Today in 1994, TLC released CrazySexyCool, the group’s sophomore LP and an album that is remarkably representative of what was hot in the mid-‘90s. First of all, five of the album’s 16 tracks are interludes, which is the most mid-‘90s shit ever. Furthermore, some of these interludes are definitely better than some of the actual songs on the album. And one of them runs almost three minutes long. What a time.

And if the interludes were not enough of a timestamp, the songwriter and producer credits will definitely do it. The album’s credits include Dallas Austin, Babyface, Jermaine Dupri and Diddy, and based on those four names alone, you already know the vibes. Nothing but mid-tempo magic. From “Creep” to “Waterfalls” to even album cuts like “Kick Your Game,” it all slaps.

CrazySexyCool was a decidedly more mature album than Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip, which was released before neither Chilli nor Left Eye were old enough to drink legally. The subject matter isn’t vastly different, but something about the vocal performances feel more mature – cooler and sexier, if you will. Also, the notoriety they had earned courtesy of Left Eye’s arson charges gave their image a smidge of crazy that worked in the group’s favor.

CrazySexyCool would go on to sell over 23 million copies worldwide, becoming the group’s biggest album by far. All four of the album’s singles reached the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, with two topping the chart. The album won Grammys, VMAs, AMAs, and every other award there is to be won.

It’s hard to pick a favorite from an album with so many classics, but in this moment, “Creep” might be the winner. If you ask me the same question in 30 minutes, I’d probably say “Kick Your Game.” Or “Red Light Special.”

You get the point. The album is amazing. Happy 25th birthday to CrazySexyCool!

The year was 1999 and the golden era of movie soundtracks was, unbeknownst to us at the time, coming to an end. The Best Man, which turned 20 years old just a few weeks ago, released a soundtrack that included one of Beyoncé’s earliest showings as a solo artist as well as tracks from Maxwell, Lauryn Hill and Faith Evans. And with all the greatness on that soundtrack, there is one track that stands head and shoulders above the rest: “The Best Man I Can Be” by Ginuwine, RL, Tyrese and Case.

With four sangin’-ass sangas on the track, you already know the vocals were crazy, but that’s not what makes this song so special. What makes “Best Man I Can Be” special is its subject matter: friendship. The subject of friendship, particularly friendship between men, is generally uncommon in popular music. We could hypothesize why that is, but whatever the case, this collaboration between four of the brightest stars in R&B is everything you should expect from such an effort. Vocals upon vocals upon vocals, with no one really outshining the rest because everybody can hold their own.

Written and produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (along with the late great Big Jim Wright), “Best Man I Can Be” is unabashed in its ’90s R&B-ness. And in an age where too many R&B artists are trying so hard to be “alternative” and “experimental,” this throwback will remind you of exactly what R&B is missing.

PS: The outfits in this video — in particular, Case’s red leather ensemble and Ginuwine’s orange turtleneck — need to be in one of the Smithsonian museums.

The Game just dropped the video for “Stainless,” the second single from his upcoming album, Born 2 Rap. The track samples 2Pac’s “Picture Me Rollin'” (featuring Danny Boy, Syke and CPO) and mentions the killing of Orlando “Baby Lane” Jordon, the man widely believed to have killed Pac. The Game also raps about being loyal to Dr. Dre despite no longer being signed to Aftermath Entertainment.

Though he is only “featured” on the track, Anderson.Paak gets way more track time, which is just typical. Many of your favorite rap songs have more singing on them than rapping, but I digress.

Much like the song, the “Stainless” video does a lot of retrospection, including a recreation of the artwork of the Game’s first two albums, The Documentary and Doctor’s Advocate. Check it out below.

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.