The one-hit wonder is nothing new and has been a part of entertainment since anyone can remember. While we can point to many instances in history where an artist wound up being a flash-in-the-pan and vanished into obscurity faster than they rose to stardom.
But there's a great case for the '90s being the decade of the one-hit wonder, with a plethora of artists stamping their place into pop culture, but fail to repeat on that initial success. One of these artist was West Coast rapper Skee-Lo, who bumrushed the music scene with an indelible hit in March 1995.
Born and raised in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Skee-Lo moved to California at the age of nine, where we would spend his teenage years and come of age. Getting the rapping bug, Skee-Lo recorded a demo version of his song, "I Wish," in 1993 and it would eventually take him from a relative unknown to one of the hottest rookies in rap.
The song became a mainstay on video countdown shows and served as the title track of his debut album, which was released on June 27, 1995. The success of "I Wish" push the album to Gold status (500,000 copies sold) by the end of November 1995.
Unfortunately, I Wish failed to yield another hit song and Skee-Lo faded away from the spotlight, with sporadic releases such as his 2000 sophomore effort, I Can't Stop, arriving with little fanfare.
Skee-Lo may be remembered by most music fans solely for his hit single, but the actual album was nothing to sneeze at and proves to be a solid long player two decades later. Check out the five songs from Skee-Lo's debut that prove he had much more to offer than just a novelty single.
Skee-Lo turns in a number dedicated to fair-weather friends and opportunists with the mid-tempo offering, "You Ain't Down." Using the first verse to speak on a disloyal homie, Skee-Lo hold no punches, rapping "I don't need your sympathy, your misery is driving me insane / You got your hands out, but I refrain from / Giving you a pound, you bloody hound / You better take heed, too, cause I don't to need you t hang around." He then takes aimed at an old flame named Vanetta, accusing her of playing games with his emotions and turning him into a man scorned. Featuring a sample of the timeless Kool And The Gang hit "Summer Madness," the beat is straight-forward, but effective enough for the So-Cal MC to get his point across, resulting in "You Ain't Down" being one of the better songs on the LP.
Skee-Lo finds himself in the doghouse for his philandering ways on "Come Back to Me." On the song, the California rhymer seeks forgiveness for his shortcomings and does so with with the finesse of a true player. The beat is a hypnotic ditty powered by dusty hand-claps, drums, keys, and a sample of "Impeach The President" by The Honey Drippers. Skee-Lo admits to cheating on his ex with her sister, but is intent on winning her over through a series of phone calls, but ultimately decides to cut his losses. "Come Back To Me" is a humorous and endearing storytelling affair.
Skee-Lo turns in a certifiable banger with the groovy selection, "Never Crossed My Mind." A stark contrast to his hit single, "I Wish," this song is a cautionary tale based around previous encounters that gave the rapper a much-needed reality check. "I used to think I was hard / The kind of kid you don't wanna miss with, I'd fight you and ya' bodyguard," he raps as he recalls his days as a young ruffian in the Crenshaw streets. Elsewhere on the song, he reflects on a close friend's death and talks about ducking scandalous groupies. Containing a sample of Michael Jackson's "The Lady in My Life," the beat is a lively soundscape that immediately gets your head bobbing and tempts you to get into full B-Boy mode at a moments notice.
Listeners are greeted by xylophones and funky synths on "Top Of The Stairs," a standout offering from I Wish that instantly gets your attention from the moment it hits your earholes. Utilizing a sample of "Remind Me" by Patrice Rushen's, Kandor and Skee-Lo hook up a dope track for the rapper to kick his underdog musings over. Spitting "Growing up as a kid, tough skins and afros / Was in South Central, but still, it came natural / It wasn't nobody to watch my back / Didn't wanna be strapped to get jacked," the California rapper revs up the flow while painting an picture of the road to success, in audio form. Reminiscing on his humble beginnings as a fast-food worker and his transition to the good-life, Skee-Lo turns in an impressive tune that gets our approval.
1995 was loaded with radio hits, but few had the impact of Skee-Lo's debut single, "I Wish." Co-produced by Walter "Kandor" Kahn and Skee-Lo, the song was an unexpected success and dominated the music video countdown shows. Peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 Songs chart and earning the rapper a Gold plaque, "I Wish" would be nominated for Best Rap Song at the 1996 Grammy Awards but lost to Coolio's "Gangsta Paradise." A hit among listeners due to Skee-Lo's humorous, albeit relateable, quips, "I Wish" may be viewed as one of the more memorable cases of the one-hit wonder, but has managed to live on through placements in commercials, as well as in various films.