Year: 1992
Label: EastWest

En Vogue's 1990 debut Born to Sing introduced Cindy, Dawn, Maxine, and Terry's throwback quartet-style harmonies to the world, but the 1992 follow-up Funky Divas fashioned it into a weapon. Born to Sing's brash hip-hop-centric mood stays, but here it's aided by songwriting that's more assured and empowering. "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)," "Love Don't Love You," and "Give It Up, Turn It Loose" all swat away worthless suitors, and "Free Your Mind" parlays a Funkadelic lyric into a hard rocking strike against racism and misogyny. Funky Divas isn't all warfare; "Desire" pulses with an intoxicating yearning, and "Giving Him Something He Can Feel" reinterprets a tender Curtis Mayfield gem about coupling. The pervasive something-old-something-new vibe peaks later on with a soulful cover of the Beatles' "Yesterday." Funky Divas paved the way for T-Boz, Left Eye, and Chilli's international takeover a few years on, and you can see more than a little of its spirit in the work of Destiny's Child too. —Craig Jenkins