BET Presents: 2017 Soul Train Awards - Red Carpet & Arrivals
Getty Images

10 Things To Know About R&B Group, 702, And Their Rise To Fame

Now that the trio is preparing to head out on tour, here’s what every millennial should know about the R&B girl group.

This has been the year of reunions for R&B groups. En Vogue released their new album Electric Cafe, Xscap3 dropped their EP Here For It, Destiny's Child surprised us all with a reunion during Beyoncé's Coachella set, and now 702 is back. Although the group is not often remembered as much as some of their '90s counterparts, the singing trio had a huge influence on the culture of R&B music. If you're unfamiliar with 702, they had '90s music lovers singing the anti side-chick anthem “Where My Girls At?” or in their feelings telling their spouses to “Get It Together.”

Some of your favorite R&B singers were influenced and inspired by their music. In a 2014 NPR interview, Solange Knowles reflected on the group’s influence by saying, “I know that there's no way to really explain the emotional and physical and mental reaction when you're at a party in seventh grade and a 702 record comes on.” Their music, often mid-tempo jams, struck the perfect balance between soulful pop and mature fun.

Now that the trio is preparing to head out on tour this year, here’s what every millennial should know about the R&B girl group.

 

1. 702’s Origin

While in high school at the Las Vegas Academy of Arts, Irish Grinstead, Kameelah Williams, and Lemisha Grinstead formed 702, one of the most successful R&B groups of the '90s. Originally, the group was a quartet before Orish Grinstead, Irish’s twin sister (who passed away in 2008), decided to leave the group. Despite her departure, her vocals can still be heard on the group’s debut album.

2. About Their Big Break

Irish, Orish, and Lemisha Grinstead were determined to have their talents noticed. Before their classmate Kameelah Williams joined, the sisters often performed in the lobby of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas before major events. One day, they auditioned for comedian Sinbad who encouraged them to go to Atlanta to participate in Jack The Rapper’s music convention for unsigned talent. Reflecting on the experience of the music convention, Lemisha told Billboard in 1997 that the members of 702 “were so young we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. But our parents really believed in us and let us go to all of these events.” The Jack the Rapper convention would become the group’s big break. Under the direction of Sinbad, they called themselves “Sweeter Than Sugar” and won second place in the music competition.

3. From Sweeter Than Sugar To 702

Although the ladies did not win the talent showcase in Atlanta, they caught the eye of Michael Bivins, who was a member of New Edition, Bell Biv Devoe, and the mastermind behind the career of Boyz II Men. After an impromptu audition for the music mogul, he signed them on the spot to Biv 10 Records. After hearing them sing, Bivins stated “he had found his Supremes.” In preparing them for commercial success, Bivins changed the group’s name from Sweeter Than Sugar to 702, which is Las Vegas’ area code. They also made their debut on Subway’s “This Lil’ Game We Play” in 1995, which was a Top 20 Billboard hit. The commercial success of the record helped launch their career.

4. The Big Leagues: Motown Records

702 first signed to Biv 10 Records and Motown through a joint venture deal. The group released three studio albums; No Doubt (1996), 702 (1998), and Star (2003) and experienced the type of commercial success that made them a household name in the '90s and early 2000s. The group had four singles reach the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100, with two singles, “Get It Together,” and “Where My Girls At?” peaking in the Top 10. Their debut album, No Doubt, was certified Gold by the RIAA in November 1997 while their self-titled album 702 was certified Platinum in November 2002. The group sold millions of records before they disbanded in the mid-2000s.

5. “Get It Together”

No Doubt hit the airwaves on October 8, 1996. The album debuted at No. 82 on the Billboard 200, No. 1 on the U.S. HeatSeekers chart, and No. 24 on the Billboard Top R&B Albums chart. The second single, “Get It Together,” became the album’s standout track. It dominated the charts throughout 1997, peaking at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 3 on the R&B charts, and No. 7 on the U.S. Rhythmic Top 40 chart. The single went on to sell 800,000 copies in 1997, prompting Billboard to name it one of the best selling records of that year. The RIAA certified the single Gold on April 1, 1997, less than three months after its release. The song, written by Donell Jones, not only provided 702 with a hit record, but it also helped launch Jones’ career as an up and coming R&B singer and songwriter.

