I’m doing this post for this Music Monday to drop some music history and knowledge behind my groundbreaking single “Friends.” A lot of misinformation and out right lack of knowledge; it’s my duty to not only always tell my own story but to make sure those who don’t know – learn it.
Excerpt from Okayplayer Ten Songs That Kicked Off Rap/Sung Collaborations in the 80’s. read full article : Okayplayer
“…The single was released in April 1989 and steadily rose up the charts. The video became popular on both BET and MTV, garnering a coveted spot on Donnie Simpson’s Video Soul Top 20… but the big news is “FRIENDS” with Jody Watley ft Eric B & Rakim managed to do WHAT NO PREVIOUS R&B/Rap collaboration had done before: crossover to the Hot 100 charts. “Friends” reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 in August 1989. When Jody Watley performed “Friends” on The Arsenio Hall Show, Eric B. & Rakim weren’t present but she performed Rakim’s verse effortlessly.
This monumental event in R&B/Rap collaboration history has largely gone overlooked close to 30 years after the fact.”
It’s definitely overlooked, and necessary to note. Saying it louder for those in the back – it was the first to crossover on three charts Top 10 and most significantly the Hot 100…paving the way for a new collaborations, easier access to Pop and R&B radio (eventually pushing out R&B – to become primarily all rap/hip-hop) previously had before balked at playing rap music at all, so a lot of the airplay initially had the no rap edit which is why many don’t realize the significance.
The video “Club Couture” was also notable.. my concept a real underground New York nightclub where everyone came to be fabulous, dance, perform – b-boys, and hop hop dancers getting their party on with voguers and ball kids, drag queens, transgender, mixed cultures all partying together.connected through music without hate being as you are – and fabulous as I came through in Gaultier couture from Paris – people weren’t ready. It’s still my hope. Everything I do comes from a place of being authentic – ‘Friends’ directed by Jim Sonzero was another example of that.
Albumism: Happy 30th Anniversary to Jody Watley’s Second Solo Album “Larger Than Life” Originally Released March 27, 1989 – Read it Here on Albumism
Happy Music Anniversary to my second solo album “Larger Than Life” featuring Top 10 singles “Real Love” the groundbreaking collaboration with Eric B & Rakim “Friends” the ballad “Everything” as well as the beautiful “Precious Love” :: The album cover with photography by legendary fashion Steven Meisel and Art Direction by Lynn Robb and I, is also in 1000 Album Covers published by Taschen.
Jody Watley is noted as a pioneer and influencer in R&B nothing the significance of the Eric B & Rakim collaboration as contemporary R&B continues to try to find it’s way in the midst of continued Hip Hop dominance:
#TBT On The Cover of the UK Music Magazine Blues and Soul in 1989.
Celebrating 25 years of my second album. Most fans think of my solo debut as the breakthrough and it was – as well as being trendsetting in style and video. However my second album is the one that was really quietly the most pioneering and to me overshadowed. My infusion of high fashion, commercial ad campaigns and layouts – uncommon for any black artist at the time, and only by one other Madonna. ‘Larger Than Life’ ushered in a raised bar for other female artists that would follow. The pioneering “Friends” featuring Eric B & Rakim; the first to feature Pop/R&B/Hip-Hop 16 bar verses and crossing over R&B, Pop, Dance, Hip Hop – as well as a genre crossing video featuring transgender, drag queens, underground club culture, B-Boys and Girls, voguing and Jean Paul-Gaultier couture blended into a mix of high end and street chic as well as my highest charting ballad ‘Everything.” There was no press release to stir controversy and bring attention about the casting of the video – for me it wasn’t about that. Everyone in the video was real, friends of friends – not models or professionals. Tyrone Procter helped cast it. Eric B and Rakim called some of their friends. What I wanted to represent the types of clubs I liked dancing at full of of types of people united by the music and stepping out in style to get down on the dance floor. It was a real club scene in the west village on a hot summer afternoon in NYC. It went over the heads of a lot of people..my label didn’t know what to make of it, and weren’t happy with it – but let me do what I envisioned and I’m thankful.
I also found success overseas in the Japan, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom among others as well. It was always a challenge because I wasn’t the typical ‘urban black artist’ and was always in a struggle to shine on my own terms, remaining true to myself, wanting to have standards, authenticity to my artistry. 25 years later this is still true in everything I do whether on the commercial radar or not. It’s true no matter what your job or career is – be the best you.
“Real Love” which remains one of MTV’s Most Nominated Video’s and “Most of All” are featured on the Top 28 David Fincher video’s : HERE