Since the late 1970s, Angie Stone has recorded everything from soul to hip hop to dance. Despite her talents, she remains an underrated artist who has never quite managed to score a massive hit. Yet she remains a pioneer of the late 1990s "Neo-Soul" movement and a "singer's singer," well-respected in the R&B industry. One of her best releases, 2001's Mahogany Soul, is a prime example of her songwriting and earthy vocal talents, particularly on "Wish I Didn't Miss You." In addition to being a deeply soulful track, it also demonstrates how samples can be effectively used to create an entirely new song.
Born in Columbia, South Carolina, Stone began singing in the choir of the First Nazareth Baptist Church; her father, a member of a local gospel group, took his daughter to see various artists to help her learn her craft. After high school she scraped together enough money to record demos at a local studio. Her vocal abilities caught the attention of the legendary hip hop label Sugar Hill. In 1979, the rising company signed Stone; it subsequently paired her with two other artists to form the rap trio the Sequence. Songs such as "Funk You Up" eventually led her to session work with other artists such as Lenny Kravitz. Forming the trio Vertical Hold in the early 90s, Stone recorded the new jack swing-tinged 1993 single "Seems You're Just Too Busy"; it has since become an R&B and club classic.
Despite that early success, Stone remained relatively unknown before she finally signed with Arista as a solo artist in 1999. Her solo debut, Black Diamond, became a landmark in Neo-Soul with its mixture of old school samples and harder beats. The lead single "No More Rain (in This Cloud)" builds on the instrumental version of Gladys Knight and the Pips' "Neither One of Us," while "Everyday" bears the markings of her collaborator (and then-boyfriend) D'Angelo. Her followup, 2001's Mahogany Soul, largely continued that sound, particularly with the single "I Wish I Didn't Miss You."
The backing draws from the O'Jays' legendary track "Back Stabbers," and its trembling piano perfectly suits Stone's story of betrayal. As the Latin-influenced percussion and ominous piano enter the picture, Stone uses her lower range to emote. "Same old story back again / She's not a lover, she's just a friend," she snarls. "I'm sick and tired for you to blame on me." Her volume and pitch increase, seemingly communicating her rising anger. "Now you think it's funny / Now you wanna spend money on girls," she sings. "But you forgot when you were down, that I was around." Handclaps signal the chorus, with Stone lamenting the inability to recover from this disastrous affair. "I can't eat, I can't sleep anymore / Waiting for love to walk through the door / I wish I didn't miss you anymore," she cries.
Stone hits her stride during the bridge, when she directly addresses her cheating lover: "One of these days it's gonna happen to you / Missing a love like I'm missing you," she sings, her rapid delivery bordering on jazz. While the song clearly leans on "Back Stabbers," Stone transforms the original into her own sound, her own message. "I Wish I Didn't Miss You" seamlessly fuses organic 70s soul with modern R&B, with Stone contributing her emotional style of vocalization.
Even though she transformed into one of Neo-Soul's stars, Stone has inexplicably never crossed over, unlike other R&B singers such as Mary J. Blige. She continues recording albums, but has never equalled the success of her first two solo releases. A deep dive into her catalog, beginning with "I Wish I Didn't Miss You" and Mahogany Soul, reveals an immensely gifted R&B vocalist who spans other genres and deserves more attention.