Xscape’s “Off The Hook.”

 

Released: July 1st, 1995

Genre: R&B, hip hop soul

Label: So So Def / Columbia

Producer: Jermaine Dupri, Carl-So-Lowe, Organized Noize, Daryl Simmons.

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Xscape is one of the most amazing R&B girl groups vocally in the past 30 years. Consisting of Kandi Burruss, Tameka “Tiny’ Harris (née Cottle) & sisters LaTocha & Tamika Scott. Originally a quintet with another founder Tamera Coggins-Wynn, they became a quartet a year later and eventually was the first act signed to Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def label. Their 1993 debut album Hummin’ Comin’ at Cha” spawned two of the biggest hits of that year and was certified platinum by the RIAA!

Xscape’s Off The Hook embodies the title to a T! Released 25 years ago, Off The Hook is a R&B album with elements of the sub-genre hip hop soul. In my opinion, Off The Hook is a coming of age album because it gave them a more mature sound for the bedroom and on the hip hop dance floors. Like how “CrazySexyCool” was TLC’s magnum opus, the same could be said for OTH.

Giving the group another top 3 album on the R&B album charts, Off The Hook was also certified platinum by the RIAA, cementing their status as one of R&B’s commercially successful girl groups of all time.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Xscape’s “Off The Hook.”

Do Your Thang

Written by Isaac Hayes

The album starts off with a hip hop influenced cover of legendary soul singer Isaac Hayes’ “Do Your Thing.” It serves as a wonderful intro for the album because you hear a phone being off of the hook..and giving us a glimpse of what will come with the album.

Feels So Good

Written by Jermaine Dupri, Carl-So-Lowe, Xscape.

The lead single of the album showcases the more mature sensual sound of the ladies. With Kandi & LaTocha singing lead, the ladies express how much they enjoy having a man making them feel good in every way possible.

Hard To Say Goodbye

Written by Jermaine Dupri, Carl-So-Lowe, Xscape, Manuel Seal.

Hard To Say Goodbye is a song about the downs of a love gone wrong. We’ve all been there. When the person we love is hurting us more than loving us, and it is difficult to let go of the love and memories that we share with them.

Can’t Hang

Written by Jermaine Dupri, Carl-So-Lowe, Xscape, Lana Moorer, Frankie Beverly.

One of my favorite Xscape songs is Can’t Hang. A top 10 hit on the charts, the song discusses men’s performance in the bedroom. He may talk a good game, but whewww we know how that go! It features a verse from legendary rapper MC Lyte, who they also recorded another song with titled “Keep On, Keepin’ On.

The video is amazing as well! The girls throw a baby shower for a very pregnant Tiny (she was pregnant with her daughter Zonnique). The songs contains an interpolation of “Southern Girl” by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly & contains a sample of Bernard Wright’s “Haboglabotribin’.”

Who Can I Run To

Written by Charles B. Simmons, Frank Austin Jr. & Richard Roebuck.

I always say if you’re going to cover a classic, it better be GOOD! Xscape did just that with their rendition of The Jones Girls’ 1979 hit Who Can I Run To.” Not only did this song become one of their signature records, it gave them their third number one song.

Who can I run to, when I need love?

The music video gives us a storyline and an old school girl group performance. The storyline for the video is Tiny’s man is there at the venue they’re performing at with another woman, which angers Tiny. The group brings down the house with the Scott sisters singing lead. Tiny and Kandi blended well with the ladies as well. Brilliant. Remarkable. A classic.

Hip Hop Barber Shop Request Line

Written by Jermaine Dupri, Skeeter Rock, RZA & Method Man

An interlude on the album has a woman (Rapper Da Brat) requesting “Do You Want To” by Xscape. It samples Da Brat & Method Man.

Do You Want To

Written by Daryl Simmons.

Another classic from the group has Tiny & LaTocha singing their hearts out in the slow ballad, and asking does he want what she wants.

What Can I Do

Written by Jermaine Dupri, Xscape, Muhammad Bell, Eric Sadler, Shirley Murdock, Slick Rick, Roger Troutman, Larry Troutman, Hank Shocklee.

What Can I Do is one for the dance floor, even though it is a song about being in love with a someone who left them. The song samples Slick Rick’s “Lick The Balls,” & interpolates Zapp’s “Computer Love.”

Do Like Lovers Do

Written by Jermaine Dupri, Xscape, Carl-So-Lowe & Xscape

One of my highlights from the album, Do Like Lovers Do is a sensual ballad led by Kandi & LaTocha. The song contains a sample of Loose Ends’ “You Can’t Stop The Rain.”

Work Me Slow

Written by Daryl Simmons.

Work Me Slow is one of those ballads that have the ladies telling their men that you have to take your time. Build up the momentum the love making begins. The song was also featured on the soundtrack to the 1995 blockbuster film Bad Boys.

Love’s a Funny Thing

Written by Kevin Kendrick.

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, is that love is a funny thing. The ladies sing about how love can be good gone bad, and how it can be on your heart.

Keep It On The Real

Written by Rico Wade, Sleepy Brown, Ray Murray, Brandon Bennett, Organized Noize & Erika Nuri Taylor

All the ladies ask for on the last song on the record is to keep it real. Be honest & frank about what you want and how you feel!

Xscape would go on to release their last platinum selling studio album to date “Traces of My Lipstick in 1998, and had hits with “My Little Secret,” “The Arms of The One Who Loves You” & “Softest Place on Earth.”

The group would eventually disband and would not reunite until 2017 where they went on tour and had a tv series showcasing what lead up to going on tour! Having 3 consecutive platinum albums and 6 top ten hits on the pop charts, Xscape will always go down for being one of the baddest girl groups of all time.

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Off The Hook takes me to a place of happiness and great memories. I was only 3 years old when this album dropped, but I remember my mom buying the album and being fascinated with the album cover and the phone being off the hook. That is exactly what Xscape’s music is…off the HOOK. -MJ

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