New Edition


Active Member
Jul 16, 2005
New Edition’s ‘Heart Break’ Turns 30 | An Anniversary Retrospective
June 18, 2018 Quentin Harrison

Happy 30th Anniversary to New Edition’s fifth studio album Heart Break, originally released June 20, 1988.

In late November 1986, the teen R&B vocal sensations New Edition released their fourth album, Under the Blue Moon. This collection was seminal for Ricky Bell, Ralph Tresvant, Ronnie DeVoe and Michael Bivins for several reasons. It was their first album without their firebrand fifth member Bobby Brown ousted the previous December, which made Under the Blue Moon the sole New Edition recording issued by them as a quartet. Further, excluding “Bring Back the Memories,” their fourth effort was an ambitious covers record paying homage to the male vocal rhythm and blues tradition of the 1950s and 1960s. In selecting material from the coveted canons of The Penguins (“Earth Angel”), Gene Chandler (“Duke of Earl”), Eddie Holman (“Hey There Lonely Girl”) and Little Anthony and The Imperials (“Tears On My Pillows”) New Edition made a bold bid for credibility.

Envisioned as the inaugural step toward the process of shedding the youthfulness of their first three long players, Under the Blue Moon worked better in theory than in practice. Woefully underproduced by Freddie Perren and Ric Wyatt Jr., the classic song pieces were clumsily retrofitted to the black pop and R&B of the period. In hindsight, had New Edition's management—an entity separate from their label MCA Records who handled their distribution—actually paired the young men with producers that understood the lush complexities of those classics, the possibilities could have been endless. Instead, the album was barely held aloft by the minor charting success of its single “Earth Angel.”

The silver lining in the failure of Under the Blue Moon was that it freed New Edition from their management deal with Jump & Shoot Productions. New Edition and MCA Records were now free to move forward together to much more promising endeavors. Still, there was friction between Bell, Tresvant, DeVoe and Bivins threatening to tank any opportunities afforded to them post-Jump & Shoot Productions. Tresvant, ready to strike out alone, left Bivins, Bell and DeVoe in a considerable lurch. They had no choice but to consider a replacement.

The dynamic Johnny Gill had gotten his start at 16 on the Cotillion Records subsidiary associated with the larger Atlantic Records family. Between 1983 and 1985, Gill recorded and released three albums for Cotillion, one of which—Perfect Combination (1984)—was a duets album with Stacy Lattisaw. Gill had the technical chops and a friendship with Bivins, Bell and DeVoe, which made him the ideal candidate. As negotiations were underway to bring Gill into the New Edition fold, the group had to quickly brainstorm how to resurface their sound. Enter James “Jam” Harris III and Terry Lewis.

Hailing from Minneapolis, Jam and Lewis had come a long way from towing the line for the Twin Cities favorite son, Prince, in his side project The Time. Beginning in 1982, Jam and Lewis began to write, arrange and produce singles—and albums—for the likes of Klymaxx, the S.O.S. Band, Change, Alexander O'Neal and Cherelle. Their union with Janet Jackson in 1986 on her third studio affair Control gave them not only a muse, but an enduring working relationship and friendship with the vocalist and songwriter. Additionally, that same year, Jam and Lewis stepped out into the wider pop world by taking on production duties for the British electronic outfit The Human League's fifth LP Crash.

New Edition were enthusiastic about Jam and Lewis' work history and the producers were equally as keen to oversee the planning and execution of New Edition's fifth album, Heart Break. The group would also contribute their own writing and co-production on select tracks too. As preparations for Heart Break got underway, Tresvant had come around to not only remaining with his longtime friends, but embracing Gill as well, returning the New Edition roster back to a quintet again.

New Edition, Jam and Lewis were all on the same page regarding the utilization of New Jack Swing as the primary musical template for Heart Break. The red hot mix of hip-hop beats, black dance rhythms and the irrepressible grooves and melodies of R&B were at the heart of the movement that exploded into existence a year before Heart Break was unleashed. Excluding the comical studio banter between the guys on a handful of skits, the remaining contents of the record rock with the booming sounds of the New Jack Swing method of the period. In particular, the now-iconic first single “If It Isn't Love,” with its militaristic drumroll and cadenced, clanging synth effects set against the handsome unison approach and Tresvant's standout lead vocal, got the party started with a bang.

