Perhaps the greatest R&B group of the modern era, Boyz II Men, dominated the 90s with record-breaking hits and life changing melodies. As successful as BIIM’s debut album CooleyHighHarmony was, it was their sophomore offering that set the bar higher for R&B. SoulTrain.com examines one of the most critically acclaimed, commercially successful albums that changed the face of R&B.
The year was June of 1994. One of music’s most popular R&B groups was coming off of a 9 times platinum debut album, in addition to a massive hit single, “End Of The Road,” from the Boomerang soundtrack. The scene was set perfectly for Boyz II Men’s sophomore album. The group, first discovered by New Edition/BBD’s Michael Bivins, had been diligently working on the project since December of 1993 and had begun promotion on the release of the album’s first single, “I’ll Make Love To You.” When the song was released in July, it spread like wild fire. It was the perfect set up for the now legendary album, II. What made this album so essential to the success of R&B was the switch in the genre’s directions. The 80s were filled with big ballads from artists such as Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Keith Washington, and more. Towards the end of the decade, however, hip-hop began to swell on urban radio. The edgy music and attitude began to import itself into R&B via New Jack Swing and artists such as Guy, Keith Sweat, and Christopher Williams. There was a feeling that, though hip-hop was welcomed, it may eventually take over urban radio and there would be no room for classic R&B. New Jack Swing evolved into hip-hop soul via acts like Mary J Blige, and Boyz II Men’s genre rivals Jodeci. It was definitely an exciting time for R&B, but an unpredictable one nonetheless.
With the release of II, Boyz II Men showed that the classic R&B format was here to stay. Now while the credit can’t be solely laid on the Philly quartet, the album did break numerous records, and inspired the mid-90s boom of R&B groups such as 112, Next, Az Yet, Dru Hill, Jagged Edge, and many more. The sophomore set went on to sell 12 million albums, win 2 Grammy Awards, and spawned hit singles such as “On Bended Knee,” “Water Runs Dry,” and “Thank You.” Boyz II Men have released 8 studio albums since their sophomore project, but fans and the industry will always mark the release of II as their game changer.
Nick Eden is a singer/songwriter/R&B junkie based out of Atlanta, GA. He is a winner of the Steve Harvey New Star Project and appeared on Season 1 of BET/Centric’s Apollo Live. His new EP “From Nick Eden With Love” will be available on iTunes 2/14/14. Follow him on Twitter @nickeden and on Facebook.