Freak Me
by Silk

Album: Lose Control (1992)
Charted: 46 1
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  • The apotheosis of hypersexual early '90s R&B, "Freak Me" is one of the more surprising #1 hits of the decade. Most songs about sex make some attempt at innuendo, but not here. The guys from Silk take turns mapping out their bedroom tactics rather explicitly ("lick you up and down," "see your body drip").

    Years earlier, a song like "Freak Me" could never have gone mainstream, but after Bell Biv DeVoe took "Do Me!" to #3 in 1990, any sexual shock value had abated. This was also a time when radio was very fragmented, so pop stations had to pick a lane among grunge, gangsta rap, and sultry R&B, and the stations that rode with R&B overwhelmingly played "Freak Me."
  • "Freak Me" was written by Keith Sweat with his collaborators Roy Murray and Anthony Johnson. Sweat made his mark in the New Jack Swing genre with his debut single, "I Want Her," in 1987. He was known for sultry but danceable songs like "Make You Sweat" and "Keep It Comin'."

    Silk, a five-member group from Decatur, Georgia, came to his attention in 1991 when they sang for him at a Fourth of July barbecue (Silk's manager was married to Sweat's road manager). Impressed, Sweat brought them on tour and had them do backing vocals on his album Keep It Comin'. Sweat co-wrote most of the songs for Silk's debut album, Lose Control, and also did production work on it. Sweat also helped the group get a record deal with his label, Elektra, which were rewarded when "Freak Me" became a huge hit and helped the album sell over 2 million copies.
  • Silk's first single was "Happy Days," which also involves some licking up and down, but isn't nearly as sexual. Keith Sweat performs on the track, making it more appealing to radio. It got a bit of airplay, peaking at #86 on the Hot 100 in February 1993, but radio stations were more interested in "Freak Me," which they started playing even though it wasn't a single. Listeners went bonkers for the song, so Elektra issued it as a single and put their weight behind it. In March, it went to #1 on the R&B chart, where it stayed for eight weeks; in May, it hit #1 on the Hot 100, knocking off another unlikely hit: "Informer" by the Canadian rapper Snow.
  • For Silk, this song's success was a mixed bag. It meant they could finally quit their day jobs (baritone singer Gary "Big G" Glenn was working for Domino's Pizza), but they weren't so "freaky" in real life - they grew up singing in church and didn't want the song to define them. When they recorded it, they didn't think there was any chance it would be a hit.
  • This song led to a resurgence in the "freak" subgenre, which had a moment in the late '70s and early '80s with songs like "I Want'a Do Something Freaky To You" by Leon Haywood, "Le Freak" by Chic, and, of course, "Super Freak" by Rick James. The word "freak" started showing up in lots of rap lyrics and was the basis for more R&B songs, including Adina Howard's "Freak Like Me."
  • Silk had a few more hits, including "Girl U for Me" (#26, 1993) and "Hooked on You" (#54, 1995), but nothing close to "Freak Me." They lost their label deal in the early '00s, but remained active into the '20s.


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