Album Review: Bell Biv DeVoe, Three Stripes

three stripes

Bell Biv DeVoe

Three Stripes (released January 27, 2017)

It’s been quite a week for New Edition, huh?

The group started the week by receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame before captivating the country for three straight nights with their BET biopic, The New Edition Story.

Props to BET for hitting us with the original programming and putting those tired Madea movies on the shelf. We read the diary 1,000 times, we know the black woman is mad.

And how does the group cap off a monumental week? By cashing in on that buzz and releasing the first Bell Biv DeVoe album in 16 years.

Trust me, Mike Bivins is not turning down an opportunity to make paper.

Here’s a brief history lesson for you young’ns who may have missed the BET biopic: New Edition’s legacy is far greater than a handful of memorable songs (though they rightfully have bonafide classics on their resume). The group spun off massively successful solo careers and created the subgroup BBD, which gave us ANOTHER classic song (1990’s “Poison”), a debut album that went quadruple platinum and later birthed future ‘90s headliners like 702, Another Bad Creation and Boyz II Men.

Make no mistake, BBD are the forefathers of modern R&B. So, not surprisingly, Three Stripes, their fourth collective effort, feels more like a celebration of their legacy than an attempt to regain the crown.

They’ve got nothing to prove. Their DNA is already in your favorite singer’s flow.

After a brief intro by Doug E. Fresh, Three Stripes kicks off with “Find A Way,” picking up right where BBD left off – that self-styled “mental” brand of R&B – a hip-hop mentality merged with R&B and sprinkled with pop appeal.

The Erick Sermon produced first single, “Run” showcases that in spades. Sampling Herb Alpert’s “Rise” (or Biggie’s “Hypnotize,” depending on the date on your birth certificate) BBD chases after their dream girl over pulsating production. The upbeat“Hot Damn” feels more like modern pop, utilizing those 80s synths that have come back in style.

But as fun as these tracks can be the pacing seems slightly off, making them feel oddly lethargic at times. Current single “I’m Betta” rises above the pack though, thanks to Mike and Ronnie DeVoe’s braggadocious throwback flow. Let’s be real – BBD works best when Mike and Ronnie serve as hype men for Ricky Bell’s vocals. That formula flourishes here.

BBD also makes time to link up with a few familiar faces. “Finally” pairs the trio with SWV for a midtempo showcase that should earn Coko jail time for COMPLETELY STEALING THE SHOW. BBD also reunites with their mentees Boyz II Men on “One More Try,” which features a sleek, 70s feel accented with horns and gentle melodies.

That track, along with the Latin-tinged “Don’t Go” are great changes of pace – I really wish the set showcased a few more songs in that vein to diversify the album’s content.

Despite a few questionable inclusions (the album’s final track, “Incredible” is a re-recording of a three-year-old J. Holiday song for some random reason) Three Stripes is a fun, breezy listen that’s less of a triumphant comeback and more of a reminder of BBD’s pedigree.

They’ve already done it all. Three Stripes is just here to jog your memory.

Best tracks: “I’m Betta,” “One More Try,” “Run”

3.5 stars out of 5



  1. Good for them!! I was thinking it’d be crazy if someone from NE didn’t capitalize on the success of the biopic and release some albums. Now, I just need Ralph to come through with a lil’ something…

  2. This album did not disappoint!! Great music….i live the collaborations. Its good ole R and B. Their best work . I love it, its o. Replay in my car

  3. So loving this freaking album! Good job BBD! NE4life baby!

  4. One more try makes me think of growing up in the D…in the 70s…I know someone in Detroit has a hustle for it already. .great job fellas!

  5. The reviews on this album have been harsh. If you really want to know about the album read the comments instead. Every big-time NE/BBD fan says the same thing:”This album is the BOMB!” There’s a little bit of everything on here. The colabos with SWV and Boyz II Men are amazing. The Boyz II Men song sounds so old school. I love the Soul Train intro too. My favorite by far is BETTA!. Mike and Ronnie absolutely kill it. I absolutely love this album. Just press play and let it ride!

  6. I enjoyed this album! Brings back the good memories of early B.B.D. with a touch of new school. From the most part, they stuck with what they were good at and didn’t try to hard to be something they are not to fit in with today’s style. That’s a good thing!!!

  7. I enjoyed it too i hope it sell a lot for them they deserve it and I like Run, I betta,

  8. One More Try won me over! It’s that Feel good-feel good type of music that I can see steppers stepping to. You’re right, they have nothing to prove. They have earned their way through longevity, being transparent with their loyal fans, and gained a new generation of fans. Proud that they were a part of my musical life since ’83!!

  9. Huge NE fan. But, this CD was just OK for me. Only about 4, maybe 5 tracks I like.

  10. Sweeeet to hear BBD doing some nunu, but the cut that got my listen was “Incredible”. I don’t know if it was intentional(you know it was) but you could layer “Curtis Mayfield/ William deVaugns, Be Thankful for What You Got”)
    and it is sweet mashup…I ain’t mad atchu tho!!

  11. Love this album! Listen no I mean LISTEN to it. Put your headphones on and sink into “Incredible” best song on the album by far. Love all but 1 song. Sounds like a success to me. NE4Life

  12. Love the album. Buy it if haven’t already you won’t be disappointed.

  13. Nice album. The more I listen the more I like it. I kind of wish the recordings were a bit more crisps. There seems to be a bit of distortion that make the music a bit less enjoyable. I’m and old school rand b cat but love the vocal flow of BBD on this album. Good work fella. Best track…I’m betta. But all of the slow songs are well done.

  14. I’m loving incredible they’re vocals blend so well can’t tell need a video too see who is singing I know Ricky is leading but Ronnie and mike had lead as well I love it

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