When the original Xscape started touring last year, we were really happy.  They were one of those female groups that always seemed to up the ante on whenever they dropped something new and their three original albums show and incredible amount of escalating growth and maturity for such a short span of time (five years).  The tour with Monica and Tamar Braxton (minus some backstage drama caused by other folks) went over very well and got old and new fans interested in the possibility of new music.  But when Kandi Burruss announced that she had no interest in making new music with the group despite their desire to, we got a little worried.  Some of that fear eased when the first two single, Wifed Up and Dream Killa were released, but Here For It was a just an awful exercise in trend-chasing.  We had no idea what we were going to out of this.

Thankfully, this is almost everything that we could have asked out of this EP.

Honestly, one of the biggest surprises in this is just how little the contributions of Burruss are missed in this set.  Despite what some think of her live vocals, her recorded alto tones where the first thing that attracted many fans to the group when they started out and she played a large part in crafting the group’s debut and and sophomore albums.  It was always thought that the initial low charting of their final album had a lot to do with her very conspicuous absence both in front of the mic and behind the scenes, but time has been kind to that album and it has aged the best out of the discography.  The same can be said for this set.  You initially think that Burruss is needed to make things feel complete, but you realize a few songs in that The Scott Sisters and Harris are doing just fine on their own and there is no hole in the vocals that needs to be made up for.

And the vocals are strong.  Latocha Scott has always had the strongest and most versatile voice among the remaining three and her leads in these songs show that still to be the case.  What really surprised us (even though it shouldn’t) is just how much her sister Tamika has bridged the gap that once existed between them and become a force in her own right.  Tiny Harris now occupies the space as the unique vocal in the group and does it very well, coming in with lighter (but still full) vocal tones and providing a dividing line to keep this from sounding too much a solo outing by one of the Scotts.  The harmonies are full and the ladies take advantage of their mature voices to bring in the right layering to make moments burst out or slide back as the mood dictates.

The lyrics are good as well.  There are moments when they are having fun and sounding like the single women that came up through the nineties and, then, they turn around and hit you with some grown-up knowledge about relationship and valuing yourself.  The two fit surprisingly well together, likely due to the short length of the set and the similarity in the production choices for four of six tracks, and you don’t feel like you’re listening to a random selection of songs.

The only thing that we can say about this that might be seen as a negative is that this is likely not going to bring in a lot of new listeners.  The production choices, while not dated, are very much still centered around a certain amount of classic nineties sounds.  This means that there is a nostalgia element there for old fans, but newer listeners may not find the bops that they seek thanks to a slower meter and more traditional singing styles.  That is not necessarily a problem overall, though, as Here For It shows that these ladies are not able to make a transition to a new style without showing their age.

This is a definite listen for older Xscape fans and newer fans who have an interest in R&B that has its roots in the nineties but does not contain the more cartoony elements of the decade’s style.

Our favorite tracks are Memory Lane and Craving.  The most skippable track is Here For It.