Another week, another deep album cut. For the culture. And for the quarantine too.

In 1997, Mary J. Blige released her third LP and best work by far: Share My World.

It is PEAK contemporary R&B that is so ’97 and yet so timeless. Mary was at the height of her powers, and so were the producers on the albums, including Babyface and a then-20-year-old Rodney “Dakrchild” Jenkins.

Darkchild would become a household name by the following year, when he produced much of Brandy’s sophomore album and an array of hits for many big stars. But in 1997, he was still relatively unknown even though he had a few minor hits under hit belt — including “The Things You Do.”

When many think of Share My World, “I Can Love You” (featuring Lil’ Kim) — another Darkchild production — is usually one of the first two tracks mentioned. And while I do love that song, I think the album’s title track is just as good, and picking “I Can Love You” would’ve been too easy. However, watch this space, because “I Can Love You” will get its day.

Like the album as a whole, “Share My World” is particularly representative of that time in R&B and yet possesses a certain timelessness that makes it just as enjoyable almost 23 years later — and not just in a nostalgic kinda way.

Co-written by Mary and Darkchild, “Share My World” is a reminder that MJB has a decent pen game to go with that amazing voice. And as we all stay in our respective cocoons during the COVID-19 pandemic, it feels like a comically appropriate pick — because sharing our worlds is literally not allowed right now. Click play.

One of the specialties of R&B acts of the late ’80s and early ’90s was an ability to make the most trifling songs sound romantic.

One of such songs is “Piece of My Love” by Guy, a mid-tempo that is sung so beautifully that you might be tempted to pick it as the song to be played during the first dance at your wedding. In actuality, it is sung from the perspective of a cheating man offering a piece of his love to a potential side chick.

Aaron Hall sings his ASS off, so the toxicity of the song’s message goes almost undetected. And if the vocals aren’t enough to distract, the beat will definitely do it.

Like many of the greatest R&B songs ever, “Piece of My Love” is an album cut. However, it is well-known among true R&B fans and was even the subject of an urban legend that accuses Aaron Hall of saying “dumb bitch” at the beginning of the song.

Spoiler Alert: He says nothing of the sort.

“Piece of My Love” was sampled in Mariah Carey’s “Crybaby,” which speaks to Mariah’s taste, but more importantly, to the impact of this song that was never intended to be a hit.

If this is your introduction to this song, thank me later.

Lil Yachty, Drake and DaBaby got together to make “Oprah’s Bank Account,” a hilarious song with an even funnier nine-minute video to go with it.

In the clip, Yachty plays “Boprah,” a daytime talk show host who also has her own magazine. “Boprah” interviews Drake and DaBaby, who both poke fun at themselves – Drake about his light-skinned-ed ways, DaBaby about using the same beat on every damn song.

“Oprah’s Bank Account” is the first single from his upcoming album, Lil Boat 3. Check it out below.

Today in 2000, Toni Braxton released “He Wasn’t Man Enough,” the lead single from her third album, The Heat.

Produced by Darkchild and recorded just weeks before its release, the song was a bit of a departure from what we were used to hearing from Ms. Braxton. But somehow, it worked.

Darkchild was the producer du jour and had the Midas touch, and Toni proved that her voice could ride any beat.

“He Wasn’t Man Enough” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and would later win a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance — one of the categories that no longer exist because the Recording Academy didn’t like that Beyoncé was winning so many awards. But I digress.

Even though she was yet to experience any career failures, “He Wasn’t Man Enough” marked a bit of a comeback for Toni Braxton. Just two years prior, fresh off the heels of her blockbuster sophomore album, Secrets, Toni filed for bankruptcy. This happened partly because she was blowing cash on Gucci flatware — I kid — but mainly because the ’90s were wild and major artists would somehow end up broke even after their greatest successes. Just ask TLC (who were signed to the same label and filed for bankruptcy just a few years prior and months after the release of their biggest album).

