"God, I ask that you continue to bless me as I
make this journey ... alone." - Intro, Hot
You won't find any marshmallows in this cup of Hot
Coko. Instead Cheryl "Coko" Gamble pours out nothing
but upbeat, soulful grooves in her first solo album.
That's good news for R&B fans that miss the popular,
honey-like sounds of SWV, Sisters with Voices. It was
Coko's smooth, high-pitched lead vocals that brought
the trio to multi-platinum fame with hits like
"Weak", "I'm So Into You", and "Right Here" when they
debuted in 1992 with their first album, It's About
Now it's about Coko. After SWV's quiet, yet rocky
breakup last year, Coko is finally fulfilling a
"I'm so excited," says the 25-year-old songstress who
released her album in August. "It's just me now and I
did all the background and lead vocals. Plus I wrote
some of the songs."
Coko penned five of the eleven songs featured on the
album. These include "You and Me", "Don't Take Your
Love Away", "I Ain't Feelin' You", "All My Lovin'"
and her current hit single, "Sunshine".
"I am really happy about everything on the album,
especially for "Sunshine" since it is for my son,"
Coko says of her special tribute to three-year-old
son, Jazz. "He brings sunshine in my life."
Coko says that working on the album has been a bright
spot in her career despite SWV's break-up.
"There are no bad parts," Coko says of her transition
from group to solo life. "I'm enjoying it and having
a good time."
But an album for Coko had been in the works for some
time. According to an MTV interview, Coko admitted
that she was offered a solo deal while she was with
SWV. But she says that had nothing to do with the
"It wasn't about me doing my own album," Coko says.
"We just weren't getting along."
Coko explains that a lack of unity and friendship
were to blame for the break between the girls who had
known each other since childhood. As success grew for
the group, tensions rose between them.
"No one can continue to work like that because it's
very hard, especially when you're not speaking and
things like that," she says. "We could never get it
together, so we went our separate ways."
Breaking up may have been hard to do. But each member
has managed to pick up the pieces. Tamara "Taj"
Johnson has launched a modeling career while Leanne
"Lelee" Lyons has started her own music management
Chances are the group won't get back together any
time soon although a SWV Greatest Hits album was
released in August after Coko dropped her album. Coko
declined to comment about the SWV album saying that
she had "nothing to do with it". But she says she
would be open to working with the former members in
But for now, Coko is joined up with some of the
hottest artists and producers in the industry.
Her next single, "Triflin'" features Ruff Ryders'
First Lady, Eve. The ladies add to the repertoire of
TLC ("Scrubs"), Destiny's Child ("Bills, Bills,
Bills") and Missy Elliott ("All In My Grill") with
their blazing track and anti-scrubs,
But Coko knows a good man when she sees one... or
hears one for that matter. She didn't waste any time
snagging up labelmate and R&B heartthrob, Tyrese, for
a slow, sultry duet entitled, "If This World Were
Mine", a remake of the original classic by Marvin
Gaye and Tammy Terrell. She also teamed up with
brothers Babyface and Kevon Edmonds, who sang the
background vocals for the ballad, "So Hard to Say
Hot Coko is a delicious blend of smooth, syrupy
ballads and uptempo dance inspirations that showcase
a richer and more mature-sounding Coko. Rodney
Jerkins, the R&B hit-maker behind female sensations
Brandy and Monica ("The Boy Is Mine" ), Whitney
Houston ("It's Not Right, But It's Okay") and
Jennifer Lopez ("If You Had My Love" ), adds spice to
Hot Coko with "Sunshine"--already a Top 20 R&B hit--
and the uniquely synthesized "Don't Take Your Love
Away". Former SWV producer Brian Alexander Morgan
("Weak", "Rain" ) churns out the same successful hit
recipe on "Bigger Than We", "Triflin'" and
"Everytime". Other newcomers to the album include
Michael Powell and Damon Thomas who produced songs
for the legendary Anita Baker.
"There is something for everyone on this album," says
Coko, who adds that listeners will hear more of her
gospel roots in this album.
And Coko says that there is even more to come for her
"When I finish with this one, I'm going to start up
on a second album," she says. "I'm just going to keep