Artists: Bell Biv DeVoe (BBD)
Rob Gordon, the lead character in the outstanding Nick Hornby book High Fidelity and John Cusack movie of same name taught me that the secret to making a good mix tape is all in the layout. After smoothing it out, as we did last week with the mellowed out Jeff Buckley track Hallelujah, you need to turn it up a notch and crank the energy back up to eleven. Enter Bell Biv DeVoe.
I first dug these cats when they were 60% of New Edition - along with Ralph Tresvant and Bobby Brown, before he split and was replaced with Johnny Gill - and they delivered cheesy, teenage R&B love songs like "Candy Girl" and "If It Isn't Love," to which I think I still know the dance.
Anyhow, late in the '80's after Bobby left and blew up, everyone else got the same idea. Ralph T went solo and dropped "Stone Cold Gentleman," Johnny Gill delivered his album that featured "Rub You The Right Way" and "My My My," but the best of all was Bell Biv DeVoe.
Ricky Bell, Michael Bivens and Ronnie DeVoe brought an R&B album for the masses to groove to, pairing slick production with suggestive but not too racy lyrics. And when you're talking BBD, you're talking Poison.
The lyrics of this song are stupid and I don't mean stupid in that way that stupid means good, I mean they are actually stupid.
Poison deadly moving it slow
Looking for a mellow fellow like DeVoe
Getting paid laid so better lay low
Schemin' on hots my end the pro show
The low pro hot should be cut like an afro
See what you're sayin' huh
She's weighin' but I know she's a loser
How do you know me and the crew used to do her
What??? I have no idea what the hell Ronnie DeVoe is actually trying to convey here, but I know I sure did love to dance my ass of to it as a sixth grader and I still do to this very day!
BBD was like a gateway drug for me. They introduced me to what would become my music of choice - hip hop and R&B. Bell Biv DeVoe was like marijuana for me and when this album dropped, I smoked every day.
There are a couple other things that make this song an obvious choice for this feature, you know, besides how kick-ass this track is.
One is that BBD also helped usher (YEAH!) in fashion trends that, yes, I admit it, I rocked. On the inside of the cassette were a couple different shots of the lads decked out in various get-ups. I was partial to the one purple Chuck, one green Chuck with a pair of jeans and a purple and green rugby jersey that Ricky rocked in one of the poses. I don't care how stupid (or gay) you think that sounds... I was dope running around the playground at John Uyen in Chatham rocking my BBD-inspired gear.
The second is BBD's Pop Culture impact over the years. They were on Fresh Prince back in the day. You know, long before Will Smith became Will Smith. But the biggest one for me was "Poison" showing up in an episode of Scrubs.
See, I love Scrubs. Always have, always will. JD is cool an all, in that geeky sort of way, but Turk is my boy. So to flip on Scrubs one night and see Turk rock an airband routine to "Poison" just solidifies for me that this is one bad ass song.
Go grab this song. And remember, as Ricky Bell told you all those years ago:
Never trust a big butt and a smile. That girl is Poison.