Whatever Happened to: Total

Last Tuesday, Diddy’s long-delayed album, Last Train To Paris, was released.


Nope, I ain’t reviewing it. I’m not that desperate for content. The most intriguing thing about the album is that it’s billed as Diddy Dirty Money, which is just a fancy name for Puffy and the scraps of his former girl group Danity Kane.

Puffy has had his share of failed female acts, but my favorite group was Total. Let’s reminisce about the group named after a bowl of cereal.

We were first introduced to Kima Raynor, Keisha Spivey and Pam Long in 1995 via the New Jersey Drive Soundtrack, with their hit “Can’t You See.” Their vocals were always, ahem, questionable (although they sound magnificent by today’s standards) but nonetheless the song helped fuel Bad Boy’s hot streak – back then, anything Puff touch turned to gold, or platinum. The Notorious B.I.G.’s infamously quotable rap made the song even more memorable: “My rap rhymes is like land mines/one step, kaboom, black suits fill the room.”

I know I say this at least once a week, but I MISS BIGGIE.

The girls’ platinum self-titled debut was released early the next year. Remember the Columbia House Music Club that sold you about 15 CDs for a penny each? I got this album for a penny, and it was worth every (1) cent. Boy, did that album spawn some great singles – “Kissin’ You” and its remix, “No One Else” and its remix, and “Do You Think About Us,” which, um, didn’t have a remix that I recall.

Oh wait, here it is!

If you didn’t click at least one of those links, you were probably born after 1999.

Total struck gold the next year with their single “What About Us” from the Soul Food Soundtrack. It featured my hometown peeps Missy Elliott and Timbaland, who at the time were blazing hot. Total certainly knew how to ride the coattails of the hottest producers.

Not skipping a beat, Total’s sophomore album Kima, Keisha, and Pam landed the following year, 1998. By ’98, the Bad Boy gravy train was beginning to run out of steam and this album was the first casualty. Don’t get me wrong, the set was decent and went gold, but it was hurt by the lack of a strong single. I was a fan of both “Trippin'” and “Sittin’ Home,” but neither took off like their earlier work.

By 2000, like most of Bad Boy’s early acts, Total had totally vanished. Keisha married actor Omar Epps a few years back and I haven’t a clue what Pam and Kima are doing these days. Even Kima’s sister, Vida – the scrawny female rapper who hung out with Ja Rule back in the day – is in hiding.

Should They Come Back?: If Wikipedia is to be believed (I know, I know) the group has no interest in reforming. That might be for the best. What Total lacked in vocal power they made up for it in spades by getting cozy with the hottest producers of the moment. I doubt Kanye West or that guy 40 who does all those sad Drake songs would be interested in resurrecting their careers.

Whatever they do, they should stay FAR AWAY from Puffy. He’ll turn your career into a bad night of drinking – it’s a big ol’ party till you wake up in the gutter.


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