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Friday, April 4, 2014

Tam Tam - Do It Tam Tam (1991)

When I started this blog, it was very difficult to find any info on the artists I featured because they were so obscure.  As time went on and the internet grew, a lot of these artists reemerged, and their internet presence grew as a result.  Most times now when I want to feature an album, I can find quite a bit about the artist if I poke around enough.  Not true of Tam Tam.  There is virtually nothing about her out there, just basic info that her real name is Tammy Hairston, she was (and still is) from Boston, and that her one single, "Do It Tam Tam," reached the lower end of the Billboard R&B Singles chart.  The album was produced by mostly unknowns, but somehow her talent got her a deal with a major label, Island.  I even reached out to LaTamra Smith, former member of Isle postees Picture Perfect, as she was mistakenly thought to be Tam Tam, and it turns out that she was Tam Tam's back-up singer and dancer, but she has not heard from her since.  A message on Youtube indicates that Tam Tam became disillusioned with the industry and left it.  And there is a Tammy Hairston on Facebook who looks like it could be her, but I didn't want to harass her in case I was wrong or she would rather not discuss it. ;)  Whatever the case, the album is full of fun pop-rap and funky R&B, and Tam Tam has a great flow.  "Sweat To Death" is a great hip-house track, and "Miss You" uses the music from the Rolling Stones song of the same name.  Tam Tam was much better than many of her peers, IMO, but her album came out when every label was signing female rappers, thanks to the success of acts like Salt 'N Pepa, MC Lyte, and Queen Latifah.  Like many of her peers, several featured on this very blog, she got lost in crowd.  And maybe she wasn't interested in fame anyway after all.

UPDATE:  Thanks to Isle visitor Martin, I discovered a bit more about Tam Tam.   Back in 1989, authors David Foster Wallace and Mark Costello set out to write an essay to explain the essence and emerging popularity of rap music.  It ended up becoming a book, Signifying Rappers (which I am currently reading with interest).  In the book the authors describe how most people in the hip hop world refused to talk to them, but they did manage to get into a Boston studio, RJam Productions.  While there they met Tam Tam, who was then 16 and recording in the studio.  She had a loose family connection to the owners. The writers interviewed her for a bit, and they paint her as very young, naive and soft-spoken, but driven to have a successful rap career. She also revealed that she was interested in pursuing modelling.  She was then working on a diss track directed at rapper Antoinette, who Tam Tam and her producers claimed stole a song she had written and recorded a demo for called "I'm Crying".  The song was about Tam Tam consoling a friend, her rap partner Pebbles (apparently there was more than one Pebbles and then Pebbles was dismissed, since Tam Tam thought she was ruining her sound). Antoinette included the track on her album Who's The Boss? Tam Tam's diss track was called "Ho, You're Guilty".  Unfortunately the writers leave Tam Tam while she's recording the track, which was never released, and the next (and last) anyone would hear from her is this album.  If you care to read some of the essay yourself, you can check it out HERE.

Video for Do It Tam Tam

Live performance of Do It Tam Tam

Download Do It Tam Tam

1 Legacy Intro
2 Legacy One
3 Miss You
4 Boston Intro
5 Do It Tam Tam
6 Juvenile
7 Got It Going On
8 Sweat Intro
9 Sweat To Death
10 I Ain't Down With You
11 Legacy Two
12 A.I.E.


  1. Funny, I just read an essay by the late writer David Foster Wallace (written together with someone named Mark Costello). It's called "Signifying Rappers) and they write about Tam Tam and her music. They even spoke to her back when she was little and trying to get a foot in the door. Anyway: Tam Tam's uncle had a studio (RJAM) in Boston and that's where she recorded. Bobby Brown (THE Bobby Brown) was her uncle's close friend, if I remember correctly. And that's how she got her chance with a proper album. I like the album, though I wouldn't listen to it too often, I guess :-)

    1. Thanks for the tip! Just ordered the book! :)

  2. Tammy is a long time close friend...I have always supported her even now...she's a great person...indeed