"If you are under 25 or were literally raised in a barn on a combine, you may have missed out on the whole “gangsta R&B” thing that took the mid ’90s by storm. As much as people want to canonize R. Kelly for his perverse antics over the last few years, everyone forgets that he coerced a 15-year-old (who out of respect to her memory will remain nameless, but you know who I mean) into running off and marrying him. If you listen to any of the remixes from that time period, it sounds like a soundtrack to a Black Cheerleaders VHS tape.
On the other side of that, you have Jodeci. These dudes were the real deal as far as savages go. The two sets of relatives met because of a girl that they were trying to kill each other over. After remembering that they were all church-going young men and then deciding that it’s about bros before hoes at all times, they decide to form a singing group. K-Ci and Jojo were the main singers, Devante was the producer with the deep voice and Dalvin was the rapper who would secretly write lyrics for everyone else and kick a sweltering seven bars of sexual rap fire every five or six songs.
They got signed to Uptown by a young Diddy (then known as Sean Combs) and were originally touted as a Boyz 2 Men analogue. This all switched after their sophomore record, Diary of a Mad Band, dropped. Their swagger rating (there was no such thing as swagger back then, people would just call you a pimp) was in the ontic sphere and everyone wanted to either be them, fuck them or somewhere in between.
Fuck the fact that the dudes looked like a gaggle of gargoyles and ghouls, they could sing their black asses off. The record came with all sorts of controversy that would now be on TMZ: their drinking and drug use, Devante pulling a machine gun on a girl because she wouldn’t let him have sex with him at his house, them switching managers to Suge Knight at the height of the East Coast/West Coast beef, etc. This all set the stage for their third opus The Party, The After-Party and The Hotel, which was a masterpiece in fuck music. They further cemented themselves into ghetto lore by doing a X-rated video for the 2-Pac song “How Do You Want It” and featuring on all sorts of songs with the motley crew that made up Death Row records in the mid ’90s.
By this time, Jodeci was a unanimous win for the “Only R&B Group That People Actively Gang-Banging Past 32 Years Old Still Have Sex To” award. You heard them in the background on rap records and if you were lucky and really, really observant, you may even hear them coming out of stereo systems in the late-night hours as nefarious dudes were on the creep.
They were truly ghetto superstars who made themselves untouchable with every underhanded alliance they built. When Timbaland, Missy Elliot and Ginuwine came out of thin air in ‘96-’97, more jaws dropped as everyone found out that these were Jodeci’s ghost co-writers and producers for the past couple of records. This only made them MORE MONEY, since they were now looked at as a bunch of black svengalis with gangster ties.
I guess this did nothing for their excessive lifestyles because as the new millennium came in, they went out with a quickness. K-Ci and Jojo dropped a couple of records, Devante did secret production and Dalvin just vanished into a place out of time and space. Fast forward a few years and check out K-Ci and Jojo on stage in Australia in what was originally supposed to be a Jodeci reunion:
Of course people said crack, but these dudes would have sold their passports for a rock or two, so it must not have been that. This brings us back to the trailer for the reality show above. These dudes are getting injections, looking old as hell and basically melting down on camera. While this may have worked for Bobby and Whitney’s whole Hollywood rehab and career re-launch, these dudes are all kinds of S.O.L. in 2010. When you have a cigar wielding mandarin dragon asking you whether you are going to make a record for him or not interspersed with scenes of church and black men going through the throes of substance addiction, you know that you are usually in for some entertainment.
All this does is make me feel really bad. Like I stole $10 from my sick mom to buy weed and the bag I bought was full of oregano and twigs."