The following is a group of young women near and dear to my heart, judged based on shallow criteria and ranked accordingly. I was in good company pining away for the divas of R&B who ran urban and pop airways when I was a kid. Biggie already made his definitive wish list, so here's mine. You'll notice a few notable exclusions such as Beyonce, Alicia Keyes and Mary J. Blige who are still very relevant today and Brandy, who looks like an alien. I ranked them in something resembling an order but a lot of them are toss-ups, besides they're all winners to me.
10. Alia Davis (From Allure)
The one in the middle, obviously. I bought this album back in the day off the strength of Tone and Poke's co-sign. It was meh at best, the Nas banger below, (pay no attention to how ridiculous Nas looked at the height of Escobar season) a good slow jam or two but mostly a waste of a trip to The Wall. Alia Davis is a bit of a two face. Google her name and you will come up with a truly horrific shot. But back in the days before Google when all I had was a CD booklet she was a dime.
9. Melissa Schuman (From Dream)
The only snowflake on the list and barely an R&B singer (but, given the suffix on her last name there's probably some Hebrew in the mix). Dream was Puff Daddy's response to the boy and girl band movements of the late 90s. As you might guess it wasn't very good and we never heard from any of them again. I would recommend watching the video on mute and laughing at how little singing this chick actually does, Diddy definitely brought her in solely for her personality. However, I stand by this selection and used to check Dream videos only for glimpses of her, so it worked. On shallow principles alone she could top this list, but as you'll see the quality of the music produced was definitely taken into account at some points.
8. Toni Braxton
Toni Braxton always had this strange older-lady-hot quality to her I still don't exactly understand. It might have something to do with her being 17 years older than me. Or maybe because she was hot forever and almost definitely had some type of plastic surgery done at some point. Plus she doesn't always look this good.
Monica, I love Monica. Made some great songs, (minus that obnoxious ass shit about being allowed to be a bitch because it's that time of the month. Anyone else have to deal with hearing that song in middle school as some kind of excuse?) plus I always felt like she had a real life, approachable quality. The picture above is her at her airbrushed and extended "best" but she was regular cute most of the time.
6. Keisha Spivey (from Total)
It seems like every R&B girl group has a busted member with short hair, as you can see Total had two, not a good look for a trio. Keisha was the obligatory dime, co-signed by my man Omar Epps who wifed it. I could've gone old school Total for the video but I've always liked this song which sailed under the radar and features a monster hook. It has that late 90s icy future synth prevalent on a lot of late 90s super pop. This is a Timbaland beat and serves as a point on his evolutionary scale, before he took this skeleton and went all dark and dystopian. Tune in tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion.