As hip-hop began to become part pop culture during the '90s, an array sitcoms popped up that paid homage to rap—many them featuring fictional rap acts and storylines based on real-life events as part their plots.
One the shows from that era which displayed its affinity for hip-hop was the UPN comedy The Parkers, starring Mo'Nique (Nikki Parker) and Countess Vaughn (Kim Parker). A spin-f Moesha, on which Vaughn was a longtime cast member, The Parkers followed the lives a mother-and-daughter tandem, both whom attended Santa Monica College and engaged in a variety activities and shenanigans that usually ended in disastrous fashion.
However, aside from the antics, one the more memorable aspects The Parkers was the impromptu performances by Freestyle Unity, a fictional group comprised Kim and herSanta Monica College friends Stevie (Jenna von Oÿ) and "T" (Ken Lawson).
Related: 10 '90s TV Shows That Embraced Hip-Hop
The group picks up where Kim left f on Moesha, where she was part a group called CPQ—which included rappers "Q" (Fredro Starr) and Hakeem (Lamont Bentley), as well as singer "Niecy" (Shar Jackson)—and finds the trio attempting to find fame and fortune as a musical group. Blending rap and R&B, Freestyle Unity were a big hit on the Santa Monica College campus and made numerous appearances throughout the show's six seasons, most which were met with favorable reviews on the part fans and talent scouts.
Although Freestyle Unity would never release a major recording, the group is remembered as one the most talented fictional acts to rock the mic on primetime TV.
The Boombox takes a look back at a few Freestyle Unity's best performances on The Parkers.
"You're All I Need in My Life"
"The day's finally come where I can be a man/Tell you how I feel, keep it real, you understand," T raps on "You're All I Need in My Life," an open letter to his father, during a performance at Andells. With Kim and Stevie supporting him on backing vocals, T takes center stage as he reconciles with his father, resulting in one the more heart-warming performances from Freestyle Unity.
Freestyle Unity brings the house down with a performance "Pretty Young Thing" at Spring Bling 2000 on and episode from the first season The Parkers. Kim Parker gets the crowd worked up into a frenzy before T bursts on stage with an explosive verse his own, as Freestyle Unity hits the crowd with another one their signature hits.
"Saw you with you friends, I wondered if you'd speak," Kim Parker croons on "How Hard" during a live performance in front talent scouts, who have come to pick between Kim and her Latin rival. Rhyming "I burn rubber, more lethal than Danny Glover," T also comes correct on this outing, turning in one his more impressive verses to date and moves the crowd with his energy and charismatic swagger.
Freestyle Unity came together during a hard time to memorialize a close friend with their song "Momma Killed Him," which was inspired by Nicki Parker, who was alleged to have killed Kim's favorite clown from her childhood. Although their performance gets cut short, there's no question that "Momma Killed Him" is a serious bop and a worthy addition to Freestyle Unity's list hits.
"Picture Me Just Falling"
"Is it true love, cause baby I can't tell/You got me stacking my mail, still waiting to exhale," T raps on "Picture Me Just Falling" during a performance on the "Love Potion #83" episode. Ending the performance by giving a kiss to her boo, Kim leads on vocals, while Stevie juggles handling backing vocals and being enamored with her own vanity.
Nicki Parker joins Freestyle Unity on stage for an impromptu performance, but gets interrupted before getting into the groove her set, resulting in T being let back in the group after entertaining an fer to joint Lil Zane's camp. However, Nicki P manages to get f a few quality bars, pro her ability to step in for a timely cameo when need be.
Competition almost caused Freestyle Unity to implode after the three auditioned for a national talent show without telling each other. While each group member performs admirably, none them are selected as the winner and the trio decide to let bygones be bygones and put their solo aspirations behind them.