6. Cousin Skeeter And The Longevity Of “Steelo”

While “Get It Together” dominated the airwaves, 702’s lead single “Steelo” was not only a hit record but also re-fashioned into a Nickelodeon theme song. The song was certified Gold on February 28, 1997, and reached No. 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 12 on the Top R&B charts. While fans may remember listening to the Missy Elliott penned track on the radio or by watching the video, 702 recorded an alternate version for Bill Bellamy’s Nickelodeon show Cousin Skeeter, which starred Meagan Good and Robert Ri'chard. If you’re a millennial, chances are you were singing along to 702 while watching that popular show. Throughout the 90s, 702 made guest appearances on TV favorites such as Moesha and Sister, Sister.

Their song, "He Rules,” also found placement on 1999's Stuart Little soundtrack.

7. "Where My Girls At?"

If 702 dropped “Where My Girls At?” today, I guarantee it would still be a hit. The song’s beat and chorus are so infectious that you have to rewind it multiple times to fully experience the joy the track exudes. The latter is why the song is 702’s most commercially successful song to date. Written by Missy Elliott, the track was originally intended for TLC’s Fan Mail album. After the group passed on the track, 702 recorded it and the rest became history. “Where My Girls At?” was one of 1999’s biggest selling singles with over 600,000 units sold. The track peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 3 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts, and No. 1 on the Billboard Rhythmic charts. For over four months, the song remained in the Billboard Top 20, making it one of the most played songs of 1999. The song was not just popular in the United States; it impacted the charts in Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Scotland, Sweden, and Switzerland. Due to the popularity of the song, 702 was asked to sing “Where My Girls At?” to begin the 1999 WNBA season. The song helped catapult the ensemble’s career and ranked as the 46th best song by a girl group of all time by Billboard.

8. The Star Era Crafted By Pharrell And The Neptunes

After the success of their self-titled sophomore album, the group took a hiatus before the release of their third studio album, Star in 2003. The album debuted at No. 45 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums roster and No. 22 on the Top R&B Albums chart. While Star did not perform as commercially well as the group’s previous discography, Pharrell Williams wrote several of the songs on the album and The Neptunes produced its two lead singles: the title track featuring The Clipse and “I Still Love You.” In a 2004 interview with The Washington Post, Pharrell listed 702’s “I Still Love You’’ as one of his top ten songs because “it takes him on an emotional ride.” This may be one of the reasons “I Still Love You” is often listed as one of 702’s best songs even though it didn’t reach the same heights as the other tracks in the group’s discography. The song was also featured on the soundtrack of the movie Empire that starred John Leguizamo, Treach from Naughty by Nature, and Fat Joe.

9. The Sample History Of “All I Want”

The third single off of 702’s first album was 1997’s “All I Want.” The song was the promotional single for Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell’s classic comedy film, Good Burger. The track sampled The Jackson 5’s “It’s Great To Be Here” song off of their 1971 album, Maybe Tomorrow. The song was a Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at No. 35 on the chart. Fun Fact: the song was later sampled by J. Lo in 2002 for her No. 1 Hot 100 hit “I’m Real” featuring Ja Rule and Ashanti. You can listen to the similarities here.

10. Life After 702 And The Reunion Tour

Kameelah Williams, the group's lead singer, remained more visible than the other members due to her solo career and television stint. She went on to work with artists such as Macy Gray and Raphael Saadiq. In 2014, she joined the cast of R&B Divas Atlanta and also became an advocate for autism awareness after her son Zac, with fellow singer Musiq Soulchild, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2013. Although we have not seen much of Irish and Lemisha Grinstead in the media, similar to many music groups, 702 disbanded so that they could all focus on other aspects of their lives and solo careers.

Now, if you never had the chance to get your entire life at a 702 show, you will finally have the opportunity to live out your '90s dreams. In November 2017, the group reunited for the first time to perform at the Soul Train Music Awards, which prompted whispers of a reunion similar to that of their peers Xscape (now Xscap3) and SWV. Although the last time 702 released new music was in the early 2000s, the group decided to reunite and go on tour in the upcoming year, giving fans the chance to relive their greatest hits or experience them new for the first time.

From the Web

More on Vibe

CIRCA 1980: Photo of Bill Withers
David Corio/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Bill Withers' Greatest Hits: Remixed, Sampled And Covered

The recent loss of legends in jazz, soul and classical music have saddened the music industry and reminded us of their touching gifts to music. The passing of Manu Dibango, Krzysztof Penderecki, Ellis Marsalis Jr., Bucky Pizzarelli and Alan Merrill brought endless tributes from peers and fans with the recent loss of soul singer-songwriter Bill Withers doing the same.

