Adina Howard, who will be 41 years old this year (time flies!), rose to fame during the mid-1990s with her debut album, “Do You Wanna Ride?” which contained the smash single, “Freak Like Me,” that, as I recall (although it’s been a long while – I was in college back then), was quite the *hot* track that just seemed to suddenly materialize out of thin air, with its sexually provocative lyrics (which one could argue were still taboo at the time, when it came to women musicians, especially in R&B and Hip-hop), and a generally aggressive frankness about it that I think caught a few folks by surprise. It was considered groundbreaking in that regard, and helped pave the way for the likes of Foxy Brown and Lil’ Kim, who would come a little later.
While some embraced “Freak Like Me” as a kind of sexual empowerment anthem for women (an equalizer in an industry in which men had long been blatantly sexual with their lyrics), Howard drew lots of criticism from feminists in her day, not just for that specific track, but for the entire album (including the cover art), which included songs like “You Got Me Humpin'” and “Horny For Your Love.”
“Do You Wanna Ride?,” released in 1995, was certified Gold by the RIAA. It wasn’t her only album (she released 5 studio albums in total, between 1995 and 2015), but the work that followed just didn’t draw the same kind of attention that “Do You Wanna Ride?” did.
Howard even did some acting for film and the stage, but nothing particularly memorable.
So what was it really like from her POV, during the course of her decade-long career, and what else has she been up to, since she shook up R&B/Hip-hop with “Do You Wanna Ride?”
Her story has been documented, with Howard’s involvement, in an hour-long film from Rebel Life Media, which the filmmakers sent to me last week, alerting me to the fact that it has been put entirely online for you to watch for free
Here’s their breakdown of the documentary: “In 1995, Adina Howard made waves in the world of music with her hit song ‘Freak Like Me.’ Never before had a solo R&B female artist made such a bold and controlling stance sexually through song. Along with becoming one of the highest selling singles and most played music videos on MTV and BET in 1995, Adina Howard’s performance allowed young women of color and future recording artist to express their sexuality without shame. ‘Adina Howard 20: A Story of Sexual Liberation’ shares Adina’s story through her own words as well as the impact that she made during the 1990s and thereafter, through the thoughts of fellow entertainers, educators, feminists, family and fans. The film gives an intellectual look inside the highs and lows of the life a platinum selling artist, whose work has made a lasting impact despite the polarizing feelings towards her. Adina speaks on her relationship with Tupac Shakur, the banning of her music video from BET, landing a cameo role in the movie “Waiting to Exhale,” her encounter with legendary vocalist Nancy Wilson, working with Hollywood giants Jackie Chan and Jamie Foxx and the sudden halt to her stardom due to her comments about record exec Sylvia Rhone.”
Watch the hour-long doc below; it’s a bit crude, in terms of production values, but it gets the job done, and they are making it available for FREE online: