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Don't Let Go (Love) from the Set It Off Soundtrack

Updated on November 20, 2015
Don't Let Go was originally recorded for the Set It Off Soundtrack.
Don't Let Go was originally recorded for the Set It Off Soundtrack.

Don't Let Go (Love) was released as a single on October 22, 1996

My song of the day is Don’t Let Go (Love) by En Vogue. Don’t Let Go (Love) is a R&B single that was released in late 1996. It was recorded for the soundtrack to the movie Set It Off. Set It Off was a commercial and critical success at the box office. The soundtrack achieved the same success on the music charts.

I think it’s extremely well written and En Vogue just makes the words jump off the page and spring to life with their powerful vocals.

It’s a love song about two friends with one having stronger feelings than the other. The song is acting as a love letter of pouring out emotion and want of being more than just friends.

That's a pretty big risk. People will always respond with I'd rather know than not know. Or life is for the adventurous. You risk losing a special friendship. Sometimes you need them more than you realize. It can be magical when both people feel the same way. It is utterly humiliating for some when the feelings aren't returned. Many people dust of the rejection and manage to stay friends, but the friendship is awkward at best and rarely reaches what it once was. To quote Jerry Seinfeld "That's a pretty big matzo ball hanging out there.", when George wanted to tell his girlfriend he loved her.

I like to listen to this song and imagine that Dawn Robinson is singing to me. I mean, that's what fans do. Am I right? The fanatical nature of our worship, let's us suspend our belief, while listening to a song we love. Let the music take you into an alternate reality where you are more important than you really are. Anyone? Anyone? Is it just me? Why Dawn Robinson you ask? You didn't, but I'll pretend you did. You guessed it. She's my favorite member of the group.

Let's take a look at the lyrics shall we. The song opens with "What's it gonna be 'cause I can't pretend/ Don't you want to be more than friends"--Direct and to the point, I like it! "Hold me tight and don't let go, don't let go/ Have the right to loose control, don't let go"--It goes from tender, emotional and yet saucy back to tender.

"I often tell myself that we could be more than just friends"--Her needs. "I know you think that if we move too soon it all end"--My needs. "I live in misery when you're not around"--I'm flattered by her unbridled passion for my presence. "And I won't be satisfied till we're taking those vows."--Whoa, whoa, that's a little forward. Someone's jumping the gun there. I mean she could be talking about a vow of love, but that is a trigger word for commitment-phobes.






In 1990, En Vogue released their debut album Born to Sing which featured the soulful and sexy single Hold On.
In 1990, En Vogue released their debut album Born to Sing which featured the soulful and sexy single Hold On.

En Vogue's Origin

En Vogue is an R&B singing group that formed in 1989 in Oakland California. There are four members in the original version of the group. The original members were Dawn Robinson, Cindy Herron, Terry Ellis and Rhona Bennett. Their first single Hold On, shot up the charts to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Hold On was featured on their debut album Born To Sing which was certified platinum. They followed that with a 5X platinum second album titled Funky Divas.


In 1992, En Vogue released their 2nd album Funky Divas.  Funky Divas took the group to a higher level with a more polished and commercially pleasing sound.
In 1992, En Vogue released their 2nd album Funky Divas. Funky Divas took the group to a higher level with a more polished and commercially pleasing sound.
Runaway Love was an EP released after the success of Funky Divas.  It was used to build on their momentum while buying them time to work on various side projects.
Runaway Love was an EP released after the success of Funky Divas. It was used to build on their momentum while buying them time to work on various side projects.
En Vogue sang the chorus to the theme song of the 1st season of Hangin' with Mr. Cooper.
En Vogue sang the chorus to the theme song of the 1st season of Hangin' with Mr. Cooper.
En Vogue performed the theme song called Live Your Life Today for the comedy series Roc.  Their theme song ran from Season 2 to Season 3.
En Vogue performed the theme song called Live Your Life Today for the comedy series Roc. Their theme song ran from Season 2 to Season 3.
Terry Ellis was the 1st member of En Vogue to record a solo album.  It lacked the mainstream and commercial success of En Vogue.
Terry Ellis was the 1st member of En Vogue to record a solo album. It lacked the mainstream and commercial success of En Vogue.

Side Projects

En Vogue was featured on Salt-n-Pepa's hit song Whatta Man in 1993. The song was a huge hit that peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.

After the success of Funky Divas and Whatta Man, En Vogue released a 7 song EP called Runaway Love. Which featured the single Runaway Love. Runaway Love was a successful single that peaked at #51 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. The EP peaked at #49 on the Billboard 200 Chart. The EP also included Whatta Man and 4 remixes of songs from Funky Divas. It also included a remix of Runaway Love. The Runaway Love EP allowed En Vogue to ride their wave of success from Funky Divas and go on a 2 year hiatus.

In the same year they were featured on the theme song for the TV show Hangin' with Mr. Cooper which aired on ABC for 5 seasons. Around the same time they recorded the theme song for the 2nd season of the TV show Roc which ran for 3 seasons on Fox. They also started to appear on the small screen, making appearances on those shows as well as the hit sketch comedy In Living Color and the popular sitcom A Different World. They also made their way to the big screen with a cameo in the critical failure Batman Forever. Dawn Robinson made a cameo in the cult classic Tank Girl in the same year.

During En Vogue's hiatus Terry Ellis recorded a solo album called Southern Gal in 1995. She had a minor hit with the single called Where Ever You Are. The single peaked at #52 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Southern Gal peaked at #116 on the Billboard 200 Chart.

In 1998, songwriter Andrea Martin released her own album called The Best of Me.  The single Let Me Return the Favor peaked at #82 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 1998, songwriter Andrea Martin released her own album called The Best of Me. The single Let Me Return the Favor peaked at #82 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Mathias, Martin & Etheridge

The song was written by Ivan Mathias, Andrea Martin and Marqueze Etheridge. Mathias and Martin are a writing team that has written songs for a lot of notable artists. Don’t Let Go is the highest ranked song they have written. They have written 3 Top 10 songs. Don’t let Go(Love) (#2), You’re the One (#5) by SWV and Before You Walk out of My Life (#7) by Monica. All songs I love by the way. Both have written various Top 100 Hits. Etheridge also co-wrote the #1 hit Waterfalls with TLC member Left Eye and the production group Organized Noize.

From left to right:  Rico Wade, Ray Murray and Sleepy Brown
From left to right: Rico Wade, Ray Murray and Sleepy Brown

Atlanta based production trio

Don’t Let Go (Love) was produced by Organized Noise and Ivan Mathias, who also co-wrote the lyrics. Organized Noize is an Atlanta based production group that consists of Rico Wade, Ray Murray and Sleepy Brown. Sleepy Brown has released a few albums of his own and has collaborated with many big time artists. Brown was featured on the #1 hit The Way You Move by Big Boi from Outkast. They are most known for their production work with other Atlanta based groups such as Outkast, TLC, Goodie Mob and Xscape.

Dawn Robinson never achieved the success as a solo artist that she did being apart of En Vogue.
Dawn Robinson never achieved the success as a solo artist that she did being apart of En Vogue.
Lucy Pearl was over before it got off the ground.  Robinson left the group shortly after the release of their 2nd single.
Lucy Pearl was over before it got off the ground. Robinson left the group shortly after the release of their 2nd single.
Timing can be your worst enemy in show business.  Dawn's solo album came out 6 years after Don't Let Go (Love) and by then she had cooled off.
Timing can be your worst enemy in show business. Dawn's solo album came out 6 years after Don't Let Go (Love) and by then she had cooled off.

En Vogue's break up, Dawn Robinson's journey and return

The success of Don't Let Go (Love) was also the demise of this group. Dawn Robinson had a shot at being a solo artist, but had to choose between that and working on a new album as a member of En Vogue. With the success of this single there was no better time to take that leap and she did. Before leaving, Robinson had recorded several tracks with En Vogue on this new album. With Robinson leaving, En Vogue had to go back and re-record a lot of the tracks that had Dawn on the lead vocals.

