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formed: 1990, college park, georgia; disbanded 1998

members: kandi burruss (born atlanta, georgia, 17 may 1976); tameka cottle (born atlanta, georgia, 14 july 1975); latocha scott (born atlanta, georgia, 2 october 1973); tamika scott (born 19 november 1974).

genre: r&b

best-selling album since 1990: hummin' comin' at 'cha (1993)

hit songs since 1990: "just kickin' it," "understanding," "who can i run to?"

Afemale vocal group whose tight, aggressive harmonies pointed to the influence of gospel music, Xscape was a consistent presence on R&B charts of the 1990s, exploring sexuality while avoiding the more explicit stance of contemporaneous groups such as TLC. Like En Vogue and, later, Destiny's Child, Xscape was part of a wave of 1990s groups whose records embodied female confidence and assurance. On songs such as "Just Kickin' It" and "My Little Secret," the group projected a relaxed, if unsentimental, stance on the dynamics of male-female relationships. Although the group's chart success continued through its third album in 1998, Xscape decided to unofficially disband that year, giving each member time to work on solo projects.

Xscape formed through the influence of sisters LaTocha "Juicy" and Tamika "Meatball" Scott, whose father, the Rev. Randolf Scott, groomed them as professional gospel singers from an early age. Attending Tri-City High School in the Atlanta suburb of College Park, Georgia, the sisters joined forces with classmates Kandi Burruss and Tameka "Tiny" Cottle and began performing together as a quartet. Xscape's big break occurred in 1991, after performing at a birthday party for young R&B producer Jermaine Dupri. Dupri quickly signed the group to his So So Def label, overseeing production duties on its first album, Hummin' Comin' at 'Cha (1993). A sturdy collection of tough, hip-hop-inspired beats embellished by the women's gospel-infused vocals, the album scored high on the R&B charts on the basis of the seductive hit, "Just Kickin' It." While "Just Kickin' It" helped establish Xscape's hard-edged persona, the group revealed an appealing softer side on the album's second hit, "Understanding." A gentle ballad built around a slow beat and gospel-tinged organ, "Understanding" finds the singers harmonizing and trading lead vocals with an assured sense of collaboration.

In 1995 the group released Off the Hook, a follow-up album that bears a distinct stylistic resemblance to its predecessor. While "Feels So Good" recalls the seductive groove of "Just Kickin' It," "Who Can I Run To?" is a slick ballad energized by the women's smooth, forceful vocals. The group's third album, Traces of My Lipstick (1998), maintains its successful R&B formula on the hit "My Little Secret," while incorporating a lush pop feel with ballads such as "The Arms of the One Who Loves You." Penned by top 1990s songwriter Dianne Warren, the latter song had rich orchestration and a distinctive melody that helped give the group its last R&B and pop hit. Riding the crest of its popularity, Xscape dissolved at the end of 1998, its members going on to pursue various solo projects. Burruss became one of the most successful R&B songwriters of the late 1990s and early 2000s, penning assertive hits such as "No Scrubs" for TLC, while Tamika Scott, for many years an ordained minister, recorded her first gospel album.

Xscape brought an appealing combination of seductiveness and sass to 1990s R&B. The group's strong gospel background lent its vocals an impassioned feel, while the ongoing influence of producer Jermaine Dupri ensured a steady, engaging groove on three highly successful albums.


Hummin' Comin' at 'Cha (So So Def/Columbia, 1993); Off the Hook (So So Def/Columbia, 1995); Traces of My Lipstick (So So Def/Columbia, 1998).

david freeland