What Ever Happened to: 3T

I overheard a convo a few weeks ago that basically proclaimed Jay Z and Beyonce’s kids – Blue Ivy, Sir and Rumi – automatic superstars simply because of their family’s DNA. In 15 years, she said, all three would be topping the charts.

Slow your roll, sista. At least let ’em learn how to use the potty before you start shoving Grammy in their hands.

Besides, no matter how talented they may be, when your parents are superstars success isn’t always certain.

Just ask 3T, a group destined to be THE NEW JACKSON FIVE THREE.

What ever happened to those guys? I’m glad you asked.

Toriano Adaryll Jackson Jr. (aka Taj), Tito Joe Jackson (aka TJ) and Taryll Adren Jackson (aka, um Taryll) are descendants of music royalty. Grandsons of Katherine and Joe, sons of Tito and nephews of Janet and Michael, they were pretty much fated from birth to be part of the music industry.

The Three T’s – as their mother Delores “Dee Dee” Martes Jackson called ’em – grew up imitating their famous family members, from singing around the house to using mops and brooms as instruments.

I used to do the same thing. Expect I’m sure I looked way more stupid doing it.

Sadly, not long before releasing their first official project, tragedy struck. Dee Dee, now divorced from Tito, was found dead in her boyfriend Don Bohana’s pool in 1994. Though first ruled an accidental drowning, it was later ruled a homicide after prosecutors successfully argued that Dee Dee had been beaten. Bohana was found guilty of second-degree murder in 1998. He has loudly proclaimed innocence and has spend decades trying to fight the conviction.

While people are still trying to sort through the truth 30 years later, one fact remains – three boys grew up without their loving mother. It’s heartbreaking.

brotherhood

In 1995, The Three T’s – now 3T – channeled that tragedy into their music under the watchful eye of Uncle MJ. Michael signed them to his label MJJ Music, wrote songs and served as executive producer for their debut album, Brotherhood.

If you weren’t around in 95, I can’t express how BIG of a deal this was. It was essentially the greatest of all time saying that we’ve got three future GOATS coming down the line.

We were getting THREE Michael Jacksons for the price of one!

And speaking of three for one, I know they’re related it always freaked me out how similar 3T looked to Michael. X-Men fans will feel me – it was like 3T was the R&B version of the Frost Triplets.

frost triplets

3T went hard right outta the gate with “Anything,” one of those warm ’90s ballads went extinct around the time y’all started calling Kanye West a soul singer.  It became a gold-selling hit, climbing up to No. 15 on Billboard and becoming the group’s signature hit.

The only complaint with the track was that it sounded a little TOO much like Michael – a problem that would haunt them down the road.

And the singles kept dripping nonstop like a Jackson jheri curl – the super-sexy “Tease Me,” the midtempo groove of “24/7,” and the ultra-goofy “Gotta Be You” soon followed.

The boys broke out the R&B PAJAMAS for “I Need You,” and if  you were around in the mid 90s, you’ve seen the R&B Jammies a time or two in the past.

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TLC had the whole set.

Arguably, 3T’s most memorable song was “Why” featuring Michael Jackson himself. Getting a new MJ video was always a huge deal so this was one got a lot of attention.

While most of the singles didn’t see much action in the US (y’all slept on “Tease Me”), Brotherhood would go on to be a modest hit, thanks to “Anything” and the buzz around “Why.” The album itself was OK – the ballads were solid but the other tracks were a mixed bag. The biggest struggle was that the guys sounded SO MUCH like MJ vocally that it was hard not to compare their material to him.

It’s one thing to come from the Jackson family, but when you also sound like the greatest, people also expect your material to be Thriller ’95: Electric Boogaloo. Michael himself could never top his 80s material, so these guys were doomed from jump. Escaping that massive shadow was impossible.

Though their success in stateside was limited, 3T found a lot of love overseas and spent the next few years touring in Europe and doing a little songwriting for various soundtracks.

identity

In 2004, the boys were back at it, releasing their sophomore set Identity. It was led by “Stuck on You,” a cover of Lionel Richie’s hit. I wasn’t moved by it at all in ’04, but listening to it today it sounds like more in line with R&pop sound that saturates Top 40 playlists today.

Second single “Sex Appeal” sounded much more timely for the era, coming off like a watered-down Neptunes track. I could see it doing fairly well with a little more promotion, but that didn’t happen.

Besides I’m WAY more entertained by the video, which look like the Playstation 1 version of Ocean’s Eleven. I mean, it beats sitting on a spinning piano in your pajamas. Neither single, nor the album, would chart in the U.S.

However, greater tragedy struck years later when 3T lost Uncle Michael in 2009. After being under the radar for what seemed like decades, 3T became a little more visible, performing various tributes to their uncle. And in 2012, a judge awarded TJ and grandmother Katherine co-guardianship of MJ’s kids Paris, Prince and Blanket. About a year ago, Katherine stepped down from her role, leaving TJ as sole guardian of Blanket now that Paris and Prince are adults.

chapter III

With all the Jackson family drama swirling, it’s easily to overlook the music. But 3T stayed on their grind. In 2015, they dropped “The Power of Love,” a tribute to their mom. It would also wind up on their third album, Chapter III, which dropped that same year. The cool thing about Chapter III is that the guys seemed to have found their own voice. Hints of that Jackson sound still resound, but they no longer sound like MJ clones.

Should They Come Back?: With the last name “Jackson” and R&B’s landscape being pretty barren, it’s no doubt that a 3T comeback would grab headlines. I’m just not sure they NEED to come back with a new album. Last I heard, Taj was delving into movies, TJ had his sights set on performing in musicals and Taryll was readying a solo debut.

But if they do decide to return, tell ’em to leave the silk pajamas at the crib.

Visit our “What Ever Happened to…” archive for more on your favorite forgotten artists

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