B Angie B - Stronger Than Ever (2016)

B Angie B
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B Angie B - Stronger Than Ever

Angela R. Boyd, known to hip hop old heads as B Angie B, can lay claim to being rap’s original song and dance woman. Her voice earned her a slot as the go to singer for MC Hammer’s elaborate rap concerts and as vocalist for the female rap group Oaktown 357. B Angie B became a key component in Hammer’s camp because she could more than hold her own as a dancer, which if you remember MC Hammer’s live shows from back in the day, was kind of necessary.

B Angie B - Stronger Than Ever

Angela R. Boyd, known to hip hop old heads as B Angie B, can lay claim to being rap’s original song and dance woman. Her voice earned her a slot as the go to singer for MC Hammer’s elaborate rap concerts and as vocalist for the female rap group Oaktown 357. B Angie B became a key component in Hammer’s camp because she could more than hold her own as a dancer, which if you remember MC Hammer’s live shows from back in the day, was kind of necessary.

However, B Angie B had the voice that she honed into a potent force singing in churches in her native Mississippi. That voice grabbed MC Hammer’s attention and earned her a deal on his Bust It label and in 1991 – at the height of Hammermania – B Angie B released her self-titled debut. Folks out in radio land can still hear her covers of the Emotions “I Don’t Want to Lose Your Love” and Chaka Kahn’s “Sweet Love,” although both will work their way into heavier rotation when nostalgia for all things 1990s is in vogue. Hopefully, this will prompt music directors and fans to rediscover a B Angie B original titled “So Much Love,” which is the true gem from that album.

B Angie B was a solid effort by an emergent talent, but it was overshadowed by everything else coming out of Oakland at that time by hip hop acts such as Hammer, Too $hort, Oaktown 357 and the R&B super group Tone, Toni, Tone. B Angie B’s debut album sold a little more than 130,000 copies. She soured on the industry after releasing another album in the mid-1990s, and Angela R. Boyd returned to Mississippi where she raised her children. However, she never lost desire to perform, and B Angie B returns now with Stronger Than Ever.

Notwithstanding B Angie B’s well-deserved reputation as a hip-hop dancer, Stronger Than Ever serves as a reminder that the singer moves into her wheelhouse when singing slow and mid-tempo songs that address the topics of love and inspiration. The project brims with cuts showcasing B Angie B’s ability to handle an R&B love song, starting with the mid-tempo jazz infused “I Just Want to Simply Love You” and ending with “Love” an old school styled soul joint right down to the gospel infused organs and the call and response backing vocals.

Stronger Than Ever is not devoid of up tempo material, but B Angie B flips that script on her listeners. The predictable play would have been to lend her voice to a track featuring rap influenced production techniques and perhaps using a guest rapper. Instead, the vocalist goes with “I Wanna Be,” a high energy dance number that recalls the sequined and strobe lights of the disco era, while the “Yes Is a Promise” with its deep groove bass line, EW&F inspired brass work and uplifting message to be true to your word, is a throwback to the smooth funk of the late 70s and early 80s.

B Angie B entered the public consciousness when rap acts collaborated with singers in hopes that such mashups would be their entrée to crossover appeal. She makes her return when R&B singers use rappers and hip-hop production techniques to signal relevancy. It is ironic and revealing that hip hop’s original song and dance woman uses nary a rapper on what turned out to be a solid and traditional R&B project that marks her welcome return. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes 

 
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