Let’s get right to it… New Edition is the best R&B group of all time and there’s not a close second… truth be told only their predecessors in the Jackson 5 and Temptations can be given consideration… and NOBODY that came after is even in the same stratosphere… just look at those Soul Train live performances if there’s even any doubt. Those kids from Roxbury are incredible, and what’s even more impressive is that they grew up in the industry and maintained their relevance for over 30 years, evolving from child stars to some of the most respected performers in the history of music.
By now I hope everyone has seen the BET special, which to their credit they really did well in every way, as to date it’s the best music biopic to ever come out and that’s including all the ones that’ve hit the theatre. Of course what helped their cause is that they had 6 hours to work with, and with New Edition’s story they needed every minute, especially when putting an emphasis on the music - a catalogue of music (both solo and collaborative) that once again is unmatched by any of their peers.
Sure enough they put out classic material year after year after year, and some of their greatest hits came when they expanded beyond the New Edition mothership, most notably the smash hit Poison performed by Ronnie, Ricky & Mike for their spinoff group Bell Biv Devoe. It goes without saying that Poison today is one of the most recognizable records at any event or ceremony you can think of, and as noted in the biopic it’s all the more special considering at the time BBD was considered to be little more than backup dancers. That of course was never true and the perception of that soon changed, and now more than 25 years since their debut their performance is still coveted to this day.
Although the likes of New Edition deserve a far more lengthy introduction, and in the spirit of the music I might write a book about them one day, it’s only right that we get into their new material - which not surprisingly has gotten overlooked in the height of all the nostalgia and hysteria.
Thus without further ado BBD just released their fourth album (first in over 15 years) entitled Three Stripes =, and even with age the music’s still good and Ronnie, Ricky & Mike haven’t even lost a step. Three Stripes = is critiqued track by track below:
Ready ft Doug E Fresh
“Ladies and gentlemen I wanna introduce to you my brothers, they go by the names of, Ronnie, Mike, Ricky, BBD, y'all” In this short but effective intro Harlem legend Doug E Fresh sets the tone with his patented style, and honestly due to the legacies involved it’s the appropriate introduction.
Find A Way
“So you can stay here with your chicks, or take the risk and be a lover in my bio-pic, what one you pick huh” Decent record with energy but not a standout… I didn’t enjoy this at all at first but recently it’s somewhat grown on me, I’m not mad at this...
“You don't gots to cry no more, baby, you don't gots to hurt no more…” The second single off the album got the video treatment and is a nice uptempo record with BBD’s signature sound.
“For BBD, girl back it up, do it on a cam, let me set it up, and I'm a give you highlights... highlights… hot damn…” Overall a decent track for radio… not mad at this
“Every time I buy you things, you play the game, you run-run-run and you run-run” The first single was released last September and it’s apparently produced by Erick Sermon from EPMD fame, all the while sampling BIG’s Hypnotize record, and from start to finish it’s executed really well.
All Dat There
"What you gonna do with all that there... all that there..." The smoothest cut off the album that should have been the second single and deserves far more attention. Don’t overlook this one any longer.
“We’d be foolish if we go astray, would be a disrespect to all that we’ve been through” Not a bad cut but along with Find A Way it’s the only debatable filler on here. Ultimately it’s not their best work.
Finally ft SWV
“When you finally get it right, finally get it right…” In what seems to be their first ever collaboration, BBD teams up with SWV for another smooth heater similar to their record with Boys II Men below.
One More Try ft Boyz II Men
“Are you willing, to give it one more try…” Mike Bivins recruits his superstar proteges Boyz II Men for this smooth uptempo jam that’s right on time. It’s nice to hear Ricky trade verses with the likes of Nathan, Shawn, & Wanya and this is definitely a nice surprise for 2017 that nobody was expecting.
“Oh, I know you don't believe it, but I'ma help you to see it, your incredible… incredible” And the music is no different, the SWV, BoyzIIMen, and outro record is a 3 song run that on the lowest of keys is some of the best R&B to come out this year.
Overall it goes without saying that BBD delivered once again, as just like they told us before the music is ‘Mentally Hip Hop, Smoothed Out On The R&B Tip, With A Pop Feel Appeal To It’ and 30+ years later the quality of the music hasn’t diminished at all. First and foremost Mike & Ron should be legitimately be considered two of the best MCs from the surrounding Boston area period, as their raps infused with Ricky’s melodies (and previously Ralph, Bobby, & Johnny’s) probably never got enough credit in the world of Hip Hop. Furthermore Ricky aka Slick can really sing (or blow as Mike likes to say) and to see him take the lead after playing the background all those years is more than well deserved.
Nonetheless the real story is that New Edition as a whole is back together like they never left, and during an iconic BET tribute performance (one of many at this point), they announced that the New Edition Tour is soon coming to a city near you…
Buy your tickets for what will likely be the last time to see the greatest R&B group that was ever assembled.