The album itself opens proper with the crisp and breezy “That's the Way We're Livin'” where New Edition declares their position as one of the premier R&B powerhouses of their day and beyond. And with the support of sterling entries such as the soulfully coruscating “You're Not My Kind of Girl” and “Can You Stand the Rain”—balancing leads and/or prominent ad-libs from Tresvant, Gill and Bell—as evidence, it's hard to argue against the New Edition standard.

On these pieces, and elsewhere on Heart Break, New Edition darts thematically from romantic proclamations as heard on “Superlady” to swaggering statements of cool on “Where It All Started.” The latter motif gives its flashiest grin and wink on the funky “N.E. Heart Break.” Showcasing the braggadocious charm of Bivins and DeVoe's hip-hop fluency, this jam was the germ of the soon-to-be successful New Edition offshoot Bell Biv DeVoe that rose to prominence just two years later.

Issued to the public on June 20, 1988—the same release date, not coincidentally, as Bobby Brown’s sophomore MCA album Don’t Be CruelHeart Break accomplished critically and commercially what Under the Blue Moon had not: the reinvigoration of New Edition. The double platinum platter not only housed five hit singles, it served as the impetus for an expansive tour that cemented them as consummate showmen.

More than any record within their impressive canon, New Edition's Heart Break has served as a well of inspiration for others—musically and visually—with the likes of Boyz II Men (whose stage moniker was directly inspired by Heart Break’s closing track “Boys to Men”), Chris Brown, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars tapping it for their own art. Of more importance is that Heart Break demonstrated the effectiveness of their mature reset, ensuring brand longevity without abandoning the core identity of New Edition as a collective entity, united in their love for the art of singing.


Active Member
Jul 16, 2005
Where It All Started From: A 30th Anniversary Retrospective Of New Edition’s “Heart Break” & Bobby Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel”
On June 20th, 1988 New Jack Swing officially became the aesthetic default sound of R&B/Black music. Shortly afterwards, this very same sea change took over the Pop charts. Here’s how two albums made by the Boston Bad Boys and the Roxbury Rebels Of R&B forever changed the direction of music as a whole.

June 20th, 1988 was a landmark day for Black music as a whole. On this date, MCA Records released both Bobby Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel” & New Edition’s “Heart Break” the week after they dropped Guy’s self titled debut album. These two albums helped to forever change not only R&B/Soul/Black music as a whole but the entire landscape of the music industry simultaneously when added to a wave of incredible music that had already been released within the preceding months.

In order to fully understand why this date is culturally significant we must start at the beginning, with the day Bobby Brown was voted out of New Edition in December 1985 amidst mounting pressure from New Edition’s management & production team and the fallout surrounding it all.

At the top of 1986, Bobby Brown was glad to shed himself of New Edition’s squeaky clean image and choose other producers and songwriters other than Vincent Brantley, Rick Timas and Michael Sembello of Jump & Shoot Productions whom their management had recently installed as their musical team after Jheryl Busby of MCA Records went to Roxbury to see Bobby Brown and offered him a solo deal.

The group had discovered they were signed to Jump & Shoot Productions through a production deal by their management (AMI) instead of having a record deal directly with MCA while recording their self titled LP back in 1984 shortly after they won the case that secured their freedom from their old deal with Boston Funk All Star and in-house producer for Tommy Boy Records Arthur Baker’s Streetwise Records under producer/songwriter Maurice Starr of Boston Funk outfit Jonzun Crew.

New Edition released album after album, in hopes of amassing enough money to eventually buy their way out of their management & production contracts with Steven Machat and his partners Rick Smith and Bill Dern of AMI/Jump & Shoot. The hope was to become free agents, then negotiate a new deal directly with MCA Records. However, before that could happen, they had to endure another album under Jump & Shoot’s direction while Bobby Brown who had just signed a solo deal with MCA was free to make material more representative of where he was as an artist.

In early 1986 New Edition recorded a cover of the 50’s Doo Wop hit “Earth Angel” for the soundtrack to the sequel to “Karate Kid”. It was initially seen as a one off song before they began working on what would hopefully be their final record making music they weren’t proud of. “Karate Kid II” opened in theaters in North America on June 20, 1986 and the film became an instant hit.

Peter Cetera made the film’s main theme “For The Glory Of Love” which was a massive hit but New Edition’s cover of “Earth Angel” became a crossover hit, slightly missing Billboard’s Top 20 on the Hot 100 charts (stalled at #21). Unfortunately, the success of that song gave New Edition’s producers the idea to make their next LP a concept album full of covers of Doo Wop songs. Let me explain to you all why that was such a bad call at the time.

