Music Video Monday: Black Box
Black Box; “Strike It Up”
Black Box’s 1990 album Dreamland is one of the best dance/pop albums, if not one of the best of the nineties. Best illustrated by the song above, the mix of R&B and rap, with a Eutotrash feel.
In revisiting the song to post it here, it came with an interesting and frustrating story.
Black Box was formed by a DJ and radio producer, who hired French model Katrin Quinol to be the face of the band, to appear as the main singer. And it worked. She had the looks, fashion and charisma. Problem was, she was only lip-synching. The band hired R&B legend Martha Wash to sing the vocals on many of their tracks, including “Strike It Up” and “Everybody Everbody” yet never gave her credit or a cut of the prophets. Just add that to the fact that they hired a model to pretend to sing her voice.
The shitty thing is that it happened again to Martha Wash, this time with C & C music factory, in which their female lead lip-synched to her voice, once again a thin, younger woman in “Everybody Dance Now.” Hey, you’ve got a great voice and everything, thanks for making sure this song sounds fantastic. But, we’re gonna use this supermodel in the videos to pretend to have your voice because we would never dare have someone like you appear in our videos.
Martha Wash sued both artists and won some of the profits they were making off of her vocals. Because, let’s face it, especially in the case of Black Box, her vocals were the main appeal of the song. Not to mention Martha Wash is a fucking living legend. This was so insulting on so many levels.
It doesn’t really end there. Black Box also used sampling in their songs, once again to never give credit. They especially liked the song “Love Sensation” by Loleatta Holloway from 1960s.
So much in fact, they they literally constructed the song “Ride on Time”- most commonly known from the practice montage from The Cutting Edge– from parts of “Love Sensation” just in a different order. It’s literally also the same song. AND once again they used Martha Wash on lead vocals (without credit). Some of the samples still had Loleatta Holloway’s original vocals on it, so the original writer of the song ALSO sued Black Box for using his song without permission.
Despite being phenomenal singers, legends of R&B, and overall classy women, both C&C music factory and Black Box couldn’t even fathom using older, larger, black women in their videos or visual elements Sure, Katrin Quinol was pretty fabulous, but it’s just a huge insult to these women.
Even though “Love Sensation” was already hacked apart to make two other Black Box songs, there was still enough of the droppings for Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch to sample the song for “Good Vibrations”- their first (and best) single. Giving credit where it was due, they also had Loleatta Holloway appear in the music video singing her part. She was never in the same scene as Marky Mark and tighty whities, but that was probably her choice.
This video is probably worth a look too, because- how can anyone hate this song and I never realized how racy it is. Marky Mark is straight up going to bonestown with a girl on a bed.
Karma’s a bitch; Black Box’s next few albums were flops.