Not 'The End of the Road' for '90s R&B

The crooners belted out hits like "Do Me" and "Poison," where they dished out relationship advice to a hipper audience. Even today, there are people who could "never trust a big butt and smile" because "the situation is serious."

"They taught you how to do it right," Godfrey said.

BBD taught men how to talk to and woo women when "we didn't even want girlfriends," he added.

"[BBD] had you watching out for chicks. The chicks were no good," the comedian joked. "[You've] got to be careful; the girl is poison."

The band's club-thumping anthems were part of Bivins producer instincts, which allowed him to recognize a younger demographic that wanted more swagger with its soul music, Smith said.

It also was Bivins business insight that lead him to discover the decade's biggest group — Boyz II Men.

"They just had more of a hip-hop mentally," Smith said. "It's those three just having their fun."

Some critics have called their brand of R&B misogynistic, but to some fans the group always will be the boys from Boston out to have some fun.



Before he became infamous for his acquittal on 14 child pornography counts, R. Kelly primarily was known as the pied piper of R&B, and the '90s is where he got his start.

He wasn't a solo singer originally. He began the decade as part of R. Kelly and Public Announcement, which netted Kelly the hits "Honey Love" and "Dedicated."

But it was the Chicago singer's solo efforts that would catapult him to superstardom.

"I think that anybody who had any sense could tell he was a musical genius," Smith said. "He had a lot of charisma."

Kelly's '90s singles varied from the suggestive, like "Bump N Grind" and "Down Low," to the inspirational, like "I Believe I Can Fly."

That variety is party what fueled his success.

He gets nasty and then gets romantic, Godfrey said.

"R. Kelly — look at what he's done. All his music is so great," he added. "You can tell he always evolves. He always keeps his stuff so soulful."

Godfrey called the singer a modern-day Teddy Pendergrass or Charlie Wilson.

Often sexual themes saturated Kelly's music and lyrics.

"We're about like grown-man stuff. R. Kelly sings about grown man stuff," Godfrey said. "I don't care who you are, you got to have a little nasty in you."

And many have joked Kelly's tendency to sing the hits may have been what saved him from serving jail time.

"I would have said not guilty too, listening to that music," Godfrey said.



While African-American men did have an abundance of success on the popular music scene during the '90s, it was a woman who ruled the decade.

Whitney Houston was America's princess and THE superstar of the time. The Newark, N.J., singer comes from R&B royalty — the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston and cousin to Dionne Warwick.

"Whitney is a unicorn," Smith said. "She's like a fairy princess. She's from another planet. That voice is a gift from God. You almost have to take her out of the group and compare everyone else."

Music industry executive Clive Davis crafted Houston's spotless image and served as an architect for her career, which resulted in massive success.

"Clive Davis groomed her to be one of the top-selling artists in musical history," Godfrey said. "She could do no wrong. She had a great voice. She was good looking."

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