Jodeci (Jō'-dě-sē), also known as The Bad Boys of R&B, is an American R&B quartet. Possessed with a singing style that integrates R&B, soul, gospel and new jack swing genres; they enjoyed chart-topping success during the early to mid 90's hip hop scene. Jodeci consists of two sets of brothers, Cedric and Joel Hailey of Charlotte, North Carolina and Donald and Dalvin DeGrate of Hampton, Virginia; the group's name is a combination of the names from all four members (Jo-De-Ci). Fusing the feisty vocals of the Haileys', joined with the DeGrates' production-musical genius, earned the group three multiplatinum albums until their departure into occasional obscurity, lasting from 1996 to 2014. The Hailey brothers have also performed together as the duo, K-Ci & JoJo, to greater acclaim and further chart success.
1983–1991: Formation and Beginnings
Rooted in a strong religious Pentecostal family, the Haileys - then known as "Little Cedric & the Hailey Singers" - originally performed and recorded as a gospel group, releasing three albums ("Jesus Saves", "I'm Alright Now", and "God's Blessings"). "Folks down South used to call K-Ci, the Michael Jackson of gospel". Separately, the DeGrates performed and toured in their own family's gospel group. The Haileys and the DeGrates made acquaintance through relationships the members were in at the time. In a 2011 interview, Dalvin remembered, "there was this girl gospel group called UNITY and then the Don DeGrate Delegation, which Devante and I played in. So we met some of the girls from UNITY and their names were Barbara Jean and Poo-Poo... Well, Poo-Poo was dating K-Ci before we even met. Barbara Jean would always tell us that we need to meet K-Ci and Jojo." A short time after meeting, the brothers started living together, and soon after formed the singing act.
At 16 years of age, group founder DeVante Swing ran away from his home in Charlotte, North Carolina, en route to Minneapolis, Minnesota's, Paisley Park Studio's, to audition with the legendary musician, Prince. "I was up at Paisley Park every day begging for a job, asking people to listen to my tape. The receptionist kept saying she couldn't help me". The rejection from Prince motivated DeVante; "...So I took my ass right back to Charlotte, N.C. I wrote a song about a girl I liked..." Upon arriving back to Charlotte, North Carolina, DeVante continued to record with the Hailey brothers, eventually forming Jodeci.
With only $300, the members drove to New York City with a 29 song, 3 tape demo, anticipating a signing deal with Uptown Records. Upon arriving to New York, and without the knowledge of the whereabouts of MCA's subsidiary Uptown Records, the group grabbed a phone book to find the company's address, located on Clinton Street in Brooklyn. DeVante later recalled, "We didn't have an appointment, I didn't even know who Andre Harrell was, but I knew what Uptown was, and I wanted us to be there." They entered the company, initially being denied an audition until Uptown Records CEO, Andre Harrell, was summoned in to hear the demo. In skepticism of the high quality production, Harrell requested the group to perform. Jeff Redd recalls, "We went to the office that they were in, and Andre asked them to sing again. When they did, we were all blown away." Mr. Dalvin remembered, "We sung 'Come and Talk to Me' and 'I'm Still Waiting' to him live." Hip hop artist and record producer Heavy D overheard the performance and consulted Harrell. Dalvin reminisced, "The next thing we knew he was taking us out to dinner and he signed us to a deal that same day. It was pretty cool."
Jodeci was assigned to Uptown's, then intern, Sean "Puffy" Combs, who took on the task of developing the new act. Counteracting the refined style of acts like Milli Vanilli and Boyz II Men, Sean Combs developed the group's "Bad Boy" image by perpetuating the hip-hop fashion (baseball caps and Timberland boots) the group is known for. Harrell told Combs, "Dress Jodeci the same way you dress in the office." The group was introduced by singing background vocals for rapper Father MC, on the song "Treat Them Like They Want to Be Treated". Jodeci made their live performance debut on the June 11, 1991 episode of Soul Train.
1990–1995: Forever My Lady, Diary of a Mad Band, and The Show, the After Party, the Hotel
Landing a recording deal in 1991, the group released their debut album Forever My Lady that same year. Writer Ronin Ro maintained, "They no longer resembled gospel singers... Puffy also asked them to build their mystique by posing for photos with their backs to the camera, which he borrowed from Guy's stage show." The album's seductive energy showcased DeVante's songwriting, establishing a uniqueness in his production that mixed old-fashioned soul singing with New Jack Swing, creating a production of great boldness. It featured the number 1 R&B singles "Forever My Lady," "Stay," and "Come and Talk to Me." Mr. Dalvin recalls how the album Forever My Lady was created, "The last version of the album that was released only took us a week to finish because we had already written the songs. It was about getting our sounds right because the vocals were already done. It was us going back in the studio recreating the beats and the melodies... Most of the songs were written before we left North Carolina. My brother was 16 and I was 14 when we wrote the songs..." The album went on to sell over three million copies.
