainer this week, so the timing for a remix couldn’t be better.

Production-wise, the remix stays true to the original, and the lyrics are generally the same except for a new half-verse from Ari, whose vocals complement Lizzo’s.

Expect this track to top the Billboard Hot 100 in the next week or two. Click play.

When it comes to vocal talent, Monica is someone who simply doesn’t get recognition as the beast she truly is. Some of that lack of recognition can be blamed on the era in which she debuted – Mariah, Whitney, Toni and Mary were all at the height of their powers. Not to mention, she had contemporaries like Brandy and Aaliyah who debuted around the same time (and are nothing to scoff at either). But looking back, especially when you compare it to what we have today, Monica was truly something special.

Monica’s vocal performance on her debut album, Miss Thang, would be impressive for any artist at any age, but when you consider that she was barely a teenager when that album was recorded, it really puts her talent into perspective. It was hard to pick just one track, but for the sake of showcasing her power and range, we’re gonna go with “Why I Love You So Much,” the album’s third single.

Recorded when she was only 13 years old, “Why I Love You So Much” was written and produced by Daryl Simmons, and became Monica’s third top 10 hit in 1996. Today, on her 39th birthday, let’s put some respect on Monica’s name.

Davido and Popcaan got together to create a lil chune that is equal parts Afropop and dancehall. “Risky” is a sparsely produced track about some girl whose body is – you guessed it – risky. The video shows the thickest girl ever playing Davido and Popcaan, having them beefing n shit. Toward the end of the video, we get to find out that the okie doke is even deeper previously thought.

Sidebar: The video starts with a confrontation where Davido and Popcaan speak Nigerian pidgin and Jamaican patois, respectively, and it is the best thing ever.

“Risky” breaks Davido’s two-year stretch of non-album singles, serving as the lead single from his upcoming album, A Good Time, his second LP (and third project overall). The album drops on November 22, a day after his birthday.

I really like Tinashe. A lot. But unfortunately, she doesn’t have the greatest musical instincts and she simply hasn’t been lucky when it comes to achieving commercial success – it’s important to point out the luck factor because there are untalented artists releasing terrible music and still somehow dominating the charts. In addition to all of that, her former record label, RCA, failed her on multiple fronts, which is probably why the two parted ways back in February.

Tinashe has been independent since the split with RCA (despite reportedly being courted by multiple major labels) and is expected to release her first indie project, Songs For You, in the coming weeks. The album’s first single, “Die a Little Bit” (featuring Ms. Banks), dropped a few hours ago, and unfortunately, it’s yet another mismatch of sound, talent and image.

The woman who made “Pretend” can do so much more. Click play.

The Fugees were one of the most ingenious ensembles in the history of popular music, and the fact that we got only two albums out of them is a crying shame. We could argue that their brief discography helped preserve the group’s legacy, but evidence suggests that all three members of the group still had juice in the half-decade after their second and final album, The Score, which indicates that a third album would have been [fire emoji] (if we got it before the new millennium). Pras gave us “Ghetto Superstar” and Lauryn gave us The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Wyclef Jean, on the other hand, gave us magic for almost a decade-and-a-half after The Score.

Wyclef is a genius that — for whatever reason — doesn’t get recognized as such. He was never able to match the commercial success or critical acclaim he enjoyed with the Fugees, but there are a handful of classics in his solo discography.

On his 50th birthday, let’s put some respect on King Clef’s name and recognize him for being a true virtuoso. The best artists are the ones that possess range in tempo and style, and that is something Wyclef has demonstrated throughout his career.

Below are my five favorite Wyclef songs.


“Gone Till November” (featuring Refugee All Stars)


“911” (featuring with Mary J. Blige)


“2 Wrongs” (featuring Claudette Ortiz)


“Perfect Gentleman”


“Sweetest Girl” (featuring Akon, Lil Wayne and Niia)

Katy Perry just dropped “Harleys in Hawaii,” a pop-yet-R&B mid-tempo inspired by a real-life experience with her fiancé, Orlando Bloom.

The video is everything you might have imagined, but with a title like “Harleys in Hawaii,” did she really have a choice? The song slaps on the first listen, but it’s kind of hard to predict how this one will do on the charts because it’s quite different from anything Katy Perry has ever released. Also, Katy Perry seems to have run out of juice quite rapidly, which could either be blamed on a sexist music audience that discards female pop stars as soon as they cross age 30, or a series of odd career moves on Katy Perry’s part. There’s the American Idol gig and that weird Big Brother-type live stream she did a few years ago.

Anyway, the song’s nice and Katy looks good in the video. Click play.

Mya is one of those artists that deserved to have a longerrun of commercial success. Even though a five-year run in the fickle-ass musicindustry is nothing to laugh at, Mya is definitely talented enough (and hasreleased songs that are good enough) to have stretched that run at leastanother five years. She hasn’t cracked the Billboard Hot 100 since 2003, butshe has released a lot of good music – and “radio-friendly” music — in theyears since. Situations like hers remind you that luck is the key ingredient toevery success.

The Washington, DC, native has been independent since 2008,and while it’s not impossible to make waves while independent, one could arguethat it is not the best vehicle for a veteran female singer who makescontemporary R&B. The industry tends to like its indie in the form of rockor rap – and preferably male. But I digress.

Today, Mya turns 40, so in celebration of this milestonebirthday and her contributions to popular music, this week’s TBT post is all Mya everything. Below are my four favorite Mya tracks.

“Best of Me, Part 2” (featuring Jay-Z)


“It’s All About Me” (featuring Sisqo)


“Paradise”


“Take Me There” (with Blackstreet featuring Mase & Blinky Blink)