Everyone loves a good throwback. That sudden reminder of the past, if done right, can send you into a blissful flashback of memories that can trigger big smiles.
This is exactly why we love TV One’s longest-running and award-winning series, Unsung. In its eleventh season, Unsung has captured audiences by offering music lovers an in-depth behind-the-scenes view into the lives of their favorite performers, as heard from the artists themselves. The stories of perseverance, determination and success told through first-hand accounts reminds us of the rich history of Black music.
Here are five music acts we love featured on Unsung, our go-to throwback show.
1 Jagged Edge
Remember where you were the first time you heard JE’s “Let’s Get Married?”
Didn’t it make you wanna put a ring on it?
From choirboys to R&B superstars, the harmonies of Jagged Edge dominated the early 2000s with back-to-back number one hits and two double platinum albums.
Comprised of twin brothers Brian and Brandon Casey, along with Kyle Norman and Richard Wingo, the quartet emerged from the suburbs of Atlanta under the production of Jermaine Dupri’s SoSo Def Records. But after cutting ties with Dupri, the love dissipated in more ways than one as they struggled to stay on the charts and contemplated going separate ways.
Their story had never been told— until now.
Shanice debuted in the early ’90s with her explosive #1 single, “I Love Your Smile.”
You know it. You’ve sung it. Don’t front.
Known for a five-octave range and a signature smile that went with her most famous song, Shanice found success on both the Pop and R&B charts. In this candid episode of Unsung, Shanice opens up about her life as a child star, her heartbreaking struggles in the music business, and the moment when she and her family lost it all.
Her story had never been told. ‘Til now.
3 Marvin Sapp
Gospel superstar, Marvin Sapp has been spreading the Gospel through song for over three decades. His new school sound mixed with traditional gospel rhythms led him to dominate the gospel charts in the 2000s with seven Top 10 hits, including “Never Would’ve Made It,” “The Best in Me,” and “My Testimony.”
The Pastor’s music has resonated way beyond the pulpit, often being played on mainstream radio and even landing on the Billboard R&B and Hot 100 charts. But Sapp’s faith would be tested on several occasions— from illness, to personal attacks, to the tragic death of his wife, MaLinda, to colon cancer.
His story had never been told.
You get it.
4 Wyclef Jean
Wyclef Jean skyrocketed to fame with his group, The Fugees, in the late ’90s. Along with fellow Haitian Pras Michel and songstress Lauryn Hill, the trio broke records with their critically acclaimed sophomore album, The Score, which became a multi-platinum, Grammy-winning hit.
When romance troubles between Wyclef and Lauryn forced them to go their separate ways, many thought he would fade into obscurity. Instead, he succeeded in his solo career with hits like “We’re Trying to Stay Alive” and “Gone Till November.”
One of the original gangsters of rap, Ice-T’s hardcore lyrics about life on the streets of South Central L.A. set the tone for the genre and made him an icon.
He was the first rapper ever to have a Parental Advisory sticker on his CD cover. Ice’s music would inspire a new generation of artists like Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, The Game and more. “6 In The Mornin,” and “Colors” were all classic portraits of never before documented gangster life. But while many of his peers were simply about misogyny, Ice’s music had a layered moral message: Don’t repeat this behavior or you might end up in jail or a casket.
Ice has lived nine lives: pimp, bank robber, DJ, army officer, con-man and even award-winning actor and producer.
When we spoke to Ice exclusively he told us his original plan was never to be an actor. He didn’t know where rap would lead him, he just applied himself.
“Remember, when I started rapping, nobody had even bought a car rapping, there was no money in it yet. Run-D.M.C. hadn’t really popped off yet, it was just something fun to do, and I was just in it to catch women. We never thought any of this would happen, ever,” he told CASSIUS.
Now, he gets to tell his side of the story.