22 September 2019

"Tell Me Mama" by Tony! Toni! Toné! (1993)

A woke up a few days ago with this track inexplicably playing in my head.  So I was like might as well do some research on it.


Tell Me Mama is derived from Tony! Toni! Toné!'s third album, which was entitled Sons of Soul.  That album went double-platinum, peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 200 and was one of my personal favorites.  I tried listening to it recently, and it has understandably aged.  But if not for its lengthy mid-song dialogue, Tell Me Mama would still be slappin' today.

The cover to Tony! Toni! Toné!'s Sons of Soul.  I never would have noticed
 that pyramid in the upper-right corner back in the day.
Tell Me Mama was released by Mercury Records and Wing Records with the rest of the album on 22 June 1993.  Its concept is quite simple, relaying the feelings of a dude who has f*cked up his relationship with the woman he loves.  He kinda admits that he did so by 'playing the role of a pimp', as in manwhoring.  But still he is apparently unable to ascertain at which point exactly the romance 'went wrong' and thus is left in a state of confusion.  Or more specifically, he is in his feelings and wants homegirl back.  Thus the song concludes with him asserting that 'needs' and 'got to have' her.


Tony! Toni! Toné!'s lead singer was Rapheal Saadiq, who had one of the most-engaging voices of R&B's heyday of the 1990s.  I think it's safe to say that Tell Me Mama is one of his favorites amongst fans.  He also dropped this ill track called Ask of You in 1995 which hopefully I'll get a chance to write about later.

A picture of Tony! Toni! Toné!, a family band, taken in 1988.  In the middle is Raphael Saadiq, and respectively on the left and right are D'wayne Wiggins (his brother) and Timothy Riley (their cousin).
The other Toni! who yaps in the middle of the song is D'wayne Wiggins, who is actually Raphael's big brother and a guitar player in addition to vocalist.  And then we have their cousin, Timothy Riley, holding down the drums and keyboards for the group.

There are three co-writers of this song.  One is the aforementioned Timothy Riley.  The other is is listed as R. Wiggins, which is obviously another name for Raphael Saadiq, whose birth name is actually Charles Ray Wiggins.  And then there's a third writer called Z'Ann, who I can't find any information on.  Meanwhile the entire band is credited with producing the Sons of Soul album.


I've embedded the track below just in case you want to give it a listen.  It'd be cool if I could like put a whole new generation onto a relatively-obscure yet enjoyable track from back in the 90s.