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Where my girls at?
Platinum selling 702 rocks the mic once again on a shooting STAR. The heavenly body trio is back on the scene with their third effort.
Back in 1999, 702 quickly distinguished themselves from the rest of the femme pack. For over 6 months, their platinum single "Where My Girls At" was one of the most heard songs in the country, reaching over 100 million radio listeners. The contagiously up-tempo jam peaked at the #4 spot and sat in the TOP 20 of the Billboard HOT 100 charts for more than 30 weeks.
Now after a three-year hiatus the party starters, show stoppers promise to deliver a new sound for heads to nod to, group member Irish Grinstead describes STAR, the newest album as, "a fresh twist on R&B and hip hop. It's not really pop, at the same time it's not too hip hop, it's right in between to where I can see a Busta Rhymes listening to the album as well as a Britney Spears."
The 16-track disc boasts the same fun-loving, spiritedness that we've come to expect from the group. Same spirit, new mature edge. "We're all grown up now," says older Grinstead sister LeMisha.
And all grown up, they are. Dim the lights and light the candles for the seductive Janet Jackson-esque ballad, "Places," produced by newcomers Kollective Music. The ladies velvety vocals hit the spot like hot wax on bare skin.
When the Sin City natives first hit the scene in 1996 with their harmonizing blend of gospel, hip-hop, jazz and blues on their gold debut album, NO DOUBT, they were still wet-behind-the-ears teens.
With hitmaker producer/rapper Missy Elliot creating their first single, "Steelo," it quickly became a TOP 10 Gold single. The album also spawned their second TOP 10 Gold single, "Get It Together." In 1997 the group were awarded a Soul Train Lady of Soul Award for Best Album by a Group. Re-teaming with Elliot in 1999, 702 dropped their self-titled sophomore album which gave birth to the hit single "Where My Girls At".
While they express a little nervousness about not having their hitmaker on board this time around, they are excited about the producers who have contributed to the album.
"We're almost vets," says Irish. "It's been almost 10 years since we had our record deal. A lot of these producers remembered us, and watched us. It's a mutual respect thing and we're just very grateful to the producers."
"We felt that 702's new youthful energy but mature skill helped contrast our old school groove..." says Chad Hugo of the Neptunes. They produced the sure-to- be-a-club-favorite album title track.
"With 702, we wanted to bring out that classic R&B sound mixed with a bumpin' backbeat. We wanted to give them a song that gave you that warm, carwashin', sunny day, dancin' in the morning type song that you can listen to all year round. When you think of ?Star' it makes you think of twilight dancin' in the club late at night," Chad describes.
"Star" is the type of song that pulls you out of your chair because you have to get your groove on to the infectious beats and melodic hook, "you're my star." It has shades of En Vogue-like harmonies while Meelah funks up the lead vocals with a raw edginess.
They've come up with their own distinct style evident in "I Still Love You," the second track produced by the Neptunes. It lingers in your head long after the song has finished.
Some stars in the music galaxy burn a little brighter for a little longer and such is the case with 702. Talent mixed with chemistry equals longevity for these women.
Their chemistry is evident as they finish one another's sentences when trying to describe 702.
"Meelah has amazing vocals and Misha's very creative when it comes to writing," reveals Irish.
"Irish brings the sex appeal," Misha cuts in.
"We all do that," blurts Irish.
"We're different, but we have a mutual balance between the three of us. That makes it work well in the studio and onstage," group member Kameelah Williams completes.
When it comes to influences, they cite Donny Hathaway, Troop, Al Green, James Ingram, Brandy, Aaliyah, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Yolanda Adams, Whitney Houston and Lalah Hathaway, among others, as favorites.
"Honestly, this is the album that we are most proud of because we had a lot of control over it," says Irish. "When you hear this record, really you'll hear all three of us. It's our ideas, the things we went through and the type of record we wanted to sing." They put their experiences into words and penned four of the 14 tracks.
"We were able to let go and be who we were as individuals, so it was a breath of fresh air for us," adds Meelah.
Listen as 702's STAR give you eargasmic pleasure.