Robinson's 1st project after leaving En Vogue was singing the chorus on the song Firm Biz by the newly formed Hip Hop group The Firm. The Firm consisted of Nas, AZ, Foxy Brown and Cormega. Firm Biz was released in 1997, a year after the release of Don't Let Go (Love). After a couple of years of her solo career stalling, in 1999, Dawn Robinson joined the group Lucy Pearl. Lucy Pearl included Raphael Saadiq from the group Tony! Toni! Tone!, Ali Shaheed Muhammad from A Tribe Called Quest and Dawn Robinson. Lucy Pearl's debut album was certified platinum. The album peaked at #26 on the Billboard 200 Chart. Their 1st single Dance Tonight was their most successful. It peaked at #36 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Dance Tonight was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. Robinson left the group after their debut album due to a dispute over fair compensation. Robinson took the opportunity to take another shot at a solo career.

6 years after leaving En Vogue, Dawn Robinson's solo album was finally released. It was titled Dawn and was released in 2002. Robinson, co-wrote more than half of the songs on the album, including the 1st single Envious. Envious reached #39 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The album reached #56 on the Billboard 200 chart. Robinson never achieved the success that she did in her first run with En Vogue. In 2005, Robinson rejoined En Vogue only to leave shortly after rejoining the group. Robinson reunited with En Vogue in 2008 to go on tour. It looked like the group was finally getting back together, but Robinson left the group again due to contract negotiations.





The success of Don't Let Go (Love) drove the label to get En Vogue back into the studio to record EV3, which features Don't Let Go (Love)as a single.
The success of Don't Let Go (Love) drove the label to get En Vogue back into the studio to record EV3, which features Don't Let Go (Love)as a single.
The end of an era.  From left to right: Cindy Herron, Dawn Robinson, Maxine Jones and Terry Ellis.
The end of an era. From left to right: Cindy Herron, Dawn Robinson, Maxine Jones and Terry Ellis.

EV3 and the end of the original line up of En Vogue

The move didn’t really work out for Robinson. She bounced around from project to project. She had some minor success on her own, but never achieved what she did as a member of En Vogue. The move didn’t help En Vogue either. They seem to miss the powerful lead vocals of Dawn. The other members were just as capable vocalists as Robinson but it just felt like something was missing. The chemistry was gone. They released EV3 in 1997 after Robinson left the group. EV3 did really well. It was 4X platinum and featured Don't Let Go (Love). They re-recorded the songs in which Robinson was the lead vocalist, but kept the songs that she sang background on. So Robinson had a hand in the success of this album as well. Without Robinson they went from great to ordinary.

Don't Let Go (Love) is my favorite En Vogue song. It was the groups final Top 10 song. It's greatness ended the original run of one of the top selling and most successful groups of the 90's.

En Vogue's Success in the 90's

Year of Release
Top 10 Singles
US Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position
Album
Grammy Awards
 
1990
Hold On
#2
Born to Sing
Nominated for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group
 
1992
My Lovin'(You're Never Gonna Get It)
#2
Funky Divas
Album Nominated for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group
 
1992
Giving Him Something He Can Feel
#6
Funky Divas
Album Nominated for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group
 
1992
Free Your Mind
#8
Funky Divas
Nominated for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group
Nominated for Best Music Video, Short Form
1993
Whatta Man with Salt-n-Pepa
#3
Very Necessary-Salt-N-Pepa & Runaway Love EP
Nominated for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group
 
1996
Don't Let Go (Love)
#2
Set It Off Soundtrack & EV3
Nominated for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group
 

Who would you choose?

Who is your favorite member of En Vogue?

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    • Randal Bruce profile image
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      Randal Bruce 21 months ago from Charlottesville, VA

      How could you possibly forget about a show that the main character was a garbage man who was fascinated by garbage?

    • Mick97 profile image

      Mick97 21 months ago from Greensboro, NC

      This was a very informative article. I had totally forgotten about the show, "Roc."