The female hip-hop trio Total -- Kima, Pam and Keisha -- perform a unique variety of urban music they call "New Jill Flava," emotional harmonies sung over funky, bass-heavy music.
Often described as a female Jodeci, Total was discovered by Sybil Pennix, who also worked with Mary J. Blige. Their big break came when they sang backup for Notorious B.I.G. on his hits "One More Chance" and "Juicy." Total's self-titled debut album was released on Bad Boy/Arista in 1996.
Two years later, the trio followed up with Kima, Keisha and Pam, also released on Bad Boy. The album was produced by Puff Daddy and features six tracks penned by Missy Elliott.
Total describes the sum of three distinct personalities, attitudes and vocal styles. Pam, Kima, Keisha are three fiercely independent young women who together, form the femme fatale group Total. The talented trio was discovered by hip-hop's super-producer Sean "Puffy" Combs three years ago and they have been busy making a name for themselves ever since.
In an industry cluttered with female groups and failed debuts, these three girls from New Jersey have risen to the forefront to claim their spot on the charts. Total took the music scene by storm with their Gold smash hit, "Can't You See" featured on the New Jersey Drive motion picture soundtrack; a national tour with Jodeci, Mary J. Blige and The Bad Boy Family; singing back-up vocals for two tracks on Notorious B.I.G.'s double platinum-certified album, Ready to Die; and a cameo appearance in Eric Sermon's video "Hit and Switches," have all fueled their eagerly anticipated self-titled debut album.
The pressure was on for Total to follow up with their gold-selling single with a slammin' album. "We were taking our time, making sure everything was right and that we were satisfied," says Keisha. "It is worth the wait." Working with producers such as Raphael Saadiq (of Tone Toni Tony fame)", Jean-Claude "Poke" Olivier, Herb Middleton and Sean "Puffy" Combs, Total clearly put to rest any notion that they are one hit wonders. Actor Omar Epps (star of Juice and Higher Learning) takes a break from the big screen to produce the song "Tell Me," a tune particularly special to the group since Keisha and Epps are best friends.
"When you hear our music, you can't help but feel the attitude within us. In a word, it is soulfulhiphopghettofunk," explains Pam. Describing their approach to music Keisha adds, "Our attitude and music are a combination of all our life experiences- both the good ones and the bad ones." It is apparent that the three share a strong sisterly bond. Keisha and Kima have known each other since the ninth grade. Keisha finally persuaded Kima, who was on her way to cosmetology school, to join her in pursuing music as a career. The two met Pam and the blend was pure magic.
While the CD is mostly on a mid-tempo vibe, the chemistry between these three ladies can be felt in each note they deliver, something Puffy noticed right away when they first sang for him three years ago. "After we sang for him, he acted like he didn't even like us, then he called to say he wanted to sign us," says Pam.
The group didn't get their chance until two years later after Puffy left Uptown Records and launched his own label Bad Boy Entertainment. "I am glad everything took a long time because it gave us time to grow and get to learn the business," says Kima.
"Total is really made up of three lead singers, and each one can hold her own," says Combs. "They have an incredible rapport with each other in the studio which comes across in their music. As far as their image, Total reintroduces the notion of bad girls who don't have to solely rely on sensual appeal to get a point across.
Total says thus far they have learned a great deal and plan to get involved in different aspects of the entertainment industry. Keisha says hopefully, "We want to start our own label, management and production company and I definitely want to get into acting."
The Bad Girls of Bad Boy have already shown that they can get you on your feet. Their mission is now to keep you there.