Jodeci was an American musical group, active from 1990 to 1996, whose repertoire included R&B, soul music, and new jack swing. The group consisted of two pairs of African-American brothers from Charlotte, North Carolina: the DeGrates (Donald "DeVante Swing" DeGrate, the group founder/leader, and Dalvin DeGrate) and the Haileys (main lead singer Cedric "K-Ci" Hailey and second lead singer Joel "Jo-Jo" Hailey). The group's name is a combination of the names of three of its members: Jo-Jo, DeVante, and K-Ci.
Jodeci, also known as the "Bad Boys of R&B" is tied with Boyz II Men as being the most influential R&B group of the 1990s, and is also noted for being the starting point of the careers of artists such as Missy Elliott, Timbaland, and Ginuwine. The group had a successful string of hit singles and gold albums until the group went on indefinite hiatus after 1996. The Hailey brothers continued to perform together under the name K-Ci and Jo-Jo, and had success on the pop charts beyond that of the original band.
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Influences and followers
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 which, while less obvious, were instrumental to their style, included the works of Bobby Womack, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Bobby Brown, and New Edition. Sean "Puffy" Combs was in charge of developing Jodeci into a successful act, and had a major role in defining their style and sound.
While Boyz II Men is more of an influence to boy bands such as The Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, Jodeci was more influential to most of the black R&B groups who succeeded them, including Jagged Edge, 112, Next, and most notably Dru Hill. In fact, Dru Hill, with their "bad boy" style image and K-Ci-esque lead vocals from Sisqó, were accused of completely ripping off Jodeci's style.
The acts most heavily influenced by Jodeci were those that they directly trained and developed, including Mary J. Blige and a number of the members of their Swing Mob collective: Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Magoo, Ginuwine, Playa, Tweet, and Darryl Pearson.
The Haileys meet the DeGrates
Both from a Pentecostal background, the haileys and DeGraters originally performed and recorded independently released gospel albums separately during the late-1980s, and eventually met each other through their girlfriends. However, it turned out that Dalvin DeGrate was dating K-Ci Hailey's girlfriend. The Hailey brothers and DeVante eventually became friends and discussed possibly making albums together.
Signing to Uptown Records
DeVante traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota when he was sixteen to audition for Prince's band, but was turned down. He then returned to Charlotte, North Carolina to record a song JoJo was performing. Soon, the two went to New York City to shop their demo tapes in hopes of getting signed. K-Ci and Dalvin both decided to tag along, and joined their respective brothers for the trip. Eventually, hip hop artist/record producer Heavy D heard one of the tapes and loved it. He talked Uptown Records CEO Andre Harell into listening to the tape, who was impressed enough to sign the group.
The group was assigned to Uptown executive Sean "Puffy" Combs, who took on the task of developing the new act. He helped the group create its rough hip-hop-based image, reminiscent of that of Teddy Riley's group Guy. Jodeci were exposed to the public by singing background vocals on a number of singles by Father MC, and made their television debut on the June 11 1991 episode of Soul Train.
"Stay" and "Gotta Love" were Jodeci's first singles; "Stay" hit #1 on the US R&B charts. On May 28, 1991, Jodeci released their debut album, Forever My Lady, which included the single "Come and Talk To Me". The single and its follow-up, "Forever My Lady", both hit #1 on the R&B charts and eventually went gold, and the album sold over three million copies.
On most of the tracks on Forever My Lady and subsequent releases by the group, K-Ci and Jo-Jo share lead vocals, and all four members contribute backgrounds. DeVante handled nearly all of the production and most of the songwriting, although Dalvin, K-Ci, and Jo-Jo often made significant contributions.
On February 6 1993, Jodeci, along with Uptown labelmates Father MC, Heavy D, Mry J. Blige, and Christopher Williams, recorded the "Uptown Unplugged" episode of MTV Unplugged, which aired on MTV on May 31, 1993. The first number on the show was Jodeci's cover of Stevie Wonder's 1980 single. Jodeci performed "Lately", with DeVante on the piano and K-Ci and Jo-Jo on leads. A studio version of the cover was another #1 R&B hit for the group, and also became their first and only Top 5 pop hit.
