30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 28: SWV 'When U Cry'

Illustration for article titled 30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 28: SWV When U Cry
Photo: RCA

I’m a well documented SWV fan. But since I’m feeling generous, allow me to document this again. From a piece I wrote called “An Ode to SWV” in February of 2016:

I love SWV.

Since 1992, they have been my favorite girl group. For me, all of their songs seem rooted in fun and good energy. While Mary J. Blige has used her music to showcase her struggles, I have no clue what struggles SWV are going through via their music. And that’s OK for me. When I need to feel better, I listen to SWV. It’s been that way since the ’90s, and it’s that way in 2016. When I think of the ’90s, they are one of the first groups I think of because their early sound was so representative of what we think of when talking about the decade that moved the needle when it comes to black culture and influence.

I’m glad that some 24 years later, Coko, Taj and Lelee are still making music and living their lives. I watched their show on WEtv sporadically; all I wanted to know was that they were still singing. I’ve seen them live in recent years, and that also made me a happy camper.

I don’t feel that SWV gets all the credit they deserve for making such great music, but the truth is, they may have mattered so much more to me that I feel as if everybody should recognize and respect everything they’ve done. I’d love for their latest album to go diamond, just because I love them that much.

But no matter what, SWV will long be one of my absolute favorite groups. I’ll “still” be “right here.”


I felt that way three years ago and I still feel it with my whole heart in 2019. There’s no way I could highlight my favorites in black music and not mention SWV somewhere. So today, it brings me much delight to share with you one of my absolute favorite SWV songs of forever-ever: “When U Cry,” from their 1997 album, Release Some Tension. It was far from their favorite project and would lead to their eventual 15-year hiatus between albums. Based on their Unsung episode, it turns out they hated the feature-heavy, hip-hop feel of the album (8 of the album’s 12 songs feature rappers) and had some creative differences amongst the group. But there are some gems on this album. It features the hits “Rain,” “Somebody,” “Can We” and “Lose My Cool,” but the true gem is “When U Cry.”

SWV “When U Cry” (1997)

Over what is basically a loop of a portion of the Tyrone Davis song “In The Mood,” (the same sample used for MC Eiht’s “All For The Money”), Coko, Taj and Lelee do what they do best: Sound awesome. Their harmonies are the stuff of legend (fight me, bro) and Coko’s voice is damn near perfection. No lie, there was a time when I listened to this song on repeat for hours on end, for days in a row. It’s that real to me.


SWV can do no wrong in my book. I listen to all of their releases still, which is a pun because their last album is called Still. And I will do so if they release any new material. SWV never makes me cry, because if they did, I’d just die. Do you see what I did there? You do?

I’ll see myself out.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.

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I didn’t know about the drama behind the project. That said, knowing their background and how the album sounded, it makes sense. They mailed that album in, and it showed.

Besides, MC Eiht did a better job with that sample.  Fight me bro.