Mind-blowing tidbit for the day - Javacia could have married a member of 112. Yes, it's true. But she wised up and settled for yours truly. Wouldn't you?
But more on that later. The hater in me celebrates that I got the girl, but the music fan in me will always show 112 the utmost respect. You know what the old folks say - good things come in threes. And the group's first three albums are, in my opinion, the best consecutively released R&B albums in the past 15 years. I can't recall any other group or solo artist who had three back-to-back-to-back mind-blowing releases.
Sadly, once they hit album No. 4, they hit a wall. What ever happened to those guys?
In the mid 90s, young Atlanta crooners Marvin "Slim" Scandrick, Daron Jones, Quinnes "Q" Parker and Michael Keith caught the ear of Sean Combs, who was mesmerized by their vocal prowess. Y'all know the formula by now - '90s Diddy + talented artists = $$$$. Heck, '90s Diddy + marginally talented artists = $$$$, as these girls would attest to.
Puffy signed the quartet outside of Atlanta's Buckhead 112 Club and the name stuck. Success soon followed.
The group's self titled debut was released in the summer of 1996. The timing couldn't have been more perfect - Puffy was dominating the musical landscape and 112 had an unstoppable juggernaut (word to the X-Men) in their corner. It also helped that the album was AMAZING. Singles like "Cupid," "Only You" and its remix are still fondly remembered, thanks to lines like this, from the Notorious B.I.G.:
"Jeeeesus, the Notorious just/please us with your lyrical thesis."
That one line is greater than Young Money's entire rap career. Sigh, that's why I still mourn that man.
Those singles are certainly memorable but the album cuts were even better - "Pleasure & Pain," "Can I Touch You," "Throw It All Away," "In Love With You," all classics in their own right. The double-platinum debut is easily a 5-star classic.
By 1998, even though Bad Boy Records had lost Biggie, they were still the hottest label in urban music. It was then when 112 released the second album in their holy R&B trinity, Room 112. It wasn't as ballad heavy as their debut but the quality was still superb. "Love Me" and "Anywhere" upped the tempo on their trademark sensuality and when it was time to slow things down, they easily returned to their element with "Love You Like I Did" and "Crazy Over You." It was yet another bulletproof release, and another double-platinum seller.
Sometime after release of this album and the promotion of their next one, Q Parker started frequenting the campus of the University of Alabama, the alma mater of the wifey. Just think - if those two hooked up, he'd probably be writing this right now, and I'd be doing...whatever it is he does these days. More on that sad story later.
Bad Boy's gravy train was starting to run out of steam by the turn of the millennium, but 112's third album, Part III, provided one last burst of energy. Lead single "It's Over Now" borrowed the beat from Mobb Deep's "Quiet Storm," giving the guys a little edge to their loverman act. Their biggest hit though was "Peaches and Cream," which hit No. 4 on the pop charts, becoming their most successful release. Surprisingly, (or not surprisingly, if you know me), that was probably my least favorite cut on the album. Gems like "Sweet Love" and "Do What You Gotta Do" were much more satisfying. Again, for the third straight time, 112 knocked it out of the park and enjoyed platinum success.
Oh but success can be so fleeting.
A year or so later, it was clear that 112 was ready to move on. You can't blame them - Puffy had just beat his shooting case, leaving poor Shyne to rot away in jail in his stead, and he was more concerned with clothing and reality shows than promoting music. The group split "amicably" with Puff and signed with Def Jam. Puff even served as "executive producer" (i.e., he kept his hands in their pockets). Their fourth album, 2003's Hot & Wet, just seemed off. I mean, look at that greasy album cover. You could fry 10 pounds of bacon on their foreheads. The upbeat singles "Na Na Na Na" and "Hot & Wet" tried to mimic the success of "Peaches and Cream" but fans weren't buying it. After three masterpieces, it was hard to swallow mediocrity. Hot & Wet was as appealing soggy bacon.
With renewed focus, 112 returned in 2005 with Pleasure & Pain, a tribute to the song from their 1996 debut. While nowhere near as good as their first three discs, Pleasure & Pain somewhat redeemed the damage done from Hot & Wet. "U Already Know" was a minor hit and "What If" helped push the album to platinum status.
By 2007, rumors of strife began to arise (about money, of course) and all four members began to discuss solo projects. As far as I know, only two of those projects actually materialized. The most widely known is Slim's 2008 album Love's Crazy, which featured "So Fly" and "Good Lovin'." It was a very solid release - much better than 112's final two albums. That same year, Mike dropped Michael Keith, which wasn't bad. Check out "No More Tears" - longtime 112 fans will love it.
For years, Javacia's almost-babydaddy Q has bragged about dropping an album but I guess he has been too busy hanging out on college campuses to actually release it. Plenty of his unreleased tracks are on YouTube. Same goes for Daron, who has stepped from behind the producer's booth to record a few songs of his own. Check them out but I'll warn you, their solo efforts aren't as strong as Mike and Slim's. Daron's newfound Super Playa act is especially hard to swallow.
Should They Come Back: YES, YES, YES. 112 is like good chili: separately, the ingredients are fair to decent, but combine those same ingredients and you'll be truly satisfied. But don't lose heart, 112 fans - there are rumors of a reunion. About a year ago, a few songs began to pop up online, the best being "One More Try." Mike, Q and Daron are on board, but Slim has yet to commit. Too bad Javacia didn't marry Q, she'd have them in the studio in no time.