The past couple years have seen international DJ supafriends Onra & Lexis team up for two volumes of their celebrated mix series dedicated to post-New Jack Swing hip-hop-influenced ’90s R&B. Christened “Throw ‘Em Up” for the champagne glass gripping slow arm wave dance prevalent in so many of the era’s music vids, the song cycles have become so popular they’ve now inspired a “Throw ‘Em Up” DJ tour – possibly visiting a North American metropolis near you any day now. Before Onra & Lexis recently hit the road, however, they were kind enough to each choose 5 particular favorites from the “TEU” repertoire and let us know why they luh ‘em so. First up is the Paris-based beat-cician, Onra.
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1. Carl Henry ft. Big Ross - "Crazy Love (Remix)" (CMC, 1996)
Onra: “When we be stepping to the jams, girls like Faith and Lil’ Kim be tapping Puffy on the arm like ‘Who dat? Coming through the back.’” Unfortunately for Carl Henry that probably never really happened. What starts off like a cocky hit is actually a pretty romantic song from an (almost) one-hit-wonder from Canada. He never came out with a full LP when this came out, but absolutely kills it on this dope remix by Mic Professor.
2. G. Simone - "I Know, You Know" (Front Page Entertainment, 1994)
Onra: Imagine an underground hip-hop version of a Mary J. Blige song for all the girls who are packing heat. Little is known about this BDP affiliate but everything about this song is so raw, from the heavy drum break loop to the background vocals, that she makes it sound like it’s a classic.
3. Sean Levert - "Just Can't Get Enough" (Atlantic, 1995)
Onra: R.I.P. Sean Levert – who passed away in 2008. This is my jam even though Lexis put me on to this one. I love the composition and his voice fits in perfectly to deliver a super classy track. The album’s never been released on LP, it’s one of the few joints we wanted to make an exception for and play it via CD. Borderline-cheesy but actually really awesome.
4. Tha Truth! - "Gotta Find... (A New Love)" (Priority, 1996)
Onra: Def-Squad affiliated girl trio kills it on this joint! Everything about that beat is perfect, the samples, the bassline, the drums… There’s even a little Fender Rhodes solo at the end. Lots of jams on their only album Makin’ Moves… Everyday and I feel like it’s a true classic of the genre.
5. Sista ft. Craig Mack - "It's Alright" (MCA, 1995)
Onra: A collab track made in 1995 paradise, back when soundtracks were all hip-hop and R&B: Sista (Missy Eliott’s first band produced by Devante and Timbaland) featuring Craig Mack over a beat from Evil Dee of Da Beatminerz. The Dangerous Minds soundtrack had a couple other dope joints, but I like this one because it is truly reflective of that “Throw ‘Em Up” [aesthetic]. It was golden era for hip-hop music and it was also golden era for R&B.