When Xscape came out, they were southern bells on a tomboy tip. It was 1993, and after a year of making their promo rounds across the US, the group – comprised of Kandi Burruss, Tameka "Tiny" Cottle, LaTocha Scott, Tamika Scott - had released the lead single “Just Kickin’ It” off their debut album, Hummin' Comin' at 'Cha.
The song, written by Jermaine Dupri and Manuel Seal had Kandi, the group’s lead vocalist, spit the opening verse “Everyone man wants a woman” which painted the picture of an around-the-way girl who was a homie, lover, friend, wifey— everything and then some. But Dupri’s focus was the group’s vibe, “With Xscape, I just wanted to come out with a four-piece group that was singing over hip-hop beats,” Dupri said in a rare 1993 interview. “Xscape is just a hip-hop version of En Vogue; 'Just Kickin’ It' went number one on the R&B charts. It’s been out for five weeks, and they’re the first group on my label. So, me to have a first group to go number one in five weeks, I can’t be more than happy for that.”
The single entered the Billboard 100 at No. 90 and made a trajectory to the top at lightning speed. Within four weeks, the song made it to number one on the R&B charts and would go on to peak at No. 2 on the Billboard 100. “We were very naïve when we came into the game. It was crazy because I remember when 'Just Kickin' It' was on the radio and we were screaming in the car,” LaTocha Scott told the Atlanta's Creative Loafing. “It wasn't even like a month later and we were called to be on 'The Arsenio Hall Show.' Things kinda took off for us and then Jermaine sat us down and was like, 'Y'all went Platinum.' We didn't know what Platinum was. We were like, 'OK, is that good?' he was like, 'Y'all sold a million records!'"
"Just Kickin’ It"’s music video, directed by Jeff Byrd had the girls breaking out envious dance moves, which decked out in oversized clothing and bandanas — and handcuffs! And they were hard at work, turning an abandoned pool hall into Atlanta’s hot spots for teens to show up and turn up, which, in a way, mirrors how Dupri met the girls. “I met Xscape through a guy named Ian Burke. He came over to my house for my 19th birthday party and brought them along. Ian Burke is like the guru behind that whole Atlanta music scene,” Dupri told Creative Loafing. “ From that point, it was like, what's next? What's the next thing to do? ['Just Kickin' It'] was just my vision of what I felt like the girls should be singing."
Dupri went on to elaborate in an interview with Complex. "I wanted a record that actually was a hybrid between hip-hop and R&B, so I wanted the hook to say something that was hip-hop but I wanted it to be a song. The hip-hop people would not ignore it—because at this time, when I made this record, hip-hop and R&B wasn't living together the way they do now. It wasn't the normal thing to have rappers on R&B music. So, it's like the first time I thought, without putting a rapper on the song, let's just make a song that infuses both of those things.”
Mary J Blige and S.W.V were from New York City — the home of hip-hop — and that was an advantage, also both acts were in the same lane as Xscape, musically, but the latter was from the deep south, what they brought wasn't the norm for mainstream female acts from that region at the time. “When we met Jermaine, we were real street. We were from College Park; Kandi Burruss was from East Point. But all of us had this street edge to us,” Scott told Creative Loafing. “[Jermaine] would always say, 'You guys are so ghetto.' He was like, 'Y'all can sing, y'all like the ghetto En Vogue.' We were kinda like, 'OK, ghetto En Vogue? Cool.' We were also compared to Jodeci cause we had the rugged look. We kinda just brought who we were to the table and Jermaine added that hip-hop flavor to the music. It was just a good mesh.” Xscape made history for being exactly who they were: themselves.