Mixtape Monologue Monday – Radio Remix #1 – Timmy T: “One More Try”

Oh, Timmy T. After all that we have been through …

And now for something totally different. About as far removed from the bombast and hair of last week’s post as one could get, really: a one-hit wonder, Timmy T, and his number one charting hit, “One More Try.”

Timmy T(orres) was a self-produced rapper but wanted to get into the dance music scene, so he pressed his own records and convinced some local Fresno DJs to play his first song on the radio. When it reached modest success, he got himself a record deal, recorded “One More Try,” and released it as a single at the end of 1990. The single was his biggest hit, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and number four on the adult contemporary charts.

It’s a sparsely scored song, a perfect representation of the evolution of freestyle at the end of the 80s: Timmy T’s voice is pushed way up in the mix, completely overshadowing any other instrumentation; the synth bass is syncopated against the drum machine, which is a variant on the typical Latin clave rhythm; there’s a subtle countermelody going on in the keyboard part that clearly pulls on Latin music; the whole thing’s in a minor key; and although they never quite happen, your ear sort of expects that at any moment, there will be some kind of brass punctuation. One can very easily hear the elements of freestyle music that were so incredibly influential on Maurice Starr in the Hangin’ Tough years and would also influence the early New Jack Swing sound.

Kind of like the whole Voices that Care thing from a few weeks ago, Timmy T comes across as completely faux-sincere, trying too hard to appear earnest and lovelorn. The requisite spoken ending is a perfect example of ’90s romance turned 2010s cheese. However, that might just be hindsight talking; clearly, the audiences in 1991 (myself included) lapped this business up. I can definitely remember being really overly aware of his super-crisp Ts—I wasn’t yet a singer and had no idea about dental consonants or any such thing, but they just ring out at the end of words, don’t they? Oh, Timmy T, your elocution brings all the girls to the yard … I don’t think I ever watched the video, though, as I am not entirely sure I was aware that Timmy T was of Latino descent at the time. Not that it matters, of course, but it adds context to my more recent understanding of the development of freestyle music in the late 80s.

It doesn’t look like Timmy T has done much since his last album was released over twenty years ago; Wikipedia states that he took a break from the music biz when his son was born, and since then he’s been riding the retro circuit, performing with other freestyle acts from back in the day. Lest you think that is a less than profitable move, I would add that earlier this year, Radio City Music Hall put on its first all-freestyle concert, a one-night only affair. It sold out so quickly and there was such an audience for it that all of the artists affiliated with the event agreed to perform a second show by popular demand. Sounds like Timmy T might be able to give One More Try … uh, one more try …

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Filed under Mixtape Monologues, Radio Remix #1

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