The Underrated: Tony! Toni! Tone!

By @TrueGodImmortal

With DAR R&B week closing out, we took a moment to showcase one of the most underrated groups period. Tony! Toni! Tone! is a collective that truly brought a fresh style to the music game and spawned the career of the legendary Raphael Saadiq as well. However, before there was any Lucy Pearls, any Ray-Ray, or any of Raphael's outside endeavors, his start began here. This is the foundation and when they arrived on the scene in 1988, they wouldn't captivate the world completely, but managed to gain a substantial fanbase and make a successful album. Their first album "Who", which cracked gold, was highlighted by the album's lone big hit "Little Walter" and other moderate hits like "Baby Doll", "For The Love Of You", and more, though my favorite song from this album was "Not Gonna Cry For You". The West Coast based group had a distinct sound and with their first album, they truly set the tone for what was coming.

The second album would be the one that truly catapulted them to the top of the world it would seem. With the 1990 release of "The Revival", they would elevate the genre of New Jack Swing R&B, with an album that was as creative as it was infectious. With hits like "It Never Rains(In Southern California)" and the new jack swing era jam "Feels Good", The Revival album would end up selling over 2 million copies to be certified double platinum. With other classics like "I Care", "Whatever You Want" and "All The Way", The Revival is without a doubt an important R&B album of the 90s. There is no doubt about that. Another hit the group garnered came from the Boyz N The Hood soundtrack, with their timeless classic "Me And You".

Armed with a distinct sound, creative ideas, and artistic genius, the group went to work on their third album and it would be their best, in my opinion. The 1993 release "Sons Of Soul" once again combined the usual R&B, soul and funk sounds, but yet again, they elevated their game. With hits on this album like "If I Had No Loot", "(Lay Your Head On My) Pillow", and of course the timeless song "Anniversary", the album would surpass the sales of the previous one, and be almost certified triple platinum. The band was rolling, with consistent success and as they embarked on tour, things would change for them. The tour would not go as great as planned and the group took a hiatus, before returning in 1996.

With their 1996 album "House Of Music", they would return with a vengeance, however they would not see the multi platinum success on the last two with this one. Unfortunately, this album suffered some from the change in era during the three year hiatus. The band seemed to adjust and managed to score two hits with the DJ Quik assisted "Let's Get Down" and "Thinking Of You". I personally enjoyed this album and think that the band has a rather flawless catalog, making them one of the best groups of the 90s. However, this would be the final album from the group.

As always, the great bands always break up and while Raphael Saadiq would end up having a measure of solo success, the rest of the band would remain mostly quiet, outside of a small return to assist Alicia Keys on "Diary". Regardless, during their run, they were untouchable. Tony! Toni! Tone! are legends! Recognize the greatness.



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