Which male R&B groups stole your hearts back in the day?
By: Taren Vaughan
In this day and age, a good male R&B group is so very hard to find. Other than the emergence of Day 26, it’s rare that you find a group with the level of talent and sex appeal that the singers from back in the day possessed. People talk all day long about having swag. But these men right here had much more than that. When you think of some of the best male R&B groups of the ’90’s, what are the first names that come to mind? Here are some of our favorite groups that left a lasting impression and paved the way for many of today’s acts:
Hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina and Hampton, Virginia, this talented quartet captured the hearts of many women. With songs like “Feenin’” and “Forever My Lady”, Jodeci stood out amongst the rest when it came to their musical delivery. Although they found much success as a group, some of the members took on other projects as well. Producer/singer DeVante Swing worked on numerous songs for with other major artists at the time including Changing Faces and played a big part in launching the careers of Missy Elliott and Timbaland. Brothers K-Ci and Jo-Jo went on to form their own singing group that lasted a few years. And who could forget their cameo appearance on hit ‘90’s TV show Martin? Jodeci attempted to make a comeback last year. But have been pretty quiet since then.
Boyz II Men
Motown Philly’s finest, Boyz II Men is by far one of the most memorable groups on this list. Boyz II Men by far has some of the best love songs of all time. “I’ll Make Love To You” still gets much airplay after all these years and with much reason. As one of the few male R&B acts to receive the highest recognition in music, the group collected a total of four Grammy awards and was featured as the most successful musical group of the ‘90’s by Billboard Magazine. Heavily influenced by New Edition, Boyz II Men’s journey to fame was one for the ages as they surpassed a number of music greats when it came to putting out quality music. Being a hit in the United States is one thing. But reaching international stardom is another and these men were able to do that
Blackstreet hit us with some classic slow jams like “Before I Let You Go”. Even though they put out some great love songs, they also gave us some club bangers with “No Diggity” featuring rappers Dr. Dre and Queen Pen. Even after undergoing changes with the group, Blackstreet managed to still make hit records, which can be hard to do without the original group members. Teddy Riley also created Wreckx-n-Effect, a ‘90’s Hip-Hop group known for patenting the word “Rumpshaker” and was a member of yet another notable singing group that is next on the list of memorable boy bands.
A product of Teddy Riley’s musical genius, this R&B trio brought the real meaning of new jack swing to the forefront. Singles like “I Like” and “Piece of My Love” topped R&B charts and can be found on a number of Best of the ‘90’s CDs. Lead singer Aaron Hall tried his hand at a solo career. But he didn’t find nearly as much success as he did as a member of Guy. Their most recent appearance was when the group got back together to perform at the 2009 BET Awards, dedicated to the late Michael Jackson.
Bell Biv DeVoe
A spin off group from legendary ‘80’s R&B group New Edition, Bell Biv DeVoe’s music still remains popular amongst all age groups. Michael Bivins, Ricky Bell and Ronnie DeVoe teamed up to form Bell Biv DeVoe after disbanding New Edition, which later came back together as a group during the late ‘90’s. “Poison”, one of the most the group’s most popular songs, is still played at clubs and other night spots all over the country. BBD collaborated with other ‘90’s acts including Boyz II Men and TLC. They also paved the way for their young protégés, Another Bad Creation, who was discovered by group member Michael Bivins.
H-Town & Silk
Now when it comes to slow jams of this era, R. Kelly definitely had it in the bag. But he faced some tough competition from these next two groups on our list. Both H-Town and Silk were well known for their “baby-making music”. “Knockin’ Da Boots” become so popular that the group was encouraged to put out a Christmas version of the song, to add a little holiday cheer to the already mood setting song. H-Town released four albums total during their career. After the tragic death of lead singer Keven “Dino” Conner, the group did release another album in 2009, which had songs featuring Pretty Ricky and Jodeci. Silk was best known for hit song “Freak Me”, off of their 1993 album Lose Control. Over the span of their career, Silk has put out a total of six albums; the latest one being Always And Forever, which was released in 2006. Member Gary “Lil G” Jenkins stepped onto the acting scene, appearing in Tyler Perry’s play Madea’s Family Reunion.
Tony! Toni! Toné!
From their beginnings in the late ‘80’s, another group who put new jack swing on the map was Tony! Toni! Tone’!. Not only could these brothers sing and dance like no other, they knew how to play multiple musical instruments which set them aside from many of the up and coming R&B acts that came shortly after them. The group has had a number of their songs featured in classic black films like Higher Learning, Boyz In The Hood and House Party. They were no strangers to the charts as singles like “Lay Your Head On My Pillow” and “Whatever You Want” appeared on the Hot 100. Singer Raphael Saadiq, who pulled a “Teddy Riley”, went on to form another group, Lucy Pearl, which included En Vogue’s Dawn Robinson and A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad.
Teenage heartthrobs Immature is definitely an unforgettable male group of the ‘90’s. Who could forget the hairstyles that they rocked back in the day? While some of us weren’t too crazy about their do’s, no one could deny that these boys could really put on a show. From performing at sold out concerts, making cameo appearances in the hit movie House Party 3, and starring in sitcoms alongside twin actresses Tia and Tamera Mowry, there was not much that Immature hadn’t done. Lead singer Marques Houston went on to start his solo career in 2003. Romeo, now referred to as Young Rome, took his shot in 2004 but didn’t go on to release anymore albums. Although they no longer went by their original stage name, this trio was definitely unforgettable.
Shai, Hi-Five and Soul For Real also gave us classic hits that would deem them as memorable male R&B groups as well. Other talented acts including Dru Hill, 112, Next and Jagged Edge to name a few, hit the scene during the late ‘90’s. And for the younger crowd, you had B2K. Some of these groups are still trying to make comebacks. Since their beginnings, many boy bands have come after them and will still continue to do so year after year. Looking back on the number of talented male groups that were out during this time, it’s safe to say that those who grew up in this era should consider themselves lucky. The quality of R&B music itself is slowly declining. But we had the chance to hear and see raw talent that will never get old. I wonder if any male groups of today could ever live up to the level of success that these groups achieved. Not to through salt in anyone’s game, but these are some hard shoes to fill. Will there ever be another male R&B group who can rise to the challenge?