R&B's divas-in-waiting

By Laura Morgan
Updated August 03, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

Given the high marks of recent neo-soul sirens like Jill Scott, Sunshine Anderson, and current chart topper Alicia Keys, labels are falling all over themselves to find the R&B songstress with the best earning potential. Need a little schooling in the class of 2001? Here’s our cheat sheet.

Album: So Blu (Arista) Cliffs Notes: She’s the saucy R&B diva with the swing-laced top 5 single ”Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops).” Extracurricular Activities: Singing backup for Sean ”Puffy” Combs and Faith Evans. Favorite Teachers: Billie Holiday, Sade, and Sting. Female Empowerment Lesson: The ballsy ”Oops” tells a woman scorned to take revenge via a shopping spree on her cheating man’s plastic. Voted: Best Dressed. Most likely to: Wind up with a bad credit report.

Album: How I Do (MCA) Cliffs Notes: This young Philadelphian passed on joining Groove Theory to record her own rock-pop-roots-R&B-acid-jazz solo joint. Extracurricular Activities: Res (pronounced Reese) sang the hook on GZA’s ”Beneath the Surface.” Favorite Teachers: Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Teddy Pendergrass. F.E.L.: Res outlines the pitfalls of doing a drug dealer in ”Ice King.” Voted: Most Versatile. Most likely to: Be mistaken for Lauryn Hill in the class yearbook.

Album: Based on a True Story (Elektra) Cliffs Notes: She’s Missy Elliott’s seriously tattooed 4’11” protegee — and not to be confused with Lil’ Bow Wow, Lil’ Romeo, or Lil’ Zane. Extracurricular Activities: The big female voice on Ja Rule’s smash ”Put It on Me.” Favorite Teachers: Patti LaBelle, Mary J. Blige, Cyndi Lauper! F.E.L.: ”Superwoman Part 2” advises girls to use their brains, not their booties. Voted: Class Rebel. Most likely to: Be a mogul (she writes, arranges, and produces others’ tracks).

Album: Olivia (J) Cliffs Notes: Yes, she’s named after Olivia Newton-John, but her word is a lot dirtier than ”grease,” with lyrics like ”…kiss me below the border while I run the camcorder.” Extracurricular Activities: Currently writing a song for Luther Vandross. Favorite Teachers: Jay-Z, Whitney Houston, Anita Baker, Rakim. F.E.L.: On the searing ”Silly Bitch in Love,” Olivia tells a two-timed woman to wise up. Voted: Class Toughie. Most likely to: Land in detention for talking trash.

Album: Stranger on Earth (Atlantic) Cliffs Notes: Her jazzy soul is as inspired by the Roaring ’20s as by the hip-hop present. Extracurricular Activities: Lina’s toured with Craig David, Joan Osborne, and Guru. Favorite Teachers: Dinah Washington (she covers her tune), Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Erykah Badu. F.E.L.: On ”Step Up,” she displays self-reliance by being unimpressed with a guy’s bank account. Voted: Most Sophisticated. Most likely to: Earn an A in music ed.