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R&B Heroes You've Forgotten About

From Blu Cantrell to City High these throwback tracks will have you shouting"Oh yeeeeah!" at your screen.

R&B has always been a treasure chest of soul ballads, heavily choreographed croons and one hit wonders. The latter includes so many names, that we'd be here all day trying to file the Mario Winans next to the Lumidees. But at some crossroad between all of these gems, are the tracks that elicit an involuntary "OH YEEEEEAH" every time they're played. Tracks that are now resigned to the deeper recesses of R&B folklore but, luckily for us, we have YouTube and very good selective memories on our side here at Noisey. Here are just some of R&B's forgotten heroes.

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CITY HIGH

One of the best one hit wonders from the 00s R&B vault definitely came from these New Jerseyites. City High’s “What Would You Do” was that song that you could warble along to with your pals regardless of being tone deaf, but it was OK 'cos it was about important social issues and not, y'know, casual sex. Seriously though, it was a really thought-provoking track that covered everything from teenage pregnancies to single parenting. Throw something about illegal immigrants and it's practically an anti-Republican campaign anthem. If that's not enough one of City High's members —one of the GUYS not even Claudette— went all Mariah Carey on us in Sister Act 2 on “Oh Happy Day”. If that doesn’t make you smile, you’re either dead or have shitty teeth.

Heroes for: Genuinely releasing one of the best catchy R&B thought-provokers of all time.

ALL 4 ONE

Potential joint gold medallists for ugliest boy band of all time along with AJ McLean from Backstreet Boys and Chris Kirkpatrick from N’Sync are Californian slow jam-appreciators, All 4 One. You've probably blocked their faces from your memory but who could forget 1994’s “I Swear”, a song that saw them insist upon astrology that they would be there for their prospective girlfriend. It was made even more saccharine by their not at all creepy spying on women from the top of a ten-storey building. Are they just shy? Do they find pointing at people arousing? Will the Asian one ever get his solo? So many questions left unanswered until they decide to do some comeback tour. Wait, that’s already happening.


Heroes for: Making me feel that I could pull girls from my bedroom window with a single point of my index finger.

BLU CANTRELL

Before we break off into some poignant tirade about Blu Cantrell’s handling of baby blue Mercs, pour out some liquor for Sean Paul’s cainrows. Because it seems there’s a direct correlation between his chosen hairstyle and the quality of his musical content. When he started doing things like this, his musical imagination was robbed Samson and Delilah style. Back to the real point, Blu Cantrell released “Breathe” as the lead single from her 2003 album, Bittersweet. It was a time when pop R&B was bearing enough sing-a-long anthems to service any current year six disco several times over and still stands as a timeless gem for catchy hooks and videos with too much Vaseline gloss. It was so big, in fact, that gossip mags deemed Blu famous enough to dig up snaps of her during a particularly rough financial patch in 1995, when she ended up posing nude for some top-shelf mags. Nowadays, Blu's kept her growler out of photoshoots in favour of appearing on cancelled after one series show Celebrity Circus. She was voted off after the first episode, but reeled back in for the grand finale to perform "Hit Em Up Style", that song she did that didn’t have Sean Paul in it. Here she is pussying out of the trapeze. Still, Blu, we salute you.

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MARIO

There was a period during school when everyone had a bit of Mario humming out of their phones. The sweet boys would rejoice when Capital FM played “You Should Let Me Love You” and the tough kids sheepishly mumbled the second verse before dropping their inhibitions and trying to reach that high note, while pulling their low bats up. Mario's delicate blend of R&B about treating women right with one-on-one dance offs had him onto a winner and his videos ended up doubling as instructional tapes for anyone trying to perform an awkward hip-hop choreography 101 at a family party.

KP & ENVYI

TWEET

Though she was brought back to life with Hudson Mohawke’s remix of bean-flicking anthem “Oops, Oh My”, Tweet should have been destined for a life of never ending luxury after she managed to drag Missy Elliot onto her palm-sweatingly durrrtty hit. But after a few dismal attempts at topping perfection, she firmly disappeared off the face of the earth. Tweet’s last efforts were singles entitled “Sports, Sex & Food” (which despite a disarmingly jazzy instrumental is lyrically horrifying) and a stint warning MTV viewers about the dangers of STIs. No glove no love.

Heroine for: Making tweenagers unwittingly sing about masturbation.

SISQO

Every time I hear those opening violin bars of the "Thong Song" it’s straight to the dance floor and twerk central. That white gilet suit, the sneering face, the baby-oiled butt cheeks, the suspect spray on hair colour. Where’ve you gone Sisqo?! Oh, apparently you're appearing on Celebrity Big Brother and gawping over Ronnie Wood’s sloppy seconds. In an arguably more cringe affair he also lost out to Enrique Iglesias’s dad to win a country music recording contract. Seriously. It’s not all hard knocks though, because Sisqo performed two consecutive weeks in sunny Liverpool last September, scoring himself a place in the hearts of all Newz Bar regulars.

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Hero for: Immortalising the most uncomfortable underwear in history.

GINUWINE

Full name Elgin Baylor Lumpkin, Ginuwine did pretty well for himself until about six years ago when a load of things he was supposed to be doing got flushed down the sinkhole of broken promises. Hate it when that happens. But when every career avenue dries up and you've got nothing on, what’s a guy to do but dress up like a stripper and endorse ‘Adult Chocolate Milk’. Ginuwine has been behind 20% chocolate flavoured vodka for a while now, which is a pretty hefty demotion for someone once on a track with Diddy, Pharrell and Busta Rhymes called "Pass the Courvoisier", but whutevs. More worrying is that recently he appeared off his fucking rocker (maybe too much chocolate milk?) on some chat show with his new sexy smooth band, TGT, alongside fellow ailing crooners Tyrese and Tank. His new bandmates look appalled but I just can't help but LMAO.

Hero for: dancingalonetopony.tumblr.com

Follow Errol and Tamara on Twitter @errol_and and @tamararoper