During this same year, a woman filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against K-Ci and DeVante. She had met K-Ci at a nightclub, and went home with him, where allegedly DeVante pointed a gun at her while K-Ci fondled her breasts.
As it came time to release the second Jodeci album, there was dispute between Uptown and the band, who felt they were being treated unfairly by the label. Diary of A Mad Band was finally released on December 21 1993, with very little initial promotional backing from the label, but eventually went platinum. The album such hits as "Feenin'", the #1 R&B hit "Cry For You", and the #1 R&B hit/Top 5 pop hit "Lately".
Expansion and collaborations
By 1992, the success of the first album allowed DeVante to found the Swing Mob, a collective of artists, songwriters, and producers who were signed to Elektra Records through his "Swing Mob" imprint. A number of the members formed Jodeci's touring band, including guitarist Darryl Pearson. All of the twenty-plus members of Swing Mob lived in a single two-story house in New York City, and often did songwriting, production ,and guest vocal work on Jodeci records.
Many of the artists signed to Swing Mob were Jodeci fans who auditioned for DeVante backstage before or after Jodeci concerts, including the female quartet Sista. Among the members of Sista was a young singer/rapper named Missy Elliott; she brought her friends Tim "DJ Timmy Tim" Mosley and Melvin "Magoo" Barcliff along with her when she and Sista moved to New York after getting signed to Swing Mob. DeVante liked Mosely's unusual production style, and, dubbing him "Timbaland", began working with the young producer on material for Jodeci, Sista, Playa, and Swing Mob members Elgin "Ginuwine" Lumpkin and Sugah, another female quartet that included Tweet.
The Swing Mob members recorded dozens of records, including an entire Sista LP, chiefly written by Missy and produced by DeVante and Timbaland. 4 All The Sistas Around Da World was scheduled for a 1994 released, but was shelved.
Third album and hiatus
On July 18, 1995, Jodeci released their third and to date, final album, The Show, The After Party, The Hotel. The album was another step forward in terms of DeVante's production and the group's songwriting skills, assisted on some tracks by Missy Elliott and Timbaland. A number of hit singles were launched from this record, including "Love U 4 Life", "Get On Up", and the Top 20 hit "Freek'n You", a remix of which featured Ghostface Killah and Raekwon.
For all of its success, The Show, The After Party, The Hotel proved to be the last album the group would release. K-Ci and Jo-Jo performed guest vocals on Tupac's 1996 single "How Do U Want It", and were anxious to begin a side project. Jodeci went on an indefinite hiatus in 1996, with the Haileys forming the more pop-flavored vocal group K-Ci and JoJo, scoring hits such as "All My Life", "Tell Me It's Real", and "Crazy" (from the Save The Last Dance soundtrack). DeVante's Swing Mob folded the same year, and most of its members went on to find success at other labels. Dalvin released a solo album, Met-a-mor-phic, in 2000, and became a writer an producer for artists such as Tevin Campbell.
Uptown Records folded at about the same time Jodeci did, and was absorbed into MCA Records; the band is now signed to Geffen Records. A new Jodeci album has been in the pipeline for nearly a decade, and although the members have reunited at various times and recorded material, the only new Jodeci song released after 1996 was "Slip and Fall", which appeared as a limited-edition bonus track on K-Ci and JoJo's third album, X.
- 1991: "Gotta Love"
- 1991: "Stay" (US #41, R&B #1)
- 1991: "Forever My Lady" (US #25, R&B #1)
- 1991: "Come and Talk to Me" (US #11, R&B #1)
- 1993: "Cry For You" (US #15, R&B #1)
- 1993: "Feenin'" (US #25, R&B #2)
- 1993: "Lately" (US #4, R&B #1)
- 1993: "Let's Go Through the Motions" (US #65)
- 1994: "What About Us" (R&B #14)
- 1995: "Freek'n You" (US #14, R&B #3)
- 1995: "Love U 4 Life"
- 1996: "Get on Up" (US #22, R&B #4)