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15 June 1972, Aurora, Chicago, Illinois, USA. One of the few soul singers to gain release on Sean Puffy Combs hip-hop dominated Bad Boy label, Thomas earned critical praise for his adherence to traditional songwriting values. After several years playing low-key bar gigs around Chicago, Thomas joined Bad Boy in 1997 as their in-house backing vocalist, appearing on releases by rap artists such as the Notorious B.I.G. , Black Rob, and Combs himself. He also contributed to albums by other rappers including Noreaga and Raekwon. Emotional, Thomas debut, was released in 2000. This largely self-written album, recorded with a stellar cast of producers including Mario Winans and Heavy D, eschewed samples and beguiled the listener instead with its reliance on melody and classic song structure, a bold move in an era dominated by urban R&B vocalists singing over mechanical beats. The obvious reference points were the classic 70s soul albums of...