“Don’t Let Go (Love)” by En Vogue (1996)

Have you seen “Set It Off” yet? That’s a gangster-ass movie. Queen Latifah is excellent in it. That was my “holy shit, she can act” moment. I’m going to resist the urge to follow that up with a shady comment, but if you’ve seen the movie, you know where I’m going with this. 

The reason I bring “Set It Off” up is because En Vogue’s “Don’t Let Go (Love)” originated in that movie. I can’t remember specifically, but my brain seems to think that it synced with Queen Latifah’s love scene in the movie. “Don’t Let Go” is certainly sensual enough to fit that bill. It was the only song En Vogue made with Organized Noize (the Atlanta-based production unit most famous for TLC’s “Waterfalls”), and like many of their productions, deftly balances pop-friendliness with a sound that’s retro and avant-garde (at least relative to most ‘90s R&B). I mean, when “Don’t Let Go” came out, Neo-soul hadn’t really gotten big and hearing live drums and rock guitar on an R&B record was rather unusual.

“Don’t Let Go” was En Vogue’s third record to hit #2 on the pop charts, which is only remarkable because they never had a #1. I think the only artist to have more #2 singles without having a chart-topper is Creedence Clearwater Revival. It was held from the top spot by Toni Braxton’s “Un-Break My Heart”, which is an awful, awful, terrible song. “Don’t Let Go” was also the last En Vogue song and video released before Dawn Robinson was like “enough of this bullshit”, left the group, and signed with Dr. Dre. That didn’t exactly work out well for her. Ah, well. At least she split on a high note. Pun semi-intentional.

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