With a mirage of hits, the iconic songwriter left his mark on music with the release of his debut album Just As I Am in 1971. "Ain't No Sunshine" put a spotlight on his songwriting while 1977's "Lovely Day" reminded the industry of his signature vocals. Withers released eight studio albums, one live album and garnered three Grammys for his powerful songs that gave hope and love to fans to this day.

Hip-hop and R&B have gained the most from Withers as his music went on to inspire records like "No Diggity" by BLACKStreet, "Roses" by Kanye West and other songs from UGK, Dr. Dre, Jill Scott and more.

Take a look at some of Withers' finest tunes covered, remixed and sampled below.

__

8. “Lovely Day” | Menagerie (1977)

Sampled On: T.W.D.Y., “Player’s Holiday” | Derty Werk (1999) LunchMoneyLewis - “It's Gonna Be A Lovely Day” feat. Aminè | Pets 2 Soundtrack (2019) Swizz Beatz - “Take A Picture” |One Man Band (2007)

Standout: T.W.D.Y., “Player’s Holiday” | Derty Werk (1999)

Short for "The Whole Damn Yay," the group used Withers' sample while throwing a splash of The Bay's laid back flavor. With cameos from future legends like E-40 and Ray Luv, the single already embodied the best of R&B and hip-hop with guest verses from Too Short, Mac Mall and Otis & Shug. The mimosas and yacht are also a great touch.

Covered By: Jill Scott, The Original Jill Scott from the Vault Vol. 1 (2011) Alt-J, This Is All Yours (2014) Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio 2 (2013) Kirk Franklin, The Nu Nation Project (1998)

Standout: Kirk Franklin, The Nu Nation Project (1998)

Who was going to beat a chorus singing to the lordt? Franklin's take on the classic gives us stirring gospel and appreciation for Withers and God. There are plenty of covers that have lifted the same vocals as Withers, but the ones listed have put their unique spin on the track.

7. “Ain't No Sunshine” | Just As I Am (1971)

Sampled On: DMX - “No Sunshine” | Exit Wounds Soundtrack (2001) Lil B - “Up And Down” | Based Jam (2012) 2Pac- "Soulja's Story" |  2Pacalypse Now (1991)

Standout: DMX - “No Sunshine” | Exit Wounds Soundtrack (2001)

"No Sunshine" served as the only single from DMX's film alongside Steven Seagal, which gave everyone the perfect backdrop to the movie and X's intricate storytelling. Both the original and flipped version points out the dark elements of our lives. Withers penned the song after watching the film 1962 movie Days of Wine and Roses, he pondered over the toxicity in his life. "Sometimes you miss things that weren't particularly good for you," he said in 2004 to SongFacts. "It's just something that crossed my mind from watching that movie, and probably something else that happened in my life that I'm not aware of."

Covered By: Soul For Real | Candy Rain (1994) Michael Jackson | Got to Be There (1972) The Boris Gardiner Happening | Is What's Happening (1973) The Temptations | Solid Rock (1972)

Standout: Michael Jackson | Got to Be There (1972)

At 14, the future King of Pop gave a riveting cover of Withers' hit for his debut album, Got To Be There. From his vocal control throughout the track to the instrumentation, his cover takes the song to another level of heartbreak.

6. "Grandma's Hands” | Just As I Am (1971)

Sampled On: BLACKstreet - “No Diggity” feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen | Another Level (1996) Big K.R.I.T. - “I Gotta Stay” | K.R.I.T. Wuz Here (2010) Brother Ali - “Waheedah's Hands” | Champion (2004)

Standout: BLACKstreet - “No Diggity” feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen | Another Level (1996)

R&B heads are well aware of BLACKstreet's neverending ballads and the genius of Teddy Riley. But the pivot of their sound for their sophomore album Another Level was due to Withers and the William “Stylez” Stewart. Speaking to Fact Mag in 2017, the creator of New Jack Swing gave credit to Stylez for bringing him the sample of "Grandma's Hands."

“If he hadn’t played that sample for me, there would never be a ‘No Diggity’ And if he didn’t write it according to the melody I gave him so it would sound that way because I wanted it to sound funky,” he said. “I wanted it to be appealing to everyone, but mostly to women. I wanted every woman to feel like they were the ‘No Diggity’ girl and that song was about them and it came across. And now, still, today, that song plays and people are on that dancefloor.”

