Maybe it was their B-girl style, the way they were pretty brown girls with sass and charm. Maybe it was their dance moves, their fly hairstyles, and of course, Coko’s nails. Maybe it was the music, the way their albums seemed to have songs that fit every mood and every lovelorn circumstance. Maybe it was all of these things that made SWV one of the biggest R&B groups of the '90s, with hit record after hit record. That is, until the end of that decade, when the group disbanded and the music stopped.
The timelessness of SWV’s music is evidenced when you enter “SWV Weak” into the search bar on YouTube, and you will find thousands of videos of people singing the classic into their web cams. “Weak," which landed at #1 on the R&B and Pop charts, debuted in 1992 on It’s About Time, an album which spawned four hit singles. SWV went on to become one of the best-selling groups of the '90s, an era where groups reigned supreme, and the "Sisters With Voices" became the prototype for girl groups for years to come.
And now, SWV is reuniting with a new single and a new album, I Missed Us, due out in April. The single, “Co-Sign,” produced by Lamb, is classic SWV, an uptempo love song that will appeal to both their more seasoned fans and the younger ones alike. The ladies and their new imprints, Mass Appeal Entertainment and E1 Music, invited AllHipHop.com to the video shoot for “Co-Sign,” which was filmed at Akon’s house in Atlanta and directed by famed photographer, Derek Blanks. If the single is any indication, the return of SWV will prove to be worth the wait:
AllHipHop.com: The single, "Co-Sign", it’s a beautiful love song, classic SWV. Tell me a little bit more about the creative process around the creation of the song.
Coko: The first time we heard it, we just knew it was classic SWV. We didn’t want to stray too far from our sound. We knew exactly what we wanted, we told him, and he came with it…we couldn’t deny it.
AllHipHop.com: Considering that you ladies were '90s legends, how do you think that’s going to translate to a new audience, while still allowing you to keep the integrity of your fanbase?
Coko: Surprisingly, it’s going well. I think a lot of people slept on us and didn’t expect it to go as well as it’s going now. We are just expecting greater things to happen. We’re excited, we think the young and the old are gonna like it.
AllHipHop.com: The music industry has shied away from girl groups for a long time. Why do you think that is, and do you think your return is going to signal the beginning of another era?
Coko: I don’t know why that is, but in music, everything goes away and it comes back. But I think now that they see us, there are going to be a lot more girl groups. We’ve even talked about starting our own “baby” girl group. You are going to see a lot more girls coming out.
AllHipHop.com: How and why does your music, music that you made 20 years ago, how and why does it last so long?
Lelee: You know what, it is so funny, but I really think it is because when we first came out, we wanted to sound like young people, and we wanted to look like the young girls around our way, from the Bronx and Brooklyn, New York. We wanted the music to reflect that. I think that the music is just timeless music, our music is not scary, it’s not dark. Whatever mood you are in that day, you can always find an SWV song to fit it. You can be happy, you can be in love, you could be talking to somebody’s husband [laughter]. It’s not necessarily our story, but it’s somebody’s story.
AllHipHop.com: Do you guys feel the pressure? Having done the mommy thing? The wife thing? And now you are a little older, do you feel the pressure to appeal to a younger audience?
Lelee: The pressure is not the music, because we pretty much live the music - that’s all we know. But the pressure comes, because the times are different now. The blogs are just looking for something to say bad about you, so I think it’s different in that sense that you are much more visible, in a good way and in a bad way. You gotta just take the good with the bad, and just put out great music. We don’t wanna be video vixens, we don’t want you to look at us and think sex. We want you to love us for our music and what we contribute to music.
SWV's I Missed Us is due out in April.