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Reminiscing on Missy Elliott’s R&B group, Sista

For a lot of fans, their first introduction to Missy Elliott was on the 1996 Bad Boy remix Gina Thompson’s “The Things That You Do” and her memorable rap verse with the “hee hee hee how” line. The next year she would release her debut album, Supa Dupa Fly, and the rest was history. Most fans would also learn that Missy was instrumental in crafting Aaliyah’s 1996 hit album One in a Million, plus was the pen behind hits from Total, MC Lyte, New Edition, 702, and others.

But before all of the hits and solo career, Missy was putting in work under R&B group Jodeci and producer DeVante Swing. DeVante signed her and her group Sista (formerly known as Fayze), along with producer Timbaland, to his label Swing Mob in 1991. The label was also home to Ginuwine, Playa, and Tweet. But Sista, which consisted of Missy, LaShawn Shellman, Radiah Covington, and Chonita Coleman, was the first act signed to the label and for the next year or so while they were developing their sound, Missy was writing and performing on Jodeci records.

Finally, in 1994, Sista debuted with their first single, “Brand New.”

I remember seeing the video, hearing DeVante (I was/am a die-hard Jodeci fan) and realized that Sista was going to be the female Jodeci. Next time I was at the record store, I copped that “Brand New” maxi-single (which featured the song “Sista Bounce” and two remixes from Mr. Dalvin and Timbaland), and I played that thing out, anticipating the album. But the album, 4 All the Sistas Around da World, never came out.

“It was because Jodeci was having that little spat amongst themselves,” group member LaShawn Shellman told “As we were doing our promotional tour, they were doing their tour so when their plans fell through, ours fell through too because we were about to do the Dangerous Minds soundtrack and we had just recorded a song with Craig Mack. It was collaboration with Bad Boy and plans just fell through. Jodeci broke up and the whole camp really broke up.”

I remember during Jodeci’s last tour in 1995, hearing about how DeVante was traveling on a separate bus than the rest of the crew. I predicted they would be breaking up soon. They did, and Sista’s album was shelved. Honestly, I forgot about Sista until Missy turned up a few years later doing her thing on the solo tip. The album was still not available. Then I was spring cleaning and found the original maxi-single CD that I bought in 1994 and decided to see if there was anything online, and lo and behold, someone uploaded the entire album on YouTube.

I still want a better quality version of the album, but this bootleg will do for now.

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