To stop fussing over what happened to the R&B music groups of the 90s, take a minute and listen to the album Three Kings by Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tyrese (TGT). You must get nostalgic while listening to songs by lost groups: Shai, Jodeci, 112, Xcape, Jagged Edge, Color Me Badd, Silk, LSG, Milestone, Blackstreet, En Vogue, Brownstone, Next, Total and many others. They are nearly all gone. Some of them are desperately trying to make a comeback, mostly through one or two members off the now-defunct groups. But it’s just not working. I don’t want to listen to a Sisqo album but Dru Hill. I don’t want to listen to an SWV album, sounding like the then SWV, but a new vibe still stamped with their signature. You can’t describe old school R&B, without those lost yet big names of the yester years, who together with myriad solo artists defined the 90s era as the decade of baby-making music. Now only Boyz II Men, New Edition, Kci & Jojo and Mint Condition have maintained keeping their spirit alive, displayed by recent releases/tours and concerts.
Music of the 90s simultaneously pushed hip hop and R&B genres, as opposed to this day when only pop and some kind of hip pop rules. Most music groups pressed the sex-music agenda, and we adored it and sang along. Only in the 90s were lyrics like: I wanna sex you up and I wanna freak you, were accepted, and bizarrely not considered as sexist or disrespectful. It’s the guts with which the singers sang out every single word they wrote, and the bravado in which they delivered it. It’s no wonder Brian Mcknight was scolded for singing the song “How Your Pussy Works” in 2012 while the macho-fueled new R&B kid on the block, Miguel was flagged off for singing “Pussy Is Mine”. L.A Reid, R. Kelly and Babyface were some of the exceptional masterminds of the 90s music movement (in terms of discovering artists and penning chart-topping hits). Toni Braxton, Tamia, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Kelly Price, Syleena Johnson, Sparkle, Aaliyah, Brandy, Faith Evans, Monica, are some of the queens of the time. If you’ve been keen, notice that apart from the deceased, the most of the rest have been keeping their music active and sticking to R&B, with some having released successful albums recently. The men, however, got completely lost. Apart from Musiq Soulchild, Donell Jones, Jon B, Tyrese, Justine Timberlake and Usher; where’s RL, Tevin Campbell, Case, Carl Thomas and the rest?
The brothers have been slacking behind. It’s actually coincidental that TGT’s new album came to the rescue, as it’s something the group had in the works for over five years. When Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank, all dressed in white, arrived at the 2012 BET Awards, seeing the combo left me feeling all nostalgic for their music and thinking to myself, ‘What a great album the trio could make!’ And then they announced, that indeed they would be releasing one soon. The group of best friends (Tyrese was actually the best man at Ginuwine’s wedding), all stellar vocalists and music writers formed TGT in 2007. At first it proved difficult to produce a joint album because of dissimilar label ties. Nevertheless, all through, they kept true to their friendship, solo careers and promise to their fans. Ginuwine released his latest solo album in 2011 while Tyrese and Tank released theirs in 2012. You might have missed to hear the new songs because we’re living in times when new R&B is quite unpopular. However, you can never forget some of TGT’s biggest hits from the earlier R&B songs like “Pony”; “Same Ol G” “Sweet Lady” “One” and “Please Don’t Go”. Out of their makers, Ginuwine has, to date, the most number of selling albums–a whooping 6.98 million, followed by Tyrese’s 3.69 million and Tank’s 1.76 million.
At last signed to Atlantic Records, this super group is an embodiment of the so-gone artists and groups of the 90s. And with the achievement of each of its member’s solo commercial success, there’s a confidence in such a music amalgamation. There’s a promise that it will remind music entertainment that there was a time when music was all about sensual song writing, telling stories, making love and men owning up; that there was a time when, to listen to some kind of music, you had to not be in the club, but be chilling at home, most likely in your bedroom with your better half. (Side note – Errm … I was in my bedroom doing homework in the 90sJ). Released 20th Aug 2013, the album Three Kings immediately shot to number one in the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop albums. How couldn’t it? How long have we been waiting for a true R&B album from artists of the 90s era? I can’t still help but look at TGT members separately, deeming each one as a king. They have altered Lost R&B, to new. TGT means the reincarnation of the lost R&B spirit. They are a leeway, through which all the other olden, and new artists alike, can squeeze into – and if it doesn’t fit – at least be inspired to reach the status of, not just divas but, kings and queens of R&B. Real music.
Those were the days…