The Rise And Fall Of Jodeci — Will They Rise Again?

5/9/2013

THIS MONTH marks 22-years since the release of Jodeci's debut album Forever My Lady. However, it has been since 1995 that fans have been starving for new material from the most influential R&B groups of the 1990's. This article discusses the impact of Jodeci's music, their decline, and their attempt to rekindle the success they once enjoyed.

THE RISE...
It all started in 1990. A song was released by Hip Hop newcomer Father MC called Treat Them Like They Want To Be Treated. What made the song especially good was the background vocals sung by then four unknown guys (Devante, Mr. Dalvin, K-Ci and JoJo) collectively known as Jodeci.

When I say that Jodeci was the ORIGINAL bad boys of R&B, believe me that is no lie. Their music and style have been influential from the time of they first stepped on the scene down to this day. Before Jodeci, R&B groups mainly rocked he same outfits, mainly suits. But when Jodeci hit the scene, they were trend-setters with their style of dress.  Although Jodeci was an R&B group, their fashion resembled more Hip Hop than traditional R&B, which related to the fashion style in urban neighborhoods. Since that time, most R&B groups have been a reflection of Jodeci’s image in one way or another.

Jodeci‘s music was right in harmony with their image—urban, very urban. The content of their songs was easily identifiable to many of the urban youths at the time. Songs like Forever My Lady, Stay, Come and Talk To Me from Jodeci’s debut album were songs that men, especially young Black men, could easily relate to. Over the next few years, as Jodeci's audience matured, their music would mature as well. With songs like, Cry For You, Alone, Freek'n You and Love U 4 Life, Jodeci continued to have a keen sense of awareness of what their fans wanted and needed to hear from them. However, The Show The After-Party The Hotel, their third album released in 1995, would be Jodeci's last album to date.

Let me pause for a moment to say that I have been a huge Jodeci fan from day one. They are my favorite R&B group. In the 90's, I collected all sorts of Jodeci memorabilia, including CD Maxi-Singles, posters, etc.

I also had the distinct pleasure of meeting Jodeci in 1993 when I worked at Regan National Airport. They were in town (Washington, DC) promoting their soon-to-be-released sophomore album Diary Of A Mad Band.

It was a dream come true for me. We talked for about 20 minutes or so. The guys were very cool, humble and laid back. I could not ask for a better first impression from a group of guys who were sitting on top of the music world. And they, on the other hand, were impressed that I knew so much about them and their road to success. I will never forget that day or them. My only regret is that I wish camera phones existed at that time so that I could have taken a picture with them. Regular cameras were not allowed on the job.

THE FALL...

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Through the years, Jodeci's image and sound have been often imitated by groups such as Dru Hill, Jagged Edge, as well as a host of other R&B groups who have since come and gone. Jodeci's presence was so impactful that there are many children, perhaps adults now, in the world named Jodeci! I dare you to find someone named Jodeci born before 1990! (Go ahead. I'll wait! *in my Katt Williams voice*) For Jodeci fans, though, NOTHING beats the real thing. It has been 18 LONG years since they released their last album. Yes, we have been "Feenin'" for Jodeci for a very long time. But is that still the case?

In 2001, Jodeci made a notable appearance at the 1st Annual BET Awards. It was the first time that they had been seen together in a televised setting in years. As a fan, it was great to see them together again. Mr. Dalvin even proclaimed that a new Jodeci album would be released the following year, which really got fans excited. Even Jodeci seemed to be excited to be on stage again as a group. However, the reunion wouldn't be the only thing viewers would be talking about the next day. Rather, the discussions would center around Dev ante's erratic behavior and appearance. He seemed to be liquored-up or very high when he was on stage. In addition, he wore odd-looking shoes and he had some kind of perm, a bad perm at that (see the video below).

Sadly, from that moment on, it seems like the lives of the members of my favorite group have been spiraling out of control. The coolest group EVER, is now being portrayed as anything but cool. Each member seems to be a shell of his former self. Devante got a face tattoo, and in 2010, he can be seen wasted and falling down in a Subway sandwich shop. While K-Ci & JoJo successfully released albums apart from Jodeci, in recent years they have made several public appearances wasted from drugs and alcohol. They even had a show called K-Ci & JoJo Come Clean, which showed the brothers trying to kick their drug and alcohol habits and take back their music careers. Mr. Dalvin has been the one member that has managed to stay under the radar for the most part, but in the last few years, every time you see him, he is pretty much covered up trying to hide his face for some odd reason. He often wears shades, a hat and/or a hoodie. In the 90's, this was a guy who could not keep his shirt on. Not to mention, he was always showing his face for the camera. Most recently, Mr. Dalvin was seen nearly killing himself by falling off the stage at a concert in London. Sadly, years of drug and alcohol abuse have taken its toll on the group's performance as well. They don't sound anything like they used to. Perhaps some of it will get better as they continue to perform, but no doubt they will need clean up their act so as not to disappoint their fans.

RISE AGAIN...

Seeing Jodeci in its current state is like seeing a family member that you care about wasting away in front of you because of addiction. You just hope that they do something to help their condition before it's too late. We all (fans) care about Jodeci. I think it's safe to say that we'd rather see the group take time away from the studio and stage and rehabilitate their image, personal lives and careers. Personally, I'd rather not see or hear new music from the group right now, unless it is unreleased music from their previous albums. This is because all we have, as fans, to hold onto are the fond memories of one of the greatest and baddest R&B groups of all-time. That's not something I want to see diminished.

My brothers, PLEASE get yourselves together and come back stronger than ever for the sake of yourselves, your family, your music and YOUR FANS.

Mr. Dalvin Falls Off Stage during a recent concert in London
K-Ci & JoJo Come Clean (Sneak Peek courtesy TVOne)
Devante is trashed at a local Subway; then arrested
Jodeci makes an appearance at the 1st Annual BET Awards in 2001
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