What's All This About?
I would like you to listen to Zapp's “Computer Love” in full, before you proceed. Listen to that magic from 1986. Check to how far ahead of the world they were. Notice all of Charlie Wilson's overlooked-but-essential ad-libs. Take it all in. It's filled with greatness, and more comes out with each listen.
Now you're in the right mood, let’s get to business. Some tracks have a vibe that makes everyone think they can have a go. “Computer Love” is one of those tunes. Apparently hundreds of rappers (predominantly from the left side of America) have put their own spin on it. Others – usually from elsewhere in the country – have come up with more original ways to bring the technology loving concept to life.
Before we start, let’s make rules:
- No phone love. Sorry, Trina, Adina and Syleena
- No pagers. “2 Way Freak” is great though
- DMing tracks don’t count Insta/Twitter
- The love may be brotherly, sisterly, between lovers or with a sidepiece
- Any sample of the original better be used for good reason – especially if you’re straying from the ‘love’ thing
- Bonus points for tech references
The Weak Stuff
Janet Kay – “Computer Love” (1991)
The Lovers Rockers dem just can’t help themselves. They have to have a go at all the classics. This Janet Kay Bogle rendition, unfortunately, isn’t a cover you need in your life.
South Central Cartel – “Gangsta Luv” (Part 2) (1997)
While SSC’s part 1 used Zapp’s “Be Alright” as its backdrop, the second part made full use of the subject of this post. The results? Hmm. It’s missing something.
Eric B – “Love” (1995)
Eric, mate. What on earth is this. Eric B’s solo work wasn’t saying a lot, but I have no words for this.
Gaimboiz – “Computer Love” (1995)
I’m alright, ta.
Aaron Carter – “My Internet Girl” (2000)
Whoever wrote this song is a wrong’un. Keeps your kids away from strangers online, yeah.
Lil Boosie – “Lil Boosie Love” (2005)
You can already hear the results in your head. It’s exactly what you think it is. Stay clear.
C.O.A. Click – “Southside Love” (2005)
Now this is just disrespectful. Skip, skip, skip.
Z-Ro – “Mo City Streets” (2011)
The Mo City Don is a great artist, but this is a shocker.
Drawz – “Thin Line” (1996)
Making a title track for a film soundtrack is a big responsibility, especially when we’re a no-namer. Drawz was unfortunate that a H-Town and Roger Troutman track of the same title featured earlier in the tracklist, because by the time we get to his one, he can’t compete. Even with that sample, this is just dry. Move on.
Ms Sancha – “Ms Sancha Live.com” (2006)
Explore the works of Ms Sancha, when you get time. How she passed the wider public by, I’ll never know. This is peak MySpace-era independent Rap material. Extreme NSFW warning on this one.
We’re Getting Somewhere
Bloods – “Piru Love” (1993)
Novelty album idea: let’s get Crips and Bloods to cuss each other on the same CD. Sure. `it happened though. After a few auditions, “Bangin’ on Wax” came out, and had a little success in the US. Read how it came together, because the story seems unbelievable. Keep searching to see what happened to them all. Anyway, “Piru Love”, one of the singles from their first album, does as expected. That’s not the kinda love we’re looking for though.
Sean Levert – “Tasty Love” (1995)
R.I.P. to a real one. Sean Levert did his thing. Nothing amazing, but we’re glad this exists.
Fabolous – “Computer Love” (2006)
Loso plays the fly boy role here to great effect. It’s functional, much like everything he does.
The Click – “Scandalous” (1995)
The Click get a pass for most things. E-40 ‘n’ ‘em ride the instrumental nicely here, but I’m not getting romantic vibes off this one.
Paul Wall – “Internet Going Nutz” (2005)
No other rapper would admit to chirpsin’ girls off chat rooms, surely.
Pretty Ricky – “Computer Love”
One that many may have missed – still with the original line-up – we have Florida’s favourite R&B and Rap fusion group giving us that real computer loving, without having to borrow from Zapp. It’s OK, but was clearly just a warm up for what they had coming.
The Ones That Went All The Way With It
Next – “Cybersex” (2000)
Next’s debut included a song called “Phone Sex”. It fit the time. Seemed natural. Sounded good. Not as good the Ruff Endz or Avant ones, but good. Album #2 dropped in the year 2G, so what were they supposed to talk about? They ramped things up, and introduced people to “Cybersex”. The lyrics are laughable, but it’s the reason this post even exists.
The chorus goes:
“I want your PC/
Sit on my laptop/
Baby, please don’t stop/
Download all over me/
Let me into your internet/
Dial me up; it’s time for cybersex”
And there’s even better stuff about viruses and things in the verses.
There’s even a bit of Roger Troutman-esque talkbox action in here, just to confirm that “Computer Love” reference.
Pretty Ricky – “Say a Command” (2009)
Autotune was still the thing to do in 2009. R&B singers and rappers had to computerise their voices at this time. After giving things a test run on “Computer Love”, the Pleasure P-less Pretty Ricky reattempted metaphorical computer loving with “Say a Command”. They must have brainstormed lyrics for ages here, and it still turns out to be a right shambles.
Lil' Kim – “Download” (2009)
Released shortly before we had to pick a side between her and Nicki, “Download” had all the elements for greatest. T-Pain filling in for the late Roger Troutman, Charlie Wilson certifying the tune with an appearance, and a largely untouched instrumental. Kim wasn’t aware that we were past MySpace and floppy disks (?!?) by this point, but it otherwise get a pass.
*NSYNC – “Digital Get Down” (2000)
I’m gonna say it: *NSYNC were the best American boy band of that era. Go back and listen before you start arguing back. This very track is evidence. As well as the Jungle breakdown towards the end (big up the producer for the vision), we have the lads predicting the future of computer love. The internet wasn’t fast enough when this song dropped, but they’re basically talking about doing nasty things with webcams. Imagine how bad the quality was.
Please remember, this was on a CD parents bought for their kids. Glad they were actually talking about it on the forums back then.
BLACKstreet – “Wanna Make Love” (1994)
I understand why BlackStreet’s first album was so long. Teddy was excited. It was a new era. He had new ideas with his new band. It was time to slow the tempo down after he’d rinsed New Jack Swing for all its worth. Amid some of R&B’s greatest contributions on this 20-track release, he brought us this full on Zapp “Computer Love” revisit. Dropping not even years after the original, maybe it was a little too soon, but it captures the spirit of this project perfectly – drawing elements of the ‘80s into then then-new swang.