As soon as you saw Ghostface Killah next to the pay phone in an army jacket, you knew this wasn’t one of those Untertainment videos where Charli Baltimore would end up spreading paint on the walls of the set. No, this grainy visual was purposely shot to be just as grimy as the song itself. Even for people who dismissed her as one of Biggie’s sidepieces, her ability to hang with Ghost over a RZA track at least temporarily gave Charli Baltimore a whole new image.
“Image is a negative word to me,” Charli would later say in a 2002 interview with Artist Corner Live. It’s not hard to see why, considering she was initially miscast as a Faith Evans double in Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s “Get Money.” Later, under the direction of Lance “Un” Rivera, viewers still saw a version of Charli that she wasn’t entirely comfortable with.
“When I first got signed people would just try to portray me in this image that just wasn’t me,” she added. “I grew up poor, and I had a baby when I was 15. I’m not exactly like your Britney Spears. In a way that’s a good thing. There are a lot of girls out there that went through the same thing I’ve been through. I think it’s important to relate to them and not let anything stop you.”
No one knows if RZA really copped her two fangs, as she rhymed in the first verse. But “The Abbot” sure as hell threw her a nice beat that was powered by some vocal samples of Lyn Collins’ “Me And My Baby Got A Good Thing Going.” James Brown originally produced the Lyn Collins track. So if you’re a crate digger, the aspect of RZA also producing an empowering song for a female artist was a nice case of history repeating itself.
Charli Baltimore resurfaced in the Aughts with Murder Inc, before putting the mic down to be a full-time parent and manager for one of her modeling daughters. We never got that Commission album, and only time will tell if she drops the rumored Controlling Charli project later this year. But in an era when male emcees are rocking skinny jeans and looking more dolled-up than the ladies, “Stand Up” is a nice nod to the past.