It’s Throwback Thursday and I can’t think of a better throwback for Philly than Boyz II Men. I still say to this day that not only was this the BEST male R&B group that came out of Philly, but this is the BEST Male group of all time. They had vocals unlike anything you could imagine. The way they harmonized together, the lyrics to their songs, their smooth, melodious sounds were unlike anything I have ever heard in my 30 years on this planet. (Wait… did I just tell my age. Sonuva…). You find me a group that has come out after Boyz II Men and tell me they’re better than Boyz II Men and I have no problem looking you in the eye and saying “You’s a damn lie!”
What I have always respected about Boyz II Men is that they did not have to resort to slutty song lyrics, singing about putting their tongue in explicit places while the random chick twerked this way and that. Yes, they made songs about love making. But it was sensuous and tasteful. Something that this generation of Chris Brown, Trey Songz and whoever the hell else is spewing this musical pornography, fans will never fully understand and never be able to appreciate.
A little history on Boyz II Men. Yes, they are from Philly. They actually attended the high-school that I wanted to go to (but unfortunately I got stuck with University City… no shade though) Philadelphia High-School for Creative and Performing Arts , or as many of us call it, CAPA. We know the group as consisting of four members, Nate, Mike, Shawn, and Wanya, (who didn’t have a crush on Wanya??) but the group actually started out with George Baldi, Jon Shoats, Marguerite Walker in 1985 and Wanya would later join the group in 1987. They first called themselves “Unique Attraction” and didn’t change it to Boyz II Men until Jon, George and Marguerite graduated and Shawn, Nate and Mike joined afterwards. With New Edition being one of their biggest inspirations, the group’s name Boyz II Men came from one of New Editions songs.
Boyz II Men got their big break in 1989 when they performed at a school’s Valentine’s Day party and then sneaked back-stage to sing for Bel Biv Devoe ( remaining members of New Edition, Michael Bivins, Ricky Bell, Ronnie Devoe) After singing the groups song “Can You Stand the Rain”, it would be Michael Bivins who would give the group their chance.
“Back in school we used to dream about this every day/ Could it really happen? Or do dreams just fade away/ So we started singing and they said it sound smooth/ So we started a group and here we are, kicking it just for you…” Those dope lyrics would be sang by practically everyone in Philly when “Motown Philly” would blast through the airwaves of Power 99FM in 1991, released May 24th. The song would immediately become a hit reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album, CooleyHighHarmony debuted at #58 on the Billboard 200 but would later reach #3 on the US charts and #7 in the UK. The group would also see success that year with their remake of G.C Cameron’s It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday from the 1975 movie, Cooley High. The song would meet much greater success behind the harmonious sounds of the Philadelphia native quartet peaking at #1 for Hot Hip-Hop/R&B Songs and eventually reach #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
While a lot of R&B groups during the 90′s struggled to follow up with the same success they started out with, Boyz II Men came back just as strong with their 1993 hit “End of the Road” from the Blockbuster movie soundtrack Boomerang starring Eddie Murphy which topped the Top R&B Albums for two weeks. The song would replace Diana Ross and Lionel Richie’s Endless Love as being Motown’s most successful song for the label.
“Close your eyes, make a wish, and blow out the candlelight/ For tonight is just your night/ We’re gonna celebrate, all through the night/ Pour the wine, light the fire/ Girl your wish is my command, I submit to your demands/ I will do anything, girl you need only ask/ I’ll make love to you, like you want me to/ And I’ll hold you tight, baby all through the night/ I’ll make love to you/ when you want me to/ And I will not let go ’till you tell me to..” (fanning myself) I was about to sing the whole damn song for y’all. Anybody born between 1994 and 1996, chances are, ya momma got pregnant because of this song. Go ahead and ask her. Of course she won’t “tell you”, just watch her facial expression change as she reminisces on that shit. LOL! I remember as a kid, every time I turned on the radio, this song was playing. I have to say that this was the only song and group from my generation that my mother liked. She didn’t want to hear all the mumbo jumbo those other singers were spewing. But you turn on Boyz II Men, and she was cooler than a fan. “I’ll Make Love to You” became a #1 hit for Boyz II Men and Motown Records. It would top the charts holding the #1 spot for 14 weeks. It set a record for most weeks being at #1 at the time, tying the record with the late Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” from the Bodyguard soundtrack. The single turned platinum and won the 1995 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group and two American Music Awards for Favorite Pop/Rock Single and Favorite Soul/R&B Single. The song is still at #17 on Billboards All Time Top 100
Besides the Beatles, Boyz II Men was the only group to break their own record for number of weeks at #1 with “One Sweet Day”, a collaboration with platinum recording artist, Mariah Carey. The song would sit at the #1 spot for 16 weeks and is the longest running #1 song in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart. It’s shocking to know that this single did not win one single Grammy. (Highway robbery)
Though Boyz II Men is no longer a quartet (Michael McCray left the group in 2003 due to health issues) they still tour and perform and recently released an album in 2011 entitled “Twenty” in honor of their twenty years in the music business. It included 13 original songs along with eight re-recorded Boyz II Men songs.
“When you said goodbye, I felt so all alone/ there were times at night I couldn’t sleep, my heart was much to weak to make it on my own/ Baby after all the misery and pain you put me through/ so unfair to me girl, you’re no longer my world/ And I ain’t missing you… at all”- Doing Just Fine. When I first heard that song, all I could do was shake my head. That became one of my all time favorite Boyz II Men songs next to “End of the Road”. I still keep that in heavy rotation and I will admit, I get a little teary eyed at that part of the song. Wanya sang the hell out of that portion. I’d like to find the girl who broke his heart and brought out that kind of raw emotion to cause him to put so much energy into his part and not only slap the hell out of her, but give her a handshake too (if there were such a girl for the motivation behind his singing LOL). I still find myself saying, “You better sing the damn song, boy!” on that part.
Boyz II Men undoubtedly is one of the best (and I still say THEE best) male R&B groups of all time. And since “I’ll Make Love to You” was released July 26th, 1994 and is almost at it’s 20th anniversary, here is the music video below. Baby making music at its finest. LOL Enjoy everyone. Thanks for reading. PEACE!!