For this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I decided to visit the Buckeye State and pay homage to The Rude Boys. The Cleveland-based quartet consisted of Larry Marcus, Melvin Sephus, Edward Lee “Buddy” Banks, and Joe Little III. Initially breaking onto the scene in 1990 with the hits “Written All Over Your Face” and “Are You Lonely For Me” from their debut, they wasted no time returning to the studio.
Slow Jam Saturday: Nicole Wray, Eyes Better Not Wander
The late nineties R&B sound produced so much talent that artists sometimes got lost in the shuffle. Even heavyweight producers’ backing didn’t always guarantee long-term success. Too often in the R&B genre, an artist can get written off as a one-hit wonder even though they’ve continued to release music. Nicole Wray (who now goes by the stage name Lady Wray) is one such artist.
I first heard Wray on the track “Gettaway” from Missy Elliott’s first album Supa Dupa Fly way back in 1997. A few years prior, Wray caught Elliott’s ear with a performance of SWV’s “Weak.” The performance led to Wray becoming the first recording artist on Elliott’s label. In the summer of 1998, Wray released her first single, “Make It Hot,” which would earn a gold selling certification.
However, as you know, it is Slow Jam Saturday. This week we are highlighting “Eyes Better Not Wander,” the third and final single from Wray’s debut Make It Hot. Nicole linked up with Static and Smoke from vastly underrated trio Playa for the song.
Static and Smoke co-wrote the song and handled the vocal arrangements, while Smokey received producing credit. The message is still relevant when I hear the track at age forty-one. Honestly, I think Static and Smoke may have written the song from a personal experience that stemmed from having a wandering eye. Nicole effectively sings the lyrics :
“Hey there u, boy, I’ve done had it with this
All day I’ve been watching your ways
It seems when the ladies walk by
Ur head can’t keep from turning see, finally, I’m learning
Oh, no way, not me I’m not having that there
I see soon we’ll be heading our own ways
There’s no explanation for me
Cause u cant be huggin on me when ur eyes are across the street, oh
I could care less in how hard it may be
Your eyes better not wander while you’re walking next to me
If she’s so fine, then that’s where you should be
Your eyes better not wander while your walking next to me, oh.”
Only fate knows why Nicole’s debut didn’t substantially impact the charts. However, any real nineties R&B fan will validate just how strong the album is.
Final Grade: A-
“Eyes Better Not Wander from Make It Hot is available on all streaming platforms.
More reviews to explorer
Valentine’s Day 2024 may have come and gone, but I still plan to use highlight songs with the V-word for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. The artist I chose is a southern gentleman by the name of Lloyd. Initially breaking onto the scene as a member of the preteen-boy band N-Toon, Lloyd’s solo career kicked off in 2004 with the hit “Southside.”
As we continue to celebrate the month of love, I chose “Valentine by Ryan Leslie as the second song with the word valentine for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. Leslie broke into the music industry in 2003, writing hits for Beyoncé and New Edition. Leslie released the singles “The Way That U Move Girl” and “Used 2 Be” featuring Fabolous. However, his debut album was never officially released due to creative differences with his record label. In late 2007, Leslie finally broke through with the bop “Diamond Girl,” and his self-titled album would finally hit record stores on February 10, 2009. Leslie also succeeded with the follow-up singles “Addiction” and “How It Was Supposed to Be.” Surprisingly, though, Leslie didn’t drop “Valentine” as the fourth single, which would have timed perfectly with the album release date.