To put this rather horrible idea into its proper context, Janet Jackson was crushing the R&B/Soul and Pop charts with her new album “Control” as was Cameo with their album “Word Up!”. The Minneapolis Sound and a new brand of R&B that would soon be branded New Jack Swing was gaining favor thanks to Prince, Ready For The World plus the production of Full Force, Foster & McElroy, Nick Martinelli, Reginald & Vincent Calloway, Cameo’s Larry Blackmon and Flyte Tyme’s Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis was dominating the radio and the charts. This was not the time to go retro in the face of all this recent musical progression. The fellas might not ever recover if they put out a bad album right now.

Nevertheless, New Edition released “Under The Blue Moon” in October 1986 and the album barely managed to go Gold when their previous albums all exceeded Platinum and each had multiple hit singles. Outside of “Earth Angel” none of their singles fared well on the charts while the aesthetic of R&B was in flux.

Ralph Tresvant became increasingly disillusioned with the group and began to consider going solo as 1986 soon gave way to 1987. What’s even crazier (and more unfortunate) was on June 27th, 1986… the following week after “Karate Kid II” opened, New Edition recorded a single for the film “Running Scared” which had quite a successful soundtrack, the Freddie Perren produced “Once In A Lifetime Groove”. Since it never crossed over and only hit #10 on the Hot Black Singles charts and #9 on the Club/Dance charts AMI chose not to stick with this direction.

Meanwhile, Bobby Brown began recording his debut solo album for MCA Records. King Of Stage was released in December 1986 behind the lead single, “Girlfriend”. This ballad became Bobby Brown’s first solo hit, eventually peaking at #57 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts but reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot Black Singles charts.

His second single, the uptempo dance number “Girl Next Door”, was a minor hit (#31 Hot Black Singles) but his album failed to even go Gold. While Bobby Brown was a winner at the 1987 Boston Music Awards, he knew he had a long way to go before he was totally satisfied with the direction of his career.

Mike Bivins had the foresight to ensure the future of New Edition following them finally getting out of their old deal with Jump & Shoot Productions after their management team AMI’s firm disbanded, senior partner Steve Machat stepped down and the group opted to not continue to be managed by junior partners Rick Smith or Bill Dern.

They celebrated their newfound freedom by signing directly to MCA Records in Spring 1987. Ralph was considering a solo project like Bobby so Mike had a series of meetings with Johnny Gill both to fill Bobby’s vacant spot and to potentially become the group’s new lead singer in the event Ralph bolted after seeing him at a Whispers concert.

Next, the guys, MCA’s President Of Black Music Jheryl Busby signed Johnny Gill to a solo deal and asked Jam & Lewis to consider producing for him while he and Mike Bivins both always intended to put him in New Edition without telling either Jam & Lewis or the group’s handlers/management team.

Both Jheryl Busby and New Edition’s longtime choreographer/personal manager Brooke Payne agreed to bring in Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis to craft the sound of what was going to become their breakout album and shed their old boyhood image once and for all. Ralph Tresvant ultimately opted against pursuing a solo project due to encouragement from Mike Bivins and New Edition but Ralph didn’t even know Johnny Gill was going to join the group initially.

The test was when Jam & Lewis worked with New Edition for a song on the soundtrack for the 1987 film “Dragnet” called “Helplessly In Love” back when they were still a quartet pre-Johnny Gill. Between Jheryl Busby, New Edition & Jam & Lewis they decided to sit down and outline the possible direction and aesthetic for a full New Edition album. The foundation for what would eventually become “Heart Break” was laid right then and there.

In 1987, just one year removed from the abomination that was “Earth Angel” and the havoc it wreaked on their young careers, New Edition began work on their “Heart Break” LP in Minneapolis with Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis & co. at Flyte Tyme. Ralph Tresvant and Jam & Lewis alike were surprised when Johnny Gill arrived to begin work on the next New Edition album. It was a tense situation at first but Ralph was eventually sold on what Johnny could potentially bring to the group by Mike Bivins and Jam & Lewis.

At the same time, the guys were cleaning up their business issues and realized they each owed between $250,000 and $300,000 in back taxes so this album and the subsequent tour needed to be huge. Not only to reset their careers but dig them each out of a financial hole so they can pursue and continue any solo aspirations from a position of strength.

