Yesterday, I asked the wifey to chime in on the next artists to feature for Whatever Happened to… She said, “you should do that R&B group…that had two light-skinned guys…and remade a song…and one of them was sitting in a chair in the video.”
That cryptic description was all I needed:
Never question my encyclopedic knowledge of long-forgotten R&B groups.
Let’s journey back to meet up with the enigmatic Christion.
In the mid-90s, brothers Kenny Ski and Allen Anthony, known as Christion (I can’t figure out how to make the little accent mark over the “o,” sorry) was the first group signed to Roc-A-Fella Records. This was back in Jay-Z’s faux pimp days, and years before he encouraged grown men to flash the Delta sorority sign.
No offense to my Deltas – I fear you more than Jay-Z.
Christion released their amazing first single “Full of Smoke” in 1996, and soon dropped their first album under the Def Jam umbrella. “Full of Smoke” sounds just as good today as it does back then – the spooky, subdued beat and mellow, yet scratchy vocals are all the rage these days. The track was definitely ahead of its time.
Ghetto Cyrano certainly wasn’t a one-song album. Their remake of Rose Royce’s “I Wanna Get Next To You,” in the video above, was the perfect vehicle for Anthony’s harmonies. “Bring Back Your Love” sounded like something from Tony Toni Tone’s playbook, while the remix with Jay-Z borrowed from Zapp’s “Computer Love.” The boys knew how to pay homage to their forefathers, and that helped them create an overlooked gem of an album.
Sadly, that’s the end of the story for the original incarnation of Christion. But individually, the brothers weren’t through.
In 2003, Anthony went solo, maintaining his Roc-A-Fella ties. The inspirational “Alright” lived up to its name – eh, it’s all right. It sounds typical of a track released in ’03, like a retread of Glenn Lewis’ “Don’t You Forget It.” That’s fine for ’03 but it doesn’t age nearly as well as Christion’s older work. “You” also was pretty mediocre.
Meanwhile, Ski found a new partner, T. Ross, and reformed Christion, dropping Project Plato in 2005. Of course, without Anthony the group sounded totally different. “My Reason” is decent, serviceable R&B, but again, it’s nowhere near the excellence of the original group.
Christion The Sequel has been quiet since Project Plato, but last year Anthony released a four song EP – er, actually, two songs and two remixes of the same song. “My Room” would be really good if he didn’t lower himself to the dingy depths of autotune. I can do without “Do 4 U,” and its menagerie of remixes.
Should They Come Back?: According to Anthony’s Facebook page, he’s in the studio working on a project and I haven’t heard anything about Christion Part Deux reuniting. While I won’t lose sleep waiting on those separate comebacks, I think reuniting the original Christion would be a treat. Their ’70s soul act would sound right at home among the current generation of artists. I can picture them assisting Currensy or Wiz Khalifa while simultaneously dominating BET Centric. I’d love for them to renew their legacy and not just be remembered as “those two guys with the chair in the video.”