The cover of "I Wonder if I Take You Home" by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam with Full Force.

I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, in a lovely little neighborhood called East Flatbush. Among the many memories of my adolescence, some of the more distinct ones involve playing football or punchball (a form of baseball in which the ball is one of those blue rubber thingies and the bat is your fist) and then having to practically dive back onto the sidewalk as an expensive sports car barrelled down East 45th Street. The driver of said sportscar was often Bow Legged Lou, who you may know as one of the muscle-bound relatives that made up the R&B band and production team known as Full Force. Not only did these guys score a handful of hits on their own (not to mention the fact that they starred in the “House Party” movies with Kid ‘n Play), but they’ve also built up a fairly impressive resume as writers and producers. They’ve had a hand in music by everyone from 80s pinup ho Samantha Fox to teen dreams Backstreet Boys and ‘NSync to TV actress-turned-singer Jasmine Guy to LaToya Jackson. They also discovered a stable of acts that included UTFO of “Roxanne Roxanne” fame and the group that comes in at #89 on this countdown-Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam.

While I’m still trying to figure out what the two Cult Jam guys actually did, Lisa Lisa was hip-hop’s first female sex symbol. Still a teenager at the time of this song’s release, the Hell’s Kitchen native had a pretty singing voice, some street cred, and a fantastically curvaceous body. Ask anyone who was a teenager in the Eighties about Lisa Lisa and chances are the first word that comes out of their mouth will be a derivative of “breasts”. Lisa’s jugs in the Eighties were what J. Lo’s hiney became in the Nineties.

“I Wonder if I Take You Home” mines the same tough-but-sensitive territory that Janet Jackson would explore a year and a half later with “Control”. Lisa spends most of the song wondering if she should invite a guy she recently met back to her place. She wants to retain some self-respect, and is trying hard not to let her hormones do the talking. Not only does the song fit in topically with a ton of other songs from the era, but it still sounds awesome nearly twenty-four years later. Lisa’s voice is the perfect picture of girlish confusion, and the stuttering synthesized groove cooked up by Full Force practically dictates that you either start doing the robot or pull a piece of cardboard out and lay it on the floor so you can do a head spin.

“Home” comes from the days when record companies actually waited patiently for a record to become a hit. Originally released in late ’84, the song didn’t blow up on the R&B charts until the summer of ’85 (that and Madonna’s “Into the Groove” might have been New York City’s two most played songs that summer) and didn’t cross over to pop until even later that year. Despite the fact that Lisa Lisa went on to score a pair of #1 pop hits after “Home”‘s success, this is probably still her best known song…just ask Fergie and the Black Eyed Peas, who turned “I Wonder if I Take You Home” into the God-awful “Don’t Phunk with My Heart”. Oh well, hopefully Lisa got some money out of the thing.

Anyway, Cult Jam split in 1991 and Lisa recorded one poorly-received but ambitious solo record before turning over to acting. She’s appeared in everything from the Nickelodeon sitcom “Taina!” to “Law & Order” and has also made some appearances on VH-1’s 3 million “I Love The…” specials. She also still performs in concert on her own and as part of 80s freestyle packages. You can check out her myspace page here. And (here’s another one I can’t embed), you can check out the video here.