New Edition had been all but written off after their horrific last album in 1986. In 1987 people were jamming to Club Nouveau, Full Force, Jody Watley, LeVert, The System, Atlantic Starr, Alexander O’Neal, Terence Trent D’Arby, Cameo, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam and Keith Sweat throughout this time and they were slowly forgetting about New Edition. This was more than enough motivation for the Roxbury renegades of R&B to reclaim their thrones and once again change the game.

Bobby Brown regrouped from his disappointing debut album. He stayed in contact with members of New Edition even though he was voted out and he took stock in their progress on the comeback trail. In turn, Bobby decided to do the same. He soon enlisted the services of the songwriting/production team of L.A. Reid & Babyface.

They didn’t have any huge successes on the level that Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis previously enjoyed with Janet Jackson, Cherrelle or Alexander O’Neal but Bobby was going to help them change all of that. In October 1987, Bobby Brown, L.A. Reid, Babyface, Darryl Simmons, Gene Griffin, Larry White and Gordon Jones all began crafting the album that would change popular music forever.

Teddy Riley was just beginning his run on the charts when he did keyboard session work on “Don’t Be Cruel”. His breakout album with Keith Sweat “Make It Last Forever” dropped at the end of 1987 and marked a sea change in R&B/Soul music. Songs like “I Want Her”, “Something Just Ain’t Right” and “Don’t Stop Your Love” were soulful R&B but they also contained the high energy aesthetic of Rap music.

It was the natural youthful progression after Cameo’s Larry Blackmon laid the blueprint with his hits “Word Up”, “Candy & “Back And Forth” earlier that year. Next, Teddy Riley teamed up with Gene Griffin to form the group Guy who were also signed to MCA Records and were also recording around the same time Bobby Brown and New Edition were. It was a perfect storm.

In 1988, New Edition completed their comeback album “Heart Break”. In the time they’d been gone from the scene the entire game had changed. They knew they had to come out hard and knock everyone else out the box. Instead of trying to convince everyone they were grown up and hope to gain acceptance in a changing industry, they instead operated from a position of power. The addition of Johnny Gill changed everything. Once he overcame his Two Left Foot Syndrome and began learning Brooke Payne’s eight counts? The sky was the limit.

They were going to put together a comprehensive tour and bring the album to life in front of audiences all across the country so they could experience the new New Edition for themselves. Preparation for what was to become the 1988–89 Heart Break Tour began immediately. In fact, Jam & Lewis constructed New Edition songs very conscious of where dance breaks would go and mindful of how Brooke Payne would formulate choreography for each song. The album was made to be performed live, much like with Janet Jackson’s “Control” (which oddly enough, didn’t get a tour of its own).

Bobby Brown completed “Don’t Be Cruel” in April 1988. This might have been around the time Chris Rock was in the car with Al B. Sure! when they heard “Don’t Be Cruel” before it came out (fast forward to 38:45). His boys and labelmates New Edition were putting together their comeback tour and they reached out to Bobby to be part of it, as he was coming back to smash the game as well.

Bobby filmed the video for his album’s lead single “Don’t Be Cruel” in May 1988. New Edition released their lead single “If It Isn’t Love” near the end of the same month. It entered the regular Black radio rotation at the top of June and began its ascent immediately.

Al B. Sure! (who was an Uptown/MCA affiliate) was added to the bill of New Edition’s 1988 Heart Break Tour. His debut LP “In Effect Mode” was powered by the hit single “Nite And Day” and it would drop on Warner Bros. two weeks before Bobby Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel” hit the airwaves for the first time. In addition, Al B. Sure!’s album would only drop seven weeks before both Bobby Brown and New Edition’s albums were released on MCA in June 1988.

“Don’t Be Cruel” hit radio and began ganing more and more traction. The video first entered the rotation on BET, then the Billboard Hot Black Singles charts. Next, it crossed over to the Hot 100 then cracked regular rotation on MTV. Once the momentum built up enough, it became a runaway train.

Two weeks after Bobby Brown released “Don’t Be Cruel”, Al B. Sure’s second single “Off On Your Own (Girl)” dropped. Both songs steadily climbed the charts until “Don’t Be Cruel” hit #1 on the Hot Black Singles charts (July 23rd & July 30th, 1988). However, it was replaced at the top by his tourmate Al B. Sure!’s second single (August 6th & August 13th, 1988). During the time both songs were ascending the charts, New Edition was getting started nailing down the choreography for their upcoming videos and shows to build anticipation for their album and subsequent tour.

