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Lisa Lisa & the Cult Jam

“Can you feel the beat within my heart?
Can’t you see my love shine through the dark?”

Lisa Lisa – the New York-bred boriqua so nice, they named her twice. I heard once that she graduated from the same high school as Lauren Bacall. One alma mater, two showbiz icons: from Betty Perske to Lisa Velez, a tradition of beautiful broads who are pretty sure they don’t need you.

Don’t get me wrong – Lisa Lisa isn’t made of stone. Though she may be best known for the bouncy, Latin-y beats of “Head to Toe” and “Lost in Emotion,” LL also gives voice to the deep shit that homegirls suffer at the hands of trifling men. Don’t know whether the decision to lighten up was due to a change for the better in Lisa’s life or just the friendly suggestion of a record exec, but something was definitely lost when the extremes of “All Cried Out” (“Apology not accepted, add me to the broken hearts you’ve collected!”) gave way to “Que sera que sera!” If the above lyric from “Can You Feel the Beat” – sung in LL’s lowest register, with big, fat beats pounding away beneath it – doesn’t give you a dance-floor shiver…well, I don’t know what to say to you.

Like Miss Jackson, Lisa’s not a prude – she just wants some respect. In the same musical moment that saw Salt-n-Pepa inviting – nay, commanding – the guys to “Push It,” LL is telling them to hold up: “I wonder if I take you home/Would you still be in love baby?” S-n-P may have made more money (and ended up on their own VH-1 reality show 20 years later), but it’s Lisa Lisa’s music I’ll be putting on a Sweet Sixteen birthday mix for my future daughter.