Covered By: Gil Scott-Heron, Reflections (1981) Merry Clayton, Merry Clayton (1971) Barbra Streisand, Butterfly (1974)

Standout: Gil Scott-Heron, Reflections (1981)

Gil Scott-Heron's version of the soul classic reminded us of his versatile talents. From spoken word to his vocal abilities, the Godfather of rap music always came through with his own sound and style. Reflections was one of four albums the late artist dropped in the 80s with critics looking to it as one of his finest projects. Other cuts from the album included "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" and "B Love."

5. "Use Me" | Still Bill (1972)

Sampled On: Kendrick Lamar - “Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst"  | Good kid, Maad City (2012) J. Cole- "Dollar And A Dream II" | The Warm-Up (2009) Leela James - “So Good" | Fall For You (2014) UGK - "Use Me Up" | The Southern Way (1992)

Standout: Kendrick Lamar - “Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst"  | Good kid, Maad City (2012)

Lamar's take on "Use Me" blended right into the themes of his debut album, Good kid, Maad City allowing the artist to create another world on the project. To make things even better, Lamar also sampled Al Green's "I'm Glad You're Mine" for the track.

Covered By: Grace Jones, Indigo Nights, Live (2008) Mick Jagger feat. Lenny Kravitz, Wandering Spirit  (2004) Issac Hayes, Dr. Dolittle Soundtrack (1998)

Standout: Mick Jagger feat. Lenny Kravitz, Wandering Spirit (2004)

On his third solo album, Jagger linked with Rick Rubin to test his creative energy, allowing him to work with Lenny Kravitz on their version of "Use Me." Colliding worlds was one thing but to hear Kravitz's vocals come in on the bridge, set the track apart from the rest.

4. “Kissing My Love” | Still Bill (1972)

Sampled On: J. Cole - “The Cut Off" featuring kiLL Edward  | KOD (2018) Dr. Dre - "Let Me Ride" featuring Snoop Dogg, RC and Jewell | The Chronic (1992) Masta Ace- "Movin On" | Take A Look Around (1990) Master P- "Bastard Child" | The Ghettos Tryin To Kill Me! | 1994

Standout: Dr. Dre - "Let Me Ride" featuring Snoop Dogg, RC and Jewell | The Chronic (1992)

"Kissing My Love" is one of most sampled from Withers catalog, thanks to its feverish drums. It's also why it fits into Dr. Dre's single and the G-funk era.

3. Grover Washington's “Just The Two of Us” featuring Bill Withers | Winelight (1981)

Sampled/Covered On:  Will Smith - “Just The Two of Us” | Big Willie Style (1997) Eminem- "Just The Two of Us" | Slim Shady EP (1997) Keri Hilson- "Pretty Girl Rock" | No Boys Allowed (2010)

Standout: Will Smith - “Just The Two of Us” | Big Willie Style (1997)

Touching and soulful, Smith's dedication to his eldest son Trey is just too cute for words.

2. “Let It Be” | Just As I Am  (1967)

The Original: The Beatles - “Let It Be” | Let It Be (1968)

"Let It Be" is a pretty special record. Aretha Franklin recorded a version a year before the release of The Beatles' version and Withers gave his take on the record in the 70s. Slightly faster, his upbeat take on "Let It Be" just hits different.

1. “Rosie” | Menagerie Re-Issue (1977)

Sampled On: Kanye West - “Roses” |  Late Registration (2005)

As the somber part of Late Registration, "Roses" brings us into Kanye's world where he contemplates the mortality of a loved one. It's a sentimental take on the sample and one of the artist's most underrated songs. It's also a hidden gem for Withers as it isn't featured on Menagerie's LP. It was added as a bonus track on

Enjoy the jams in playlist form below.

Continue Reading
YouTube

Remain Calm: 5 Ways To Curve Negative Effects Of Coronavirus Isolation

Self-isolation during the coronavirus outbreak seems to be best practice in keeping our families and peers safe but it's also a shift in our normal social behavior. As millions of families around the country get adjusted to self-isolation, the state of our mental health and how our bodies react to the practice are changing by the day, especially lower-income and marginalized groups.

Speaking with Wired, John Vincent, a clinical psychologist at the University of Houston, shared how apathetic behavior can rise to the forefront, making space for anxiety and depression.