In 1993, A minor feud resulted over the band's second album, Diary of a Mad Band; Jodeci, unhappy with their treatment by Uptown, flirted with the idea of leaving for Death Row Records, which resulted in almost zero promotion for the album. Reaching number 3 on the Billboard 200 and number-one on the R&B album chart, where it stayed for two weeks, spawning the #1 R&B hit "Cry for You"; "Feenin'" and "What About Us". "Diary of a Mad Band" eventually went double platinum.
Jodeci's third album, The Show, the After Party, the Hotel, was released in July 1995, reaching the second spot on the Billboard 200 making it the group's highest peaking release and topping the U.S. R&B Albums chart. By September 1995, it was certified platinum in sales by the RIAA, after sales exceeding one million copies in the United States. The album contained the Top 40 hits "Freek'n You", "Love U 4 Life" and "Get on Up".
2014–present: Return and The Past, the Present, the Future
In February 2014, Timbaland revealed that he was in the process of working with Jodeci on their comeback album.
On November 7, 2014, Jodeci reunited and performed a medley of their classic songs at the 2014 Soul Train Awards. The performance also included a snippet of a brand-new single titled "Nobody Wins", which was released on December 22, 2014. The song is the first single released by Jodeci in over 18 years. The last song released by the group was "Get on Up", in 1996. Prior to the performance, the group had not taken the stage together in the U.S. since 2006.
On January 28, 2015, a second single titled "Every Moment" was released. Also in that same month, it was announced by Epic Records that Jodeci had been signed to the label to release their new album. Timbaland, who recently brought his Mosley Music Group over to Epic, will work on the album. Their fourth album, The Past, The Present, The Future, was released on March 31, 2015. It was their first album in 20 years.
Shortly after the album's release, a Jodeci reunion tour was announced. The first show took place on June 6, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia, as a part of the city's 11th annual Stone Soul Music Festival. Jodeci headlined the event, marking the group's first official concert performance together in the United States since 1995.
Legacy and Influence
Most of the elements that were eventually combined to form what became known as the "Jodeci style" originated with the work of new jack swing pioneers Keith Sweat and Teddy Riley, with an important influence being the work of Riley's three-man group Guy. Other influences include the works of Bobby Womack, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Bobby Brown, and New Edition. The group's cover of Stevie Wonder's 1981 song "Lately", became their biggest pop hit to date, peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in August 1993.
Artists and producers heavily influenced by Jodeci were those were directly or indirectly associated with them, including Mary J. Blige, Dru Hill, Usher and a number of the members of DeVante's Swing Mob collective who he discovered and nurtured: Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Nealante, Magoo, Ginuwine, Stevie J, Playa (who R&B singer & songwriter Static Major was a part of) with Smoke E. Digglera, Suga (who R&B act Tweet was a part of), and Darryl Pearson.
To date, Jodeci remains well respected and revered among most hip-hop circles for their street-flavored sound and urban appeal. The group has been mentioned and sampled in songs by a number of hip-hop artists including Notorious B.I.G., Twista, Jay-Z, Big K.R.I.T, David Banner, Bump J, Wale, Freddie Gibbs, Bun B, Tyga, CyHi the Prynce, Young Thug, Bryson Tiller and most notably Drake, who, along with J. Cole released a song titled "Jodeci Freestyle" in June 2013. The song pays homage to the group and samples "4 U", an interlude from The Show, the After Party, the Hotel. On October 19, 2014, a Drake song titled "How About Now" leaked to the internet. The song samples Jodeci's "My Heart Belongs To U", and was later released in 2015 as a bonus track on the physical release of Drake's album/mixtape If You're Reading This It's Too Late.
Mariah Carey repeatedly mentions Jodeci in her song "The Impossible" from her album Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, which sampled "Forever My Lady". She also samples Jodeci's "Freek'n You" in her song "Makin' It Last All Night" featuring Jermaine Dupri. Additionally, she sampled a line from "Bring On Da' Funk" in her song "Don't Stop (Funkin' 4 Jamaica)" on her album Glitter.