Back in '95 when everyone else was nursing their En Vogue hangover with TLC's CrazySexyCool, I was OBSESSED with Total. I mean don't get me wrong, TLC was pretty rad, but they had none of Total's authentic bad-girl street sass. Always clad in black leather, thigh-high boots and Versace sunglasses (thanks to superstar nineties hip-hop stylist Misa Hylton-Brim), Total was so achingly chic, the perfect feminine balance to Craig Mack, 112 and Biggie as a part of the original Bad Boy family. I just really wanted to be the fourth member so bad. I creamed over their cameo in Missy's "The Rain" video and again when they popped up in Lil' Kim's video for "Not Tonight (Remix)". The group didn't survive beyond a sophomore album, but I was fortunate enough to have seen them live with Foxy Brown at Cornell in '96. Yep, I literally forced my mom to take her 9 year old son to a Foxy & Total concert. It was nuts.
Anyway, their entire debut album is one of the sexiest streetwise female albums I have ever heard. Puffy's production, built on numerous James Brown, George Clinton and Teddy Pendegrass samples provided a smooth funky bounce, while second-lead singer Pam's androgynous, slightly flat voice grooves around the choruses with ad-libs clearly influenced by Michael Jackson. To this day it is one of the only albums I can listen to straight through to the end.