New Edition wouldn’t have much downtime to film videos on tour as it would serve to promote their album plus drive up sales throughout its duration once it officially started up on September 15th, 1988. If you remember correctly, most of the New Edition videos from “Heart Break” were centered around them either getting ready to go on tour (“If It Isn’t Love”), being on tour (“You’re Not My Kind Of Girl”), a live video from the Heart Break Tour (“Crucial”) then later the group coming home from touring (“N.E. Heart Break”) (the lone exception being “Can You Stand The Rain”). Execution had to be perfect and timing was crucial.

On June 20th, 1988 MCA Records released both Bobby Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel” powered by the hit lead single of the same name and New Edition’s “Heart Break”. To further hammer home how epic the Summer of 1988 was for Black music, the previous week MCA Records released Guy’s debut album, the week before that Atlantic Records released Troop’s debut album (which contained the hits “Mamacita”, “Still In Love” & “My Heart”) and keep we were less than two months removed from Al B. Sure! dropping “In Effect Mode”.

The hit songs at the time both albums were released were from Pebbles(“Mercedes Boy”, co-produced by Charlie Wilson & Pebbles ), Johnny Kemp(“Just Got Paid”, produced by Teddy Riley), “Groove Me” by Guy (also produced by Teddy Riley), Troop’s “Mamacita” (produced by Levert’s Eddie & Gerald Levert with Marc Gordon) and the debut single “Little Walter” by a group called Tony! Toni! Toné! who were produced by Foster & McElroy.

Competition in R&B was at its fiercest in 1988 but they were more than up to the task. The R&B/Soul/Black music charts were being dominated by George Michael, Keith Sweat, Prince, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Teena Marie, Rick James, Terence Trent D’Arby, Al B. Sure!, Johnny Kemp, Pebbles, Paula Abdul, Tony! Toni! Toné!, Guy, Sade, Jody Watley, Howard Hewett & Jesse Johnson amongst others. That’s one hell of a field of musicians & artists to contend with.

“Heart Break” went Gold in two months and Platinum only a month later thanks to the singles “If It Isn’t Love” and “You’re Not My Kind Of Girl”. The videos for both songs played on both BET and MTV. New Edition had crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100 & Billboard 200 charts but Bobby Brown completely obliterated them both.

The era these particular New Jack Swing themed R&B albums were released in was analogous to the First Golden Era Of Hip-Hop (1986–1989). The style, sound and aesthetic of Black music had changed but soon that would spread to Pop music as a whole. The catalyst behind this change was Bobby Brown. “Don’t Be Cruel” hit #1 on the Hot Black Singles chart then crossed over to the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, but that was only the beginning.

Bobby Brown’s second single “My Prerogative” not only hit #1 on the Hot Black Singles chart but it hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 as well. The Teddy Riley produced single was drenched in Blackness. The New Jack Swing sound, utter funkiness and the attitude and swagger of Hip-Hop were impossible to overlook or write off. “My Prerogative” was Blacker than smoking menthols while playing a two person game of Uno with your cousin Junebug during a BBQ a White woman just called the police on.

Before “My Prerogative” a Black R&B artist had to play it safe or release a song in the vein of Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie or Stevie Wonder’s later work to achieve crossover success. Bobby Brown did it essentially by telling everyone to kiss his ass and he’s going to do whatever the hell he feels like. The song ended up being the biggest song of 1988 and it knocked Poison’s “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” out of the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 at the top of 1989.

“Don’t Be Cruel” became a genre defining album, selling in excess of 5 million units by the close of 1989. No longer did Black artists have to play it safe or make songs like Lionel Richie’s “Hello”, Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called To Say I Love You” or Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy” to reach the top of the charts. Bobby Brown did it with Teddy Riley at 120 BPM while giving everyone the middle finger.

Bobby then released the ballad “Roni” at the end of 1988 which rose all the way to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1989. Bobby Brown had been grinding on people’s daughters in the front row since 1983 but now no one’s daughters were safe because he was now the biggest star in all of popular music not named Michael Jackson or Prince.

New Edition’s “Heart Break” album went 2x Platinum worldwide by the close of the 1988–89 Heart Break Tour and spawned five hit singles (“If It Isn’t Love”, “Not My Kinda Girl”, “Can You Stand The Rain”, “Crucial” & “N.E. Heart Break”). Bobby Brown also had five hit singles off “Don’t Be Cruel” (“Don’t Be Cruel”, “My Prerogative”, “Roni”, “Every Little Step” & “Rock Wit’cha”) but it should be pointed out that Bobby had an additional hit from the “Ghostbusters II” soundtrack “On Our Own” that reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 to bring the total to 6 overall.

