Friday, April 21, 2023

"No More Lies" by Michel'le

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  4107
Date:  11/18/1989
Debut:  92
Peak:  7
Weeks:  29
Genre:  R&B, New Jack Swing

Pop Bits:  L.A.-born singer Michel'le Toussant caught people off guard with her two distinct voices. While she spoke in a high-pitched, thin, mousy tone, her singing voice was full bodied and powerful and both got folk's attention. As a teen, Michel'le spent time around L.A. doing vocal competitions, which eventually led to an audition with DJ Alonzo Williams. In addition to owning a club, Williams was also busy with his group the World Class Wreckin' Cru, which featured soon-to-be stars DJ Yella and Dr. Dre. Around that time, the Cru was working up a track that needed a female vocalist and Michel'le was brought in to give it a go. The resulting song, the '87's slow jam "Turn Off the Lights," would be released as a single and get to #84 Pop/#30 R&B. Along the way, Michel'le and Cru member Dr. Dre would dive into a relationship. Dre's other group, N.W.A., was signed to Ruthless Records and it wasn't long before Michel'le had her own deal with the label. She and Dre would co-write the majority of songs (with Dre serving as producer) on her self-titled debut album including this first single. Released in the fall of '89, it would become a hit at R&B reaching #2. The song would crossover to Pop where it would take a slow climb before finally landing in the Top 10. The single would sell well enough to go gold. A second single, "Nicety," would get to #5 R&B/#29 Pop while "Something in My Heart" would make it to #2 R&B/#31 Pop. The hits helped send the album to #5 R&B/#35 Pop and it would turn gold. It was a terrific start to her career and should have led to further success, but then it would take nearly ten years before she could record a follow up.

ReduxReview:  I had forgotten about this great jam. It was defiant and tough with hot production. Michel'le then took it to the next level with her powerful vocal. While it did well and made it to #7, it really should have easily made the Top 3. Michel'le definitely had the goods to be a bigger star and it was too bad that she didn't get to do an immediate follow up. By the time she got one out, it was too late. Despite that, we are still left with her debut album and this terrific hit. It also seems she doesn't get enough credit for helping to forge a new path in music. There are some folks that consider Michel'le's debut as the first hip hop soul album; or at least the influence for the genre. The general view is that Sean "Puffy" Combs first coined the term hip hop soul when promoting Mary J. Blige's 1992 debut What's the 411?, an album on which he served as executive producer. She was then dubbed the Queen of Hip Hop Soul. However, some argue that Michel'le working with Dr. Dre set the genre in motion.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  After the success of her debut album, Michel'le should have recorded a follow up soon after. However, that didn't happen. Her volatile relationship with Dr. Dre, which has been accounted in various ways, was a factor along with having a baby. While she would make guest appearances on a few tracks for other artists, she was unable to record songs of her own. The turmoil led to substance abuse, which she would later address. Her relationship with Dre would come to an end after she found out he got married to another woman, but then she began to see another notorious rap impresario, Suge Knight. He would eventually help Michel'le get her second album out. Hung Jury would be released in 1998, but the lengthy time away didn't help things and with only two minor charting singles, the LP would only get to #56 R&B. Michel'le would end up marrying Knight (while he was in prison) and they would have a daughter. They would later divorce, but it was during those proceedings that Michel'le found out that their marriage was actually invalid because Knight had never gotten divorced from his previous wife. Since then, Michel'le has recorded a few singles and even branched out to reality TV. Starting in 2013, she appeared in three seasons of the TV One show R&B Divas: Los Angeles. Then in 2016 she was the subject of a Lifetime TV biopic titled Surviving Compton: Dre, Suge & Michel'le.


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