If you’re a fan of soul music and you’re not watching TVone’s documentary series “Unsung”, you are missing out big time. The series, which concludes its’ third season this week, spotlights artists with compelling¬† back stories who have not gotten their deserved props from the mainstream. The folks behind this show really do their research-almost every episode has been sit-in-front-of-the-TV-rapt good. They’ve covered everyone from Donny Hathaway and Phyllis Hyman to DeBarge and Stacy Lattisaw, and this season’s final episode looks at the long and storied history of The O’Jays.

Already in preparation for Season 4, the folks at TVone are asking who should be on the next season of Unsung. If you head on over to their site, you can vote on ten artists who just might get profiled in the next season. Just about all the choices they offer should have interesting stories to tell, whether it’s Angela Bofill discussing her time in the Arista Records dungeon or her health issues, Rakim discussing who REALLY produced those Eric B. & Rakim records, or Tevin Campbell maybe finally discussing the solicitation arrest that basically ended his career. There are also still quite a few artists who I think deserve the “Unsung” treatment that haven’t been profiled and also don’t appear on this list. Here are some of the artists that “Unsung” should consider for Season 5.

Teddy Riley/Guy/BLACKstreet- One of the preeminent producers of the past 25 years (and the founder of hip-hop soul) has quite a story to tell. From their shady business dealings with the Suge Knight-like Gene Griffin to Teddy’s working relationship with the King of Pop to the revolving door that was BLACKstreet, I’d say this would be one of the more interesting “Unsung” stories if they can get everyone involved in the saga to participate.

Terence Trent D’Arby-Much like Kanye West, TTD had a bigger mouth and a bigger ego. Much like Kanye West, TTD was and is a genius. Unlike Kanye, however, TTD’s mass recognition begins and ends with his debut, although he’s made four strong efforts in the years since. It would be interesting to discuss whether people think TTD’s mouth killed his career or if it was his ambition and refusal to fall into line with the rest of contemporary R&B.

Millie Jackson- Before there was Lil’ Kim or Foxy Brown, there was Millie Jackson-a singer who gave folks the real deal about relationships in her songs-colorful language and all. Millie’s albums in the late Seventies and early Eighties were huge sellers although she never got a sniff of pop airplay. History has certainly neglected her-I think an “Unsung” episode is owed to her, quite frankly. She practically defines the word.

Vanity 6- Denise Matthews, a biracial Canadian soft-porn star, fell under Prince’s wing in the early Eighties and became the frontwoman for one of the Purple Yoda’s most fondly remembered side projects, Vanity 6. They picked up the baton on frank sexual talk post-Millie and pre-Madonna. Vanity left Prince’s camp in the middle of filming “Purple Rain”, made a couple of solo albums, found modest success as an actress (“Action Jackson”), was dating Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx when he overdosed, and nearly died herself as a complication of years of drug abuse. Now a born-again Christian, Vanity is probably reluctant to discuss her early days, but it would certainly be compelling television! Besides, who wouldn’t want the skinny on what was going down in MPLS back in the day?

The Force MD’s- Staten Island’s Force MDs bridged the gap between hip-hop and R&B before just about anyone else did it. They had the misfortune to be signed to an indie label (Tommy Boy), so they never got the chance to blow up like their contemporaries New Edition, despite scoring a handful of R&B chart hits (they also worked with Jam & Lewis before NE did). Tragedy has beset the band in the years since, with two members having passed away in untimely fashion. Shouldn’t some light be given to just about the only good thing to come out of the 5th borough that’s not Wu-Tang related?

Who else do you think deserves props from the “Unsung” folks? Leave a shout in the comment section and tell us!

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