We recently caught up with R&B group Allure for an interview on Instagram Live. During our conversation, we touched on how they got discovered by Poke from the Trackmasters, how they signed to Mariah Carey’s Crave label, working under the legend, memories of creating their first three albums, signing with Ron Artest, plans for new music and a new podcast, and more.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Take us back to the story of how you originally got discovered by Poke of production team The Trackmasters.
Allure (Alia): We were practicing at a community center in The Bronx, we were there every week singing. We had a mutual friend and he knew Poke from The Trackmasters and he brought him down to hear us sing. That’s where it all began.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You eventually were signed to Mariah Carey. Take us back to that.
Allure (Akissa): We were in awe because she was someone who we looked up to musically. We loved her voice and her music. We were literally in the studio finishing up mixes and songs from our self titled album, and somebody told us someone wanted to meet us. She just walked in and we thought it was a prank. Our jaws dropped. She was super sweet, she told us we sounded amazing. That’s how the venture came about between Crave and Trackmasters.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You guys were coming out in the 90’s when we had so many great groups coming out. What do you remember about being a part of that?
Allure (Alia): For us it was amazing. It was so many female groups, and it was female unity and girl power. We had 702, Xscape, Blaque, SWV, En Vogue, all of those people. And we looked up to SWV and En Vogue. We were happy to be a part of that.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Let’s talk about your self titled debut album. Talk about creating that project.
Allure (Lalisha): I think we were just happy and ecstatic to be living out our dreams! We were teenagers. We were in the studios like Chung King and Sony, we were looking at plaques, it was a dream come true. Those moments we will never forget.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Can each of you share your favorite song on the album?
Allure (Alia): For me, I would have to say “The Story” is one of my favorites. It wasn’t a single, but it pushed me vocally to a place I didn’t know I could go. They used to make fun of me and say I sounded old! *Laughs* Shout out to Gordon Chambers, he pushed me in a way I didn’t even think I could do that. I didn’t know my vocals could be that way.
Allure (Akissa): People expect me to say “Mama Said” because it’s about my mother who passed away. But I would say “You’re Gonna Love Me” stood out the most because we’ve all been through a lot in love and relationships and one thing is for sure, you get any of us and you mess up, trust and believe you’re going to come back and miss us! Seriously speaking. It was one of those songs that kind of resonated really loud for me. For myself and my sisters, I just always want us to see us being happy with somebody. It was always one of my favorite songs.
Allure (Lalisha): I would have to say “No Question”! The reason why is because the feature was LL Cool J. We’re from NY, and just the history! People love the song more than we do, but because of the feature I’ll go with that one.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about creating the single “All Cried Out” with 112.
Allure (Alia): That was all Mariah. We were almost done and she told us we needed to do a cover. She said how about “All Cried Out” and she started singing the Full Force part, it was hilarious! We tried to figure out who the males would be. But first we thought of Boyz II Men, but she thought no because she did “One Sweet Day” with them. She suggested 112 from Bad Boy. We thought it might work.
Allure (Akissa): The crazy part is we had already heard the song and then when we finally heard their parts coming back, we thought it was amazing. They were the equivalent of us harmony wise. Vocally, they murdered their part on that song. If you hear the acapella version of the song with just the harmonies, it’s sick. We knew from that moment on it would be perfect.
Allure (Alia): We have to shout out Mariah on the backgrounds. She did do her part, she loved harmonies, she loved to harmonize, and she did put a note in there, but it’s with us as well.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Tell us about “Head Over Heels” with Nas.
Allure (Akissa): That was another one. We always said we were seriously blessed to have so many features on our first album and people took that and perceived that as us having it so easy and not working hard. We did work hard for that. The fact that we had LL, Nas, Raekwon, Mary J. Blige. To have Nas, that was Queens. His voice was so distinct, and even now the dude looks like he’s 17! To have him on a record and be the first single come out, it was exciting and nerve wrecking for us! No pressure!
YouKnowIGotSoul: Many R&B groups from the 90’s are no longer together. You guys are still here and have a bond. Talk about how special that is.
Allure (Lalisha): It’s a blessing. You hear so many stories. We argue, we fuss and cuss each other out, but there is a bond that can’t be broken! It’s just a foundation and we will always figure it out. It’s a blessing that God gave us these unique gifts and none of us can be replaced.
Allure (Alia): That’s why, because everyone knows we were a four member group, even when Linnie decided to leave because she wanted to do her own thing, we did not replace her. You can’t replace any of the original members.
Allure (Akissa): Our story is our story, and we can tell it only how we can tell it. People have this thing where they come at us that we act like the other member never existed. She was in our group, she was a part of our history. We wanted to stick to authenticity as much as possible, if it aint broke don’t fix it, so we stayed with each other and didn’t replace her. When we first separated with her, we went through it, we cried, we thought that was it. After that, they told us why? So we kept the group, there was no reason to stop for us.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What was the story about how you ended up losing your fourth member Linnie Belcher?
Allure (Alia): She wanted to do her own thing and go another route we didn’t want to go. We wanted to concentrate on the music. She had other ideas. We still wanted to be us so we had to keep it going.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Let’s talk about the second album “Sunny Days”. You guys moved labels before that album came out.
