One of the ’90s most unappreciated R&B groups also has one of the most tragic stories.
It’s a sad reminder of how fleeting life can be. But let’s not mourn, let’s celebrate the music of Intro, one of the best R&B groups you’ve probably forgotten about.
Hailing from Brooklyn, NY, Intro was comprised of Jeff Sanders, Clinton ‘Buddy’ Wike and the voice of the group, Kenny Greene.
Now, depending on whom you ask, Intro was originally meant to be an acronym, meaning Innovative New Talent Reaching Out. Uh huh. It’s sort of like how people claimed that Junior M.A.F.I.A. stood for Masters At Finding Intelligent Attitudes or how Rick R.O.S.S. means Really Opposed to Side Salads. Well, that last one is probably true but in Intro’s case I bet it’s revisionist history at work.
Intro’s self-titled debut for Atlantic Records dropped in 1993 with the lead single, “Come Inside.” Ahem. I was much too young and innocent to pick up on the double entendre, I just thought it was a hot song. And I wasn’t wrong – years later, it’s still a banger. It was a modest hit too, climbing to No. 9 on the R&B charts and doing well on pop as well.
“Come Inside” was by far the group’s biggest hit and their only crossover success but don’t be mistaken, they had more heat. “Love Thang” was a decent uptempo number with a video that featured 1,001 ’90s cliches.
Brothers in a dark alley – check.
Dudes standing on raggedy scaffolding – check
Everyone wearing skull caps – check.
Woman showing off her beeper – check.
All we needed was some rain and backup dancers stomping in water puddles.
“Let Me Be The One” was another fun midtempo track but the one that really turned heads was Intro’s cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Ribbon In The Sky.” There’s a reason why you rarely hear covers anymore – no one has the balls (or ability) to do ’em. But Intro took up the challenge and did very well. No, they didn’t totally own the song and make their own (although Donell Jones would later, but that’s a rant for another day). Still, it was a very respectable effort that reached No. 11 on the R&B charts.
In 1995, Intro released their sophomore effort, the appropriately titled New Life.
It didn’t live up to its name though. I remember my radio station wearing out the first single “Funny How Time Flies.” It’s one of those songs that you might not like on your first listen but it eventually bores its way into your brain. It peaked at No. 25 on the R&B charts and even made a brief appearance on the pop charts. The follow up, “Feels Like The First Time,” couldn’t duplicate that success, though.
Soon after, the group called it quits, sinking back into the shadows with the rest of mid-90s hitmakers while hip-hop began to dominate the landscape. But during that time, Kenny Greene began to make his name as a songwriter. He had already penned two early hits for Mary J. Blige – “Reminisce” and “Love No Limit” – and continued that success with other artists, including 98 Degrees and Will Smith.
But the music world was rocked in 2001 when Greene, who is bisexual, revealed to the world that he was suffering from AIDS. He died later that year. It was heartbreaking to lose such a talented artist so soon.
Should They Come Back?: The remaining members of Intro have added Ramon Adams and Eric Pruitt as members and have been discussing a comeback for years. If they’ve released any new music I haven’t heard it. Honestly, without Greene, who was the pen AND the voice for the group, it will be very hard to recapture the magic. It’s a shame because they could have been so much more.