When I heard that SWV was going to be the focus of the season premiere of TV One’s hit documentary series Unsung, I was highly thrilled. Not only is SWV one of the biggest R&B groups in history, selling triple platinum albums across the world. Each member possesses a “keeping it real” personality…so I knew that this episode was going to be HOT!
With two seasons of a hit reality show under their belt, much about the group’s back story has already been told. SWV has always been very open in interviews about the trials and tribulations that the group has experienced. With that, I’m sure that TV One had to work into over time to gather information that was not already public knowledge. For example, we all know that the girls do not get along. Or to put more frankly, they never get along. They do not shy away from this topic at all. However, I believe that this type of honesty is what makes SWV so lovable. They are truly regular down to earth women with humble beginnings.
SWV Unsung premiered on January 4, 2016 on TV One and for the most part I must say that I was pleased. We were able to relive some of the great hits that SWV released. We were instantly reminded of songs such as “Right Here”, “Anything” and the chart topper “Weak”. Nostalgia of the early 90s when the fusion of Hip Hop and R&B mixed together perfectly. We were able to see moments of the ladies visiting their old neighborhoods as they talked and shared laughs recounting the early years. However, as we know with Unsung, the laughs will always end abruptly.
There were a few moments that stood out to me. To learn that Coko’s mother made management construct a contract giving Coko the advantage of earning more money than her group members. Even more surprising, LeLee and Taj gave their blessings to this contract. It was stated that with Coko being the lead singer, producers would usually use her to record background vocals with out the other girls present. Making Coko’s voice even more prominent in recordings. Even with this practice, LeLee felt that it made sense to use Coko for background vocals because it was quicker and easier. If the other girls weren’t there, why waste time scheduling a time for them to record?
I must say, Lelee’s honesty and transparency throughout the special was very refreshing. After SWV broke up, the girls were forced to return to normalcy and take on everyday jobs. Taj took a job at a coffee shop earning $9 an hour, Coko pursued a solo career (That was not successful) and LeLee who after was down to her last couple hundred dollars, contemplated suicide. It was her sister that was able to convince her to not go through with it. Even though it was not discussed, SWV must had signed faulty contracts for them to fall on hard times so quickly.
We also learned that SWV’s “Release Some Tension” album was not their favorite. LeLee stating that she only liked one song from that album, “Rain” and Coko explaining that she refused to sing on one of the tracks. The girls all shared a mutual feeling regarding their WE TV hit reality show. They wished they wouldn’t have done it.
My only criticism is that the special seemed to be rushed. I would have loved to hear more about the creations of their albums, videos and tours. Something that music fans would have liked to see more of rather than the “fall” of the group.