Allure (Alia): A lot of people don’t realize when we were signed to Crave, the label didn’t go away because the artists weren’t doing well, we were at the top of the game. “All Cried Out” went to the top of the charts when Mariah’s divorce happened and there was no more Crave. It wasn’t like the label folded because the artists weren’t doing well, it was all around the marriage. We had to find a place to go. We went to Columbia and did three soundtracks there, but it was just so many girl groups. There was no space for us. They had their main group they wanted to make sure made it, and it wasn’t going to work for us. So we signed to MCA through Jeff Redd and came out with “Sunny Days”.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What do you remember most about creating “Sunny Days”.
Allure (Akissa): The twin towers fell down. That album was amazing too because that was our chance to really get involved with the writing. We wrote a lot on that album. We also worked with a lot of amazing people, like Jean and Renee from Zhane. Lil’ Mo wrote for us, Full Force again. It was a really great experience for us, we got more hands on and creative and tapped into a place where we always wanted to be as far as writing. It was a dope experience for us.
Allure (Lalisha): It was just a feel good album. I think that’s why we named it “Sunny Days”. We were out of the dark part. We felt like we were being renewed and given another chance.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Tell us each of your favorite songs from “Sunny Days” as well.
Allure (Lalisha): I’m going to have to go with “Without You”. Jean pushed me vocally! When I say pushed me! I had a headache at the end! It was just so many techniques that you learn when you are put under someone’s wing and they teach you with love. So it was a great experience.
Allure (Alia): I would have to say “Earn My Trust”. At that time I was in a horrid relationship. That dude was a piece of shit! I felt that one in my soul!
Allure (Akissa): For me, it was “The Shore”. I remember writing the lyrics to that. That song to me came from a place that we weren’t really experiencing it per say. But later on, for me to experience it, if you listen to it lyrically, you’ll get it more. You’re just not complete without that person. You see your whole life. There was even a hint of suicide in the lyrics. The lyrical content for me hit later on. When you’re going through life and have your stories of anxiety and depression and this and that, to feel that later on. I love him and he didn’t love me the way I wanted him to. Never again. Life teaches you that you have to be strong willed and needing someone to make you whole.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Let’s talk about the third album “Chapter III” where you linked up with Ron Artest to put this project out. What was that like?
Allure (Alia): People gave us a lot of flack for that, they thought we were desperate. But he was the best boss we could have asked for! He truly believed in us. When people doubted us, he said we were dope and wanted to try to put us out there again. He felt like we had a story and thought we were talented. We did a lot of writing on that album, we were going through it foreal, in every facet of our lives. We really poured our everything into that album. Tru Warrior Records.
Allure (Akissa): He’s honestly and genuinely the sweetest person, and he’s super smart. He’s an awesome businessman. Look at what he’s doing now. He has all of these journey’s that he’s on.
Allure (Lalisha): He’s very deep! Don’t just judge him. He’s a dope person and our best boss ever, hands down.
YouKnowIGotSoul: How hard was it to make the decision to join an NBA player who had no industry experience?
Allure (Alia): Just the vibe we got when we met him. If we feel some type of energy from you, we know it can work. We talked to him for hours and he had a plan and he was figuring it out. He was putting in the money for it, making sure we were ok, we trusted him.
Allure (Akissa): We trusted the process enough to the point we didn’t get it, but I think we totally got it when he went through that whole brawl. People were making him out to be a monster, but he was still letting people know he had this group Allure out. He told us we were his favorites along with SWV. He looked for us! We trusted the process.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Why do you think “Chapter III” didn’t get the attention it deserved?
Allure (Alia): The brawl happened, and people were making a mockery of everything he was trying to do. People were making it seem like he had some stupid album coming out. Our true fans know what it is. When they see us to this day, they ask for songs off that album.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Let’s talk about the memoir Mariah had come out, and there was some drama with you that followed and some misunderstanding. Please take a moment to clarify what happened.
Allure (Lalisha): It’s been over two decades, and it’s like Crave was never mentioned, so we said no problem. So the book came out, and someone sent us an insert which showed the first group signed to her label and it wasn’t us. That’s it, we could care less if she mentioned the label. She hadn’t mentioned us ever!
Allure (Alia): We were fine with that, she was better off not mentioning the label at all. But don’t mention the first group was people that wasn’t us! That’s it. It might not mean anything to anyone else, but for us, that was a big part of our career, to be the first on her label.
Allure (Akissa): The thing that irks me the most, is that fans of hers, you can defend everything someone did because you are a fan of theirs. We would never want our fans to ever be disrespectful or carry on against someone else because you are our fan. That’s not how we do that. We’ve always spoke highly of Mariah for two decades. People think we tried to mock her, we never did. At the end of the day, again, when it’s something that’s directly connected to us and our story, of course we should be able to say how we feel. Everybody else wants to rant and rave about it. We’re human. We just want our story to be told correctly. We don’t disrespect anyone we’ve worked with, but we always feel like it’s done to us for some reason. But it won’t stop us from doing what we love.