Never trust a big butt and a smile. Ronnie, Ricky and Mike (a.k.a. Bell Biv Devoe) took the world by storm in the early 90s with hits like their smash single “Poison”. However, the group was birthed from New Edition’s massive success. Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill, Ralph Tresvant, Ronnie DeVoe, Ricky Bell and Michael Bivins made groundbreaking history together. The group recently received their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. New Edition has its own mini series biopic which recently aired aired on BET. While stars like TLC and SWV missed their opportunity to capitalize on new music during their own biopics/reality shows, Bell Biv Devoe chose to strike while the iron was hot.
There is no word yet on whether or not New Edition will be releasing new music. However, the biopic mini series has already received rave reviews and record breaking ratings. Bell Biv Devoe just dropped their new album, Three Stripes, last week. You have to have respect for a group that is still relevant nearly 30 years after their hey day. There are plenty of nostalgic moments sprinkled throughout the album, including an intro from the legendary Dough E. Fresh. The group chose to play it safe for the most part. Nonetheless, this album is pure Hip Hop infused R&B. The group played it smart by sticking to their original sound. After all, they were part of the originators of Hip Hop artists collaborating with R&B artists that we hear so much of today.
The first half of the album has more of the uptempo party cuts. Bell Biv Devoe’s first single, “Run” is reminiscent of Biggie’s “Hypnotize”. The song details their frustrations of giving their all to an ungrateful woman. Eric Sermon wrote and produced the song as well. “Hot Damn” is one of the standout tracks though. The production will surely get you moving and this is one of the catchiest songs on Three Stripes. The group also doesn’t mind bucking up against any male competitors on the memorable “I’m Betta” (written and produced by KayGee of Naughty by Nature).
“All Dat There” dances a fine line between being an R&B slow jam and mid-tempo cut. Nonetheless, the group tows that line well. This one has single release potential written all over it. Some of the other slow jams are a bit underwhelming like the vocally crisp, yet lyrically lackluster “Finally” (featuring SWV). “Don’t Go” helps balance it out though as the second best slow song on the album. Boyz II Men (who Mike Bivins founded) stop by on the pleasant throwback, yet forced sounding “One More Try”.
Overall, BBD shines brightest when they are playing the bad boys of R&B. Three Stripes is a very solid effort though from three men who have nothing to prove at this stage in their career. They even slide in a reference to the hit single “Too Close”, from R&B group Next. Don’t call it a comeback. Ronnie, Ricky and Mike have been here for years.