Celebrating Black Music Month: Trendsetting R&B Male Groups/Artists: Jodeci

Continuing our celebration of Black Music Month, this week Singersroom digs into the 90’s vault for the best and most memorable R&B male artists and groups. From Jodeci to Silk and Brian McKnight to Usher, discover what made these artists hot and find out what they are up to today. Jodeci – Forever My Lady Kicking off this week, there is no trendsetting or ground breaking R&B group that can match the fire that 90s R&B group Jodeci possessed. With the release of their debut album Forever My Lady, Devante, K-Ci, Jo-Jo and Dalvin quickly became the “Bad Boys of R&B,” shattering the stereotypical image of the cookie-cutter and squeaky clean R&B male group. With Jodeci, gone were the days of button up sweaters, suits, bow ties, and clean traditional haircuts… Jodeci presented the young, the real and the creation of the modern male group that anyone could relate to, whether male or female, everyone was bumping to Jodeci in the 90s. The group consisting of two pairs of brothers – The Haileys (K-Ci & Jo Jo) and the DeGrates (DeVante & Dalvin) rose to fame in 1991 and had a strong hold on R&B through 1996. Although there were other groups around at the time including the highly successful quartet Boyz II Men, Jodeci’s signature style which included a blend of “New Jack Swing” from pioneers like Teddy Riley and Keith Sweat set the group apart. So far apart in fact that Jodeci influenced a new brand of R&B flavor, later channeled by Jagged Edge, Dru Hill, and Profyle. “Forever My Lady,” arguably the groups best album was certified 3X platinum spawning the hits “Come & Talk To Me,” “Stay,”“ I’m Still Waiting” and the title track “Forever My Lady.” Released under Uptown Records which at the time was home to Mary J Blige, Guy, Heavy D and the then burgeoning intern Sean Puffy Combs, the album topped out at no.1 on the Billboard R&B charts. With the help of Sean “Puffy” Combs, the group helped to create what we can now call Hip-Hip/Soul, the marriage of Hip-Hop and Soul music. Fueling their success, Jodeci made being young, raw and straight forward romantic, forcing Hip Hop acts like Tupac, The Notorious B.I.G. and others to take notice, later incorporating Hip-Hop with R&B soul as evidenced on many mid to late 90s hits like “One More Chance,” “How Do U Want It,” and “Love Is All We Need.” Post “Forever My Lady,” the group released two albums 1993’s “Diary of a Mad Band” and 1995s “The Show, The After Party, The Hotel,” both of which went platinum. The latter of the two would prove to be the last album for the trendsetting group that inspired many of today’s trendsetting and chart topping acts. Today: Since 1996, group members K-Ci and Jo Jo have released five studio albums including this year’s release in Japan entitled “Love,” a U.S. version of the record is slated to hit stores later this year. In addition to K-Ci and Jo Jo’s success as a duo, Devante “Swing” who penned many of Jodeci’s hits created the “Swing Mob,” a collective groups of songwriters, artists and producers which now dominate today’s charts. This “Swing Mob” including Missy Elliott, Tim “Timbaland” Mosley, and Melvin “Magoo” Barcliff worked under Devante and his team for a number of years, later spinning off successful acts including Playa, Tweet and Ginuwine in addition to their own successful projects. Although a reunion album has been talked about for many years, there is no word on whether that will come to fruition. One thing that is clear though, Jodeci left a permanent mark in the history of R&B and Hip Hop as well as a blueprint for R&B male artists to follow today. Without Jodeci, Usher might be sporting a button up sweater and tie, Pretty Ricky might not be singing about “Cuddling Up” and B2K would not have been “Bump, Bump, Bumpin” up the charts. Jokes aside though, what memories do you have of Jodeci or what is your favorite song?


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