What The ’90s Won’t Do For Love
There was a time… long, long ago… when the color lines were a lot more blurred on urban radio. Artists like Steely Dan, the Doobie Brothers, and others- without necessarily catering to the R&B audience- would still get certain records of theirs played on the primarily “Black” stations. It continued through the ’80s with artists like Madonna, Hall & Oates, George Michael and even ya man Rick Astley getting their music played, sometimes with people not even knowing they were White until seeing them. In the case of Bobby Caldwell‘s “What You Won’t Do For Love”, his label intentionally hid his image in a silhouette, and even the video was kind of a “revelation” of what he really looked like.
This was a bit before my time, but I understand people were surprised to learn that Bobby C was indeed comin’ from the Caucus Mountains. I’ve heard this song hundreds of times throughout my life, and I didn’t even know that myself, until maybe three years ago. “What You Won’t Do…” has been a favorite on the classic R&B stations for the longest, and it was sampled quite a few times during the ’90s, which brings us to today’s entry. Checkitout…
Bobby Caldwell “What You Won’t Do For Love” (1978): Of course, gotta drop the OG first and foremost. Bobby does his blue-eyed soul thing hard, on what has become quite the timeless track from his self-titled album. He had another song or that have been sampled as well, but none got as much run as this one here.
Aaliyah “Age Ain’t Nothin’ But A Number” (1994): As R. Kelly became more adamant in expressing his affinity for
youngins classic soul, he also carried this over to his work with his protege Aaliyah. While this song doesn’t liberally sample from “What You Won’t Do…”, she does refer to a certain piece of the song leading into the chorus. Gotta let you know, she got a thing for you and she can’t let go.
Luniz “Playa Hata” (1995): In addition to the Chuckii Booker-inspired hook, the Luniz followed up “I Got Five On It” with this single. The Caldwell sample is well in place throughout the song, with the original track’s horns being replaced by some more current (for the time) synthy sounds. The “let you know/can’t let go” bridge also makes it onto this one. Personally, I thought this joint shoulda been a hit in its own right, but that’s neither here nor there.
Kool G Rap “Blowin’ Up In The World” (1995): Kool G’s 4,5,6 album from ’95 was truly the last time he got a quality major-label look (that Rawkus shit gets no rap). This one was a track from the album that I always dug, produced by DITC‘s own BuckWild. While G brags about the rags-to-riches progress he’s made in his life, Bobby Caldwell’s silhouette lurks in the background.
Sa-Deuce “Don’t Waste My Time” (1996): Pretty obscure single from an even more obscure girl group from the mid-’90s. Sa-Deuce’s “Don’t Waste My Time” got a lil’ decent airplay for a hot second in early-’96, but that’s where it stopped. Nonetheless, as this Caldwell sample was starting to pop up every few months, this was yet another time in which it was utilized.
2Pac “Do For Love” (1997): And then, we come to the most popular song to use it thus far. ‘Pac wasn’t here to see this one become a hit, but “Do For Love” was one of the singles from the ’97 R U Still Down album. Built mostly around the original song from the main sample to the chorus, ‘Pac’s story of an up-and-down relationship spoke most to the Caldwell version, and became one of the better posthumous tracks to be released from his catalog. Video was kinda cheeseball, but hey, they did it for love.