On this day in music history: August 6, 1988 -…

On this day in music history: August 6, 1988 – “Off On Your Own (Girl)” by Al B. Sure! hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #45 on the Hot 100 on September 24, 1988. Written by Al B. Sure! and Kyle West, it is the second chart topper for the singer and songwriter from Mount Vernon, NY. Both novices at songwriting and recording, singer Al B. Sure! and his cousin producer Kyle West initially do not have an easy time coming up with material. Though friends and musical peers that they meet along the way are helpful in guiding the duo in the right direction. One in particular is musician Teddy Riley (Guy, Bobby Brown, Johnny Kemp, Wrecks-N-Effect), who is instrumental in helping West simplify his musical ideas and structure them into coherent songs. Among those is a demo Kyle records at home on a four track machine, adding extra instrumentation by bouncing tracks. Upon hearing it, Riley tells him “You don’t have to do all this… The simpler, the better”. Paring it back, West shows the song to Al who begins writing lyrics to it. Just barely out of high school at the time, the singer looks back on a personal experience when writing. Encountering a very attractive young lady, he does everything he can to get her attention, and she resoundingly ignores him. Frustrated, Sure has no idea why she won’t pay him any mind, in spite of his numerous romantic overtures. Then he finds out that she is a lesbian, and only attracted to other women. Once the lyrics are complete, recording the track is also a struggle when coming up with a suitable arrangement for it. Al and Kyle end up recording three different versions of “Off On Your Own (Girl)”, cutting one with DJ Eddie F. (Heavy D. & The Boyz), and one with Teddy Riley. Finally, the third version they do on their own is the one chosen to be included on “In Effect Mode”. Issued as the follow up to the chart topping “Nite And Day”, it is another immediate R&B smash. Featuring Sure! mimicking rapper Slick Rick in places and including samples of Dana Dane’s song “Nightmares”, the swaggering new jack swing flavored “(Girl)” perfectly bridges the gap between R&B and Hip Hop. The single is backed with a Spanish language version of “Nite And Day” titled “Noche Y Dia”. Interestingly enough, Al won’t have to mimic the famed rapper again, when Slick Rick appears on the album’s final single “If I’m Not Your Lover” (#2 R&B), which is remixed and produced by Teddy Riley. The success of “Off On You Own (Girl)” helps propel Al B. Sure’s debut album to the top of the R&B album chart, unseating George Michael’s “Faith” from the top spot and spending seven weeks at number one.