“People start getting lethargic when they don’t have positive inputs into their small worlds,” Vincent says. “We can expect depression to kick in, and depression and anxiety are kissing cousins.”

But the biggest reason behind the uneasiness isn't the self-isolation but just how long it will last. Details of COVID-19 are changing by the day with the most cases now coming out of New York. Yet, there's still little to no information on what happens next.

“Open, transparent, consistent communication is the most important thing governments and organizations can do: Make sure people understand why they are being quarantined first and foremost, how long it is expected to last,” Samantha Brooks of King’s College London told the outlet. “A huge factor in the negative psychological impact seems to be confusion about what's going on, not having clear guidelines, or getting different messages from different organizations.”

Uncertainty hitting low income and marginalized groups is also a problem within itself. As virtual parties and celebrities opening up on social media happen on a daily, there are people who might not access fun distractions on the web.

“Some people have posited technology as a means of connecting people, but lower-income groups might not even have FaceTime or Skype or minutes on their phone,” Thomas Cudjoe, a geriatrician researching the intersection of social connections and aging at Johns Hopkins University says. “People take that for granted, using their devices can be a strain on people’s incomes.”

To make self-isolation less than a bore or a daunting task, experts suggest creating a schedule to dictate control in your home.

1. Work It Out

Gyms are closed, but your home can be transformed into a personal training center. Use heavy bags for weights and if you can, create a playlist of workouts on YouTube. For those who have memberships for Blink or Peloton, the platforms have streamed their workouts on apps.

2. Mindful Meditation

Meditation isn't about dumping your thoughts, it's about staying aware and mindful. AQUA has developed online that leverages the power of "Mindful Meditation and Mobility Movements" for flexibility and fluidity in the body. Classes are free of charge but feel free to donate.

3. Take It Back To High School

Give your friends a call or indulge in a FaceTime party. Feel free to use the Wifi in your home to reduce the amount of data used on your phone. Lala Anthony held a too-cute FT birthday party for writer Kiyonna Anthony with a 70s theme. You can also find creative ways to hop on the phone with friends and family instead of constantly chatting about 'rona.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

We made the best out of our quarantine situation🎉‼️FACETIME 70s Party💃🏽🎉HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY NIECE @kiyonnathewriter ❤️❤️💃🏽💃🏽SHOUT OUT TO ALL MY ARIES ♈️ MAKE THE BEST OF IT!!!😘

A post shared by ℒᎯ ℒᎯ (@lala) on Mar 23, 2020 at 7:14pm PDT

4. Start A Journal

Journals just aren't for kids. The practice not only gives you something to do, but it fuels creativity and a new level of self-awareness. Former First Lady Michelle Obama recently developed Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice, with over 150 inspiring questions and quotes that connect to key themes in her memoir. The journal will also help bring readers to terms with the importance of family and personal reflections as well as the goals they'd like to make a reality.

5. Have a Dance Party or Enjoy Lo-Fi Beats To Quarantine To

If you don't have data or battery power to watch a virtual DJ party, make your own. If you have to pull out your record player, do it! You can also hop on your favorite streaming service and create a playlist all your own.

Continue Reading
Getty Images

From Teen Sensation To Vocal Bible: Brandy's 15 Best Songs

September 27, 2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the multiplatinum self-titled debut album by one of R&B’s greatest voices, Brandy Rayana Norwood, or simply Brandy. She was already well on her way to stardom prior to her debut as a background vocalist for Immature and one of the stars of the short-lived ABC series, Thea. However, it was the album Brandy that set her on the path to tremendous success.

Since officially bursting onto the scene in 1994 sporting her well-known braided crown of glory, she has been a force to be reckoned with. She was handpicked by her idol, the late Whitney Houston, to portray the role of the first Black Cinderella in the 1997 film Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella. Her show Moesha was one of the longest-running black sitcoms. Brandy was also a CoverGirl in 1999 and became a friend of Barbie that same year when Mattel released the Brandy Doll. In music, she’s released six studio albums, sold more than 40 million records worldwide, headlined three world tours, and won more than 30 awards including seven Billboard Music Awards, a Grammy and the Soul Train Lady of Soul Award. Brandy deserves her flowers.

Let’s check out the top 15 songs that helped solidify Brandy as your favorite singer’s favorite singer (just ask Solange) and earned her the title of the “Vocal Bible.”

Continue Reading

Top Stories