The video for “He Wasn’t Man Enough” features Robin Givens, who plays the wife of Toni’s ex-boyfriend (played by Toni’s real-life husband at the time, Keri Lewis). It starts with Robin flaunting her man and ends with her realizing that he isn’t man enough for her either. Click play.

Up-and-comer Stunna 4 Vegas just dropped a visual for “DO DAT,” which features both Babies. How he do dat?

The song has a beat that sounds like something of DaBaby’s album — in other words, it sounds like a Jetsonmade beat. However, the track was produced by Bankroll Got It, a production team made up of three brothers. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that these new age producers aren’t creative with their stage names.

The “DO DAT” video shows a detective spying on Stunna, DaBaby and Lil Baby, wondering how Stunna got so rich so quick. Comedy ensues.

Click play.

This week in 1995, TLC released what might be the quintessential baby-making song: “Red Light Special.”

Written and produced by da gawd Babyface, “Red Light Special” was the second single from the group’s blockbuster album, CrazySexyCool. The song is all sex. From beginning to end. And somehow, it succeeds in being immensely sexual without being too explicit.

The video for “Red Light Special” fully and completely matches the energy of the song. Super sexy and yet not too raunchy to be played on daytime television.

The video shows all three members of the group playing poker in a room full of mostly of half-naked men, including a young Boris Kodjoe. As it turns out, the video is set in a brothel and the men are prostitutes. And Left Eye is their pimp.

If I said I was able to glean all of that information on my own, I’d be lying. Shout-out to Wikipedia.

In addition to celebrating this song’s 25th anniversary, we’re also going up for Chilli, who turns 49 today. Click play.

SZA and Justin Timberlake linked up for the lead single from the Trolls World Tour soundrack, “The Other Side.” The movie, which also stars JT, is a sequel to 2016’s Trolls, which also had a soundtrack led by a Timberlake single, “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” (his last No. 1 hit).

Much like “Can’t Stop,” “The Other Side” is a melodic up-tempo with disco influences — this time, we even have disco balls in the video. The song, is as “radio-friendly” as they come, and mind you, this is not a bad thing. Watch the video below.

On February 22, 2000, Aaliyah released what would become a history-making hit: “Try Again.”

Written by Timbaland and Static Major, the track served as the lead single from the Romeo Must Die soundtrack. The song opens with Timbo rapping a line from Eric B. & Rakim’s “I Know You Got Soul,” and before you know it, we’re hit with one of the hardest beats ever.

Interestingly, “Try Again” was initially written as an inspirational song, but the music gods heard the beat and sent a message through Aaliyah’s uncle, Barry Hankerson, who suggested a modification of the lyrics.

The “Try Again” video was something of a reintroduction to Aaliyah. She had shed much of the tomboy image for which she had been known, and was decidedly sexier and more confident.

“Try Again” has the distinction of being the first song in history to top the Billboard Hot 100 off the sole strength of radio airplay. In summary, “Try Again” dominated the airwaves.

Exactly 20 years ago today, the world was introduced to a white girl with pink hair and a black voice. Alecia Moore, better known as Pink, released her debut single, “There You Go.”

Written by Kandi Burruss, Kevin Briggs and Pink, “There You Go” definitely follows the tradition of sassy kiss-off anthems that Kandi was known for at the time. And production-wise, it is definitely very similar to “Bills, Bills, Bills” and “No Scrubs” — somehow, my pre-teen self didn’t catch these similarities, but 20 years later, they are glaring.

At the time, we all thought we had years of dope R&B to come from Pink, but little did we know, she would switch up on us by the time her second LP dropped the following year.

Pink made a clean break from R&B and never looked back. The music has been good for the most part, but we’ll always wonder what could have been. Also, we will always be left with the feeling that Pink used black culture — in sound, look and feel — as a prop to get noticed quickly. It’s one thing to merely sing R&B, but Alecia hit us with the blaccent and everything. She was Miley before Miley was Miley, and unfortunately, there will be many more like her.

Watch the “There You Go” video below.