LIVE: Bell Biv Devoe at Liv, DC


“Boyz to Men, ABC, BBD…the east coast family.”

In 1990, I was in the 10th grade, attending Lankenau High School, working at Foot Locker in the Cheltenham Mall back in Philly smelling myself HARD! Rocking a high top fade and every pair of new kicks that dropped before anybody could even buy ’em and blasting NOTHING but hip hop was my steez. Then out the clear blue sky I see this new video from this group Bell Biv DeVoe who were basically the outkasts of New Edition…you know the back up singers of the group that never amount to anything. The name of the song was “Poison” and it was R&B but it had this slick hip hop feel to it. And not some “new jack swing” hip hop feel (no dis to new jack swing either…I don’t need Wreckx N Effect givin me no eye jamie like they did Tip) hip hop, but a REAL hip hop feel to it. First thing first, they sampled Kool G Rap’s voice for the chorus of the song! The beat was sick and the stuff these dudes were saying?!?! “Never trust a big butt and a smile?!?!” “Me and the crew used to do her?!?!” Are these the same cats that were in New Edition?!?!?

And when their whole album dropped…it changed the whole scope of music. Cats give Puff all of this credit for meshing hip hop with R&B but BBD had Mr. Combs beat. These cats were getting production from the Bomb Squad! The freaking BOMB SQUAD!!!!! These dudes had Marley Marl remixing their singles! MARLEY MARL!!!!!! These were my kinda dudes! Cats talking about “smacking it up, flipping it and rubbing it down” AND getting beats from the Bomb Squad and Marley Marl?!?!? Yeah, I’m runnin with these cats.

Which is why 20 years later I’m up in Liv nightclub in DC hype as hell for an opportunity to see these cats rock live and in person. The funny thing is when I’m telling people I’m going to check BBD mad people were like “why?” And I’m like “word?” Cats forgot what BBD has done for the game and the hits they had? And hits last FOREVER cause when these cats came out and dropped “Dope”, it was like I was back in high school. These cats ran through ALL of BBD’s hits (“BBD I Though it Was Me” “Do Me” and “Poison”) as well as some of New Edition’s hits (“Cool it Now”, “Mr. Telephone Man” and “Candy Girl”) and TORE THE SPOT DOWN! But the highlight of the night for me was to see these dudes KILL one of my fav slow jams EVER “When Will I See Your Smile Again” and then freaking it into the classic New Edition jawn “Is This the End.” At the end of the day, it was dope to see these cats after 20 years to still be able to put on a great show. So if BBD slides through your neck of the woods anytime soon, don’t sleep on ’em, these cats STILL got it. Salute.