I recently did a post about Beyonce and her Formation Tour that is coming to Philly in June, and in that post, I spoke on Whitney Houston. It later dawned on me that the anniversary of her untimely death was a day before I made that post. So I felt a need to pay tribute to her a week after the anniversary of her death. Here’s to you Whitney Houston!
I remember when I was a little girl, my mother had the vinyl record player and she had soooo many records: Teddy Pendegrass, Luther Vandross, Earth Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan, Michael Jackson’s Thriller Album, Barry White, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, The Delfonics, and of course Whitney Houston (just to name a few LOL). When she worked at Jefferson Hospital, my oldest sister Sharmon looked after me and my other older sister, Markisha, on the weekends. Saturday mornings always started off with me waking up to my brother blasting EPMD or Public Enemy (Get up or get, get, get down, 9-1-1 is a joke in your town) and the smell of Sharmon making pancakes, scrambled eggs and sausages. Saturday mornings in Blumberg projects were EVERYTHING! After we would chow down on her good cooking, and she would clean the dishes, I would gather the few Barbie dolls I had or my Cabbage Patch doll, Cathy, and she would take me and my sister in the living room so she could braid my hair. I can still smell the Sulfur 8 that she would use on my scalp (yuck) when I think back on it. But while she did my hair, she would put on Whitney Houston’s record and we would all be bopping around to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” or “How Will I Know” and one of my favorites, “So Emotional”. Oh you couldn’t tell us we were a little “En Vogue” type group down there. (We actually were bad sounding… honestly LOL). I still remember putting the penny on the record or whatever to stop it from skipping LOL. But Whitney Houston was apart of our Saturday morning routine for a good chunk of my childhood. Even when we stopped using the record player and converted to the legendary “Boom Box”, when “The Bodyguard” came out, “I Will Always Love You” was in heavy rotation in our house. She proved, if anyone ever doubted her vocal skills prior to that, that she was a force to be reckoned with and outside of Patti Labelle, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight (all who were before her time) nobody in the 80s and 90s was fucking with Whitney, vocally. Her voice to this day when I watch a live performance of “I Will Always Love You” still brings tears to my eyes.
I won’t use this blog post to dive into her downfall, the allegations of drug use and how she went from being a household name to a household joke because her legacy deserves more than that. She deserves to be honored. There would be no Beyonce or Deborah Coxx or Rihanna had there not been a Whitney Houston. My only wish is that she had gotten herself together, gotten her voice back to where it was and rocked out for the next twenty or so years. Unfortunately, the powers that be had other plans…
So again, here’s to you, Whitney Houston, who I hope is moon-walking with Michael Jackson right now. Thank you for being apart of a memorable childhood and making Saturday mornings so enjoyable in my home during a time when living in the projects could be very hard, depressing and hopeless. You made me want to sing even though I chose to be a writer instead. I thank you for your gift. RIP Whitney Houston…
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!!
Let me just start off by saying I was a HUGE fan of this group when I was in the 10th grade. My brother bought me my first portable CD player and when I say everyday on my way to school I bumped this CD loud as hell, I’m not lying! My favorite songs on the original release which is the photo shown to the left were “Lights On, Lights Off”, “Cover Me”, “Just Can’t Go On”, and “Do What You Gotta Do”. My friends told me I was a groupie. Nah, not hardly. I just had mad respect for this group and thought they had some of the rawest talent coming out of Philly since Boyz II Men. Imagine my disappointment when they didn’t reach the kind of success I expected and anticipated that they would reach.
For those of you who don’t know who this group is (Shame on you), they were a vocal quartet that consisted of Damon Core, Dante Massey, Tommy Blackwell, and Nicholas Johnson, hailing from my city, Philadelphia at a time when Philly was going hard as hell in the music industry. We had Major Figgaz (where the hell are they?), Charlie Baltimore, (where the hell is she?) Eve, Beanie Sigel and Freeway. Beanie Sigel had me hype on Money, Cash, Hoes remix when he started his verse “Peep the kid from P-H-I-L-L-Y; North, West, South-west, South-side. Spitting for them niggas and bitches who stay fly; B-Mac Roc-a-fella till I die…” (Don’t act like y’all not banging your head and rapping along, stop playing) But anyways… (LOL) No Question burst onto the scene with their edgy hit (at least in my eyes it was a hit) “I don’t care”. A friend of mine, Brittany, was going on and on about this group while I was at her house hanging with her older sister, Jessica. She kept raving about how this hot group from Philly was coming out and had this “bomb-ass-song” called “I don’t care”. I didn’t know what the hell she was talking about and didn’t too much care. Until I heard the song myself…
I wanted to beat the breaks off of a heffa when I found out they were performing at Power House in October of ’99. I wanted some damn tickets. Unfortunately at 15, there was no way my mother was going to let me go to any concert. I may not have made it to Power House, but I was lucky to be at my school (University City) when they came to perform before we left for Winter Break. Hearing them sing live was freaking amazing. I mean this was a group who could actually SING live. No technical sprucing for their vocals or anything. They could actually sing. Which brings me to my main question of this blog… What the hell happened to No Question???
I heard rumors (that I’ve yet to be able to substantiate) that the R&B group was getting ripped off by Kenny Gamble and left to work with Chris Schwartz to become Ruff Nations’ first R&B group. I guess that would explain why an extended version of their first album was released…
I also heard that allegedly their sales didn’t reach the levels expected by the record label and they were dropped for Jaheim. (damn… seriously)
Okay, so where are they now? I did some searching on-line and was able to come across them on reverbnation. Instead of it being a quartet, they are now a three-some consisting of Damon, Dante, and a new guy named Nate. Um, where the f*ck is Tommy? Because his voice was the main one that stuck out to me in their album(s). I heard Nicholas was working in a Payless somewhere (hey… at least it’s a job) but again, I haven’t been able to substantiate that. Seems like there are lots of questions about “No Question” but no answers…
For those who want to purchase their first album, good luck finding it. However, the extended version can be found on Amazon and you can listen to this new version of “No Question” on Reverbnation. I follow Tommy on Instagram and befriended him on Facebook. He appears to be doing his own thing with a radio show and other things. (Sigh). Thanks for checking out my blog. Reminisce on the awesome sounds of this group by watching their “I Don’t Care” music video. I’ll be singing at the top of my lungs just like I’m 15 all over again. (Yup I still know all the words). Some of you probably will too. Peace!
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