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Still hood 

Xscape's LaTocha Scott goes on a Solo Flight

Xscape is legendary among R&B fans, particularly in Atlanta. To this day, they remain the only female R&B group Jermaine Dupri's So So Def label has released. The four Atlanta ladies always had a different vibe. On their first hit, "Just Kickin' It," every black girl in the 'hood related to the laid-back appeal of LaTocha Scott, her sister Tamika and friends Kandi Burruss and Tameka "Tiny" Cottle. With lyrics like, "Every man wants a woman/Where him and her can just go hang/Just the two of them alone, kick back/Doing their own thing," they stole the hearts of men and women alike.

Today, five years since the group's last album, Traces of My Lipstick, there are still people fiending for new Xscape material. That's coming, according to group members. In the meantime, Scott's most notable recording appearance was on Trick Daddy's hit "Thug Holiday," which she co-wrote. Scott's chorus came right in time to reflect current events: "Just like the soldiers, that ain't coming home this year/Just like the fellas in prison, we miss you so much for real/What about the children, who ran away, that ain't coming home today/Well here's a message from coast to coast/'Cause when them thugs really need it the most, a thug holiday." With a war and battles still waging in the streets here, the track resonated throughout urban America.

The same street tension continues on Scott's just released solo debut, Solo Flight 404. On the single, "Still Ghetto," Scott's voice -- reminiscent of a young Patti LaBelle -- just overwhelms the music.

"I got to keep it street. I got to keep it 'hood, because that's a part of me. I can't run from it," says Scott. "A lot of times you can go pop and what you're doing, that's not you. And I don't want to be one of those artists singing about what someone else wants me to sing about, what somebody else is going through. I wasn't raised in the suburbs. I was raised in College Park. And it's important for me to just stay real."

The decision to release Solo Flight 404 on the independent Raw Deal Records, Scott says, has to do with maintaining creative control. "There were many offers on the table, but it just wasn't to my satisfaction," Scott says. "With an independent, I was able to be a partner more so than an employee. I could be more creative and I had a voice."

Still, after all this time away, Scott is sometimes surprised to find how much fans remember her. Of performing her largest ever solo show in Centennial Olympic Park this past August, Scott says, "It was unbelievable. I couldn't see the grass. I saw all the people. They had their lawn chairs out. There were so many people in the park for me."

But Scott knows that solo or not, she'll always be seen as Xscape's frontwoman -- she named the group, and as its oldest member, she was known as "Mama." It was even Scott who fought with Jermaine Dupri to do a cover of the Jones Girls' "Who Can I Run To?" Despite Dupri's skepticism, it became one of the group's biggest hits. Mindful of Xscape's legacy, Scott says, "Our voices just had an effect on people. I still have Xscape fans, so I got to make sure that I do good by them."

Besides that, she says, "I'm still LaTocha Scott from College Park, eating fish and grits."

music@creativeloafing.com

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