Tuesday, November 25, 2008

There Was No Reason for Any Member of 112 to go Solo

Not musically, at least.

I debated about even posting this, as 112 hasn't been hot in quite some time, and I thought more than a few people might find themselves googling the group before reading this. If you need a refresher course, go here, here, and definitely here, and you'll see why 112 was easily one of the best male R&B groups to surface in the 90s. Though they were never as popular as Boyz II Men in their heyday, for a group that spent almost a decade on the Bad Boy roster, they did pretty well for themselves. I mean, Diddy can't even get a hit on that label. That being said, the group probably peaked sometime around 2001 with Peaches & Cream, but even at their commercial and creative low, they were better than their Making the Band replacement any day.

So imagine my surprise at hearing a solo single from one of the group's lead singers, Q, floating around online. Though I managed to convince myself that the track was just a random occurrence, something one of the boys was doing in their spare time between recording with the group, soon other tracks began to surface from other members, and the next thing I know I'm watching another 112 alum, Slim, in his own music video, promoting his solo album. What the hell?

This is all wrong, for so many reasons.

First, how many of you can put faces to the names I referenced above? Exactly. No one knows 112 individually. That was true even at their peak, and now that the group's recognition has waned in recent years, it's even less reasonable to think that anyone will be able to reference their solo efforts back to their group success. Slim might have the benefit of possessing the most easily recognizable voice in the group, but the rest of the guys…not so much. And even when you hear Slim's new single, So Fly, chance are you're going to first assume that 112 is on the comeback trail.

That brings me to my second concern: even if you know who's singing, you'll wonder why they're singing alone. Nothing on Slim's new album, Love's Crazy, and nothing that I've heard from Q is anything different than they could have done with 112. In fact, it all could have been better with the rest of the boys. What made Slim's voice stand out in 112, a nasally falsetto-based wine, treads dangerously close to annoying during the course of his solo album, and Q just doesn't bring anything exceedingly interesting to the table at all. What's worse is that the material isn't even bad. Slim's album contains what is arguably some of the most solid R&B material released this year, but suffers from lackluster, play-by-the-numbers delivery. 112 had the ability to carry their pitch-perfect harmonies seamlessly from the dance floor to the bedroom, and Slim just can't make that transition alone. And really, what's the point of trying it on your own if you're only going to expose your shortcomings without offering anything new to compensate for them?

It made sense for Beyonce and Justin Timberlake to go solo, for obvious reasons. Bobby Brown didn't flourish until after he'd left New Edition, and Babyface held it down post The Deele. But just like T-Boz had no business touching herself (though that remix was hot), and Sisqo should have avoided unleashing the dragon, Slim, Q, and the rest of 112 needs to hug it out, and make it work.

But just in case they don't, check out Slim's album, because even the absence of 112 is better than the presence of most of the other shit on the radio right now.

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