Bobby Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel” was so huge worldwide that after the 1988–89 Heart Break Tour ended in February 1989, he immediately had to plan the launch of another 120 date worldwide tour that ran from 1989 into 1990 called the Bobby Brown World Tour. Eventually, Bobby had to cancel a gang of dates due to overwork and exhaustion in July 1989. Demand for him was so high for him that in the span between September 1988 (the start of the Heart Break Tour) and June 1989 he’d performed in 160 shows. That’s approximately 20 shows a month factoring in travel & next to no downtime/rest. That’s a sure recipe for burnout if I’ve ever seen one…

The 1988–89 Heart Break Tour was also beneficial to Al B. Sure! who racked up five hit singles (“Nite And Day”, “Off On Your Own (Girl)”, “Killing Me Softly”, “Rescue Me” and “If I’m Not Your Lover”) and multiplatinum sales throughout the duration of its run. New Edition was finally able to rest on their laurels a little bit. Their tour plan worked to perfection and turned out to be a kingmaker. Bobby Brown had become such a superstar between September 1988 and February 1989 that on the second half of the Heart Break Tour they needed to change the set order entirely.

The original performance order was Bobby Brown was the opener, Al B. Sure! had the middle set and New Edition were the closers. The new proposed order was Al B. Sure! as the opening act, then Bobby Brown with an extended set followed by New Edition as the closers. The compromise was the new openers would be Al B. Sure!’s group/backup singers, The Gyrlz. Then came Al B. Sure!’s set, followed by Bobby Brown then New Edition in the final slot.

Bobby Brown gambled on L.A. Reid & Babyface, who at the time they began working together didn’t have any big crossover hits to their credit, but ended 1990 with a phenomenal run of mainstream success that would in time become legendary. New Edition also became the gold standard for every young, touring, business savvy R&B group as well as the most influential young R&B group in the game.

Michael Bivins (who initially got this whole ball rolling back in 1987) would become one of the most influential young music executives in the game. Shortly after the 1988–89 Heart Break Tour ended, Mike Bivins, Ricky Bell and Ronnie DeVoe would begin work on yet another landmark R&B album to be released on MCA in 1990 called Poison” under the name Bell Biv DeVoe after some encouragement from Jam & Lewis.

By June 1990, Bell Biv Devoe also became Platinum with two huge crossover Billboard hits in “Poison” and ‘Do Me!” that would take what Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative” did the year before to another level entirely. Leave it to some cats from Boston to bring bluntless & being bold in vogue. Not only that but this album also crossed over while being Blacker than not trusting potato salad made by White folks.

In only two short years time, Boston artists (Bobby Brown, New Edition & Bell Biv DeVoe) had completely changed both R&B/Soul and Pop music forever at a time when competition in the space of Black music was at its fiercest which bled into other genres of music.

In conclusion, 30 years ago not one but two albums were released that forever changed the music industry through sound, aesthetic, performance, style and overall influence. Without New Edition, there is no Boyz II Men. Without New Edition, there is no New Kids On The Block thus no boy band formula and no subsequent boy bands like Backstreet Boys, N*Sync, 98 Degrees, etc.

Without Bobby Brown, there is no Usher. Without Bell Biv Devoe what would Jodeci have sounded like? Without Mike Bivins and his pioneering success in scouting, signing & developing talent both in production (Dallas Austin & Rico Anderson) and performance with Biv Entertainment/Motown & Biv 10 Records does Puffy Combs still find the inspiration to launch Bad Boy after Andre Harrell let him go from his A&R position at Uptown/MCA? Biv was the ORIGINAL executive producer all up in the videos if you didn’t know. Check the second verse!

The individual Platinum sales of Bobby Brown, Bell Biv DeVoe, Johnny Gill & Ralph Tresvant following “Heart Break” and “Don’t Be Cruel” being released 30 years ago today are a lasting testament to the greatness of the feats they accomplished. Five Boston cats from Roxbury ultimately changed the music industry forever. I know we all saw “The New Edition Story” miniseries together as a family on BET and I can expect the same when BET runs “The Bobby Brown Story” on September 4th, 2018. Just know there are so many more stories that can be told from Boston and best believe Roxbury is where it all started from.


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