’90s Flashback: Adina Howard Walked So Today’s Racy Queens Could Run

Mike Wass | April 8, 2020 5:15 pm
'90s Flashback: Heather Nova
We remember Heather Nova's alt-rock classic 'Walk This World.'

In this franchise, we look back on our favorite bops — both hits and underrated gems — from the 1990s.

While sex-positive bops are now commonplace on the charts, there was a time (not that long ago) when a woman singing about her needs was all but taboo. One of the songs that changed all that was Adina Howard’s “Freak Like Me.” Preempting Khia’s “My Neck, My Back (Lick It)” by a good seven years, the New Jack Swing banger was a phenomenon. Both for its blunt lyrics and refreshingly unapologetic approach. Adina wasn’t looking for anyone’s approval. She flew the freak flag with a pride and self-assurance that still astounds.

“I want a freak in the morning, freak in the evening — just like me,” the newcomer sang on the pre-chorus over samples of two classic R&B hits (Sly & the Family Stone’s “Sing a Simple Song” and Bootsy’s Rubber Band’s “I’d Rather Be with You”). “I need a roughneck ***** that can satisfy me, just for me.” The chorus is even more defiant. “‘Cause I will be a freak until the day until the dawn,” Adina confirmed. “And we can boom boom all through the night ’til the early morn.” In fact, she was ready to go “any time of day.”

“Freak Like Me” not only found a receptive audience, it went on to become one of the biggest hits of 1995 — peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and selling more than a million copies. Instead of toning it down to appease the masses, Adina forged ahead with her freaky agenda. If anything, the singer’s debut album is even more graphic. (Do You Wanna Ride? houses gems like “You Got Me Humpin,'” “Horny For Your Love” and “If We Make Love Tonight”). None of those songs would replicate the success of “Freak Like Me,” but Adina’s bedroom bop never went away.

Decades have passed and “Freak Like Me” is still a club staple. It has also been sampled, interpolated and covered by a small army of new artists including the Sugababes, who landed a UK #1 hit with their version in 2002. After a well-earned break, Adina returned in 2018 with a new album called Resurrection. And yes, she is still as raunchy and unapologetic as ever. Revisit the 46-year-old enduring contribution to popular culture below.

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