The early 90’s still brought about a plethora of R&B singing groups. The funny thing about the R&B groups of the 90’s, is that they started to separate themselves from the Jheri curl & sequin suits era. Out of the blue, you started noticing singers wearing baseball hats and jerseys. When they would show up to perform at shows, you thought groups like Jodeci were going to sing not rap. This new style brought about a coined term from Sean “Puffy” Combs called Hip Hop Soul. All of the sudden, the radio was filled with songs that had “The Funky Drummer” sample with singers that had church harmonies in the background.
In the summer of 1993, I was in Virginia. Boyz II Men and Jodeci were still preparing for their sophomore releases, and besides SWV blowing up the airwaves, this blaring tenor was coming from the jeeps screaming “I Want To Be The One…Leeeet Me Be!” Now R&B songs sounding like church songs were nothing new, but this voice sounded like no other. It was the legendary Kenny Greene pleading with the Hip Hop soul gods to be the next voice. And for the next year, he was. Songs like Come Inside and Don’t Leave Me were on a number of slow jam mixtapes.
This story has a common thread among singing groups as with any story on UnSung. The rise to power where you are riding high, to the tragedies of that same star power waining because of the gravity theory, what goes up must come down. From the lack of enthusiasm of the labels marketing to group members going in different directions, it’s just the natural progression of singing groups. However, the unsettling thing is, that 90’s lead singers were passing away around the turn of the century at an alarming rate like an omen or curse. Tony Thompson of Hi-Five, Dino of H-Town, Left Eye of TLC, Orish Grinstead of 702 and unfortunately the group Intro was not spared that fate. Kenny Green passed away in 2001 from complications of the disease known as AIDS. Since then, the group has gone through some lead singers, that didn’t prove successful until they came up with the lightbulb conclusion that Kenny simply could not be replaced and so Intro decided to take the music in another direction while still keeping the core sound and audience.
Buddy Wike the original and founding member of the group tells Part 1 of this Amazing story as On The Table takes a closer look at what happened to the group Intro.
OTT: Thank you so much for taking out your time to speak with us. How did the group intro come about?
BW: Thank you so much for sharing your platform with me. Well, we have to go back to Fort Bragg North Carolina when I was in the military. I met Kenny Thomas, and he told me about this kid named Kenny Greene that could sing real good. He knew I played piano and figured there might be something we could come up with. So we ended up linking on a Sunday writing a bunch of songs. We started out recording rap and house songs for a small indie label. Ned Pdub Brown was our lead rapper in the group. I was doing the tracks, Kenny was doing the background and lead vocals and Nelson was doing backgrounds and rap parts. Soon after that, next thing you know… Desert Storm/ Gulf War broke out and I ended up being deployed. Long story short, while I was in the desert, someone sent me a tape of Lalah Hathaway, and it was all I played. What struck me was, that Lalah reminded me of Kenny a great deal. While I was there, I kept saying, “If I ever get back in touch with dude, we’re going to make something happen.” Once I got back in town, it took about six months, but we linked back up and started working. Through another friend that used to dance with Kwame, I linked up with Jeff Sanders that could dance real good. I couldn’t dance that well but Jeff brought me along. Through that particular chemistry and hangin out, we became a group. We all had the same vision. TO BECOME STARS!
OTT: So tell us how super producer Eddie F of Heavy D & The Boyz found you guys…
BW: Hahaha. What people don’t know is, Heavy (RIP) found us first and then sent us to see Eddie. This was way before Heavy started managing groups like Soul IV Real.
One night Jeff took us to this club called The Red Zone in New York, and on our way, we had been singing Peaceful Journey, (RIP T-Roy) one of Heavy’s songs. It just so happens Heavy D was there that night, so when we saw him we were just like “This is our chance, what better time than to just sing for him right now!” He really dug it. He took our number and told us to call Eddie F because he had a production company called The Untouchables. So when the next week came around, we thought we were gonna meet with these corporate heads and listen to demo tapes all day. Nah, Eddie was real chill. He told us to wait in the studio while he ran to Sam Ash. Once he got back, we sang for him; we were in the studio with Jeff Redd the very next day doing the remix to You Called and Told Me.
So the day after that, we went over to Eddie’s house, and when we walk in, there’s this girl sitting on Eddie’s couch. I’d never seen her before, but she was mad cool. We said “Wassup” …she said “Hey guys what’s up” and from there, we ended up writing and collabing on a lot of songs. From that point, Eddie puts us in the studio with her, and we pen and record 3 to 4 songs with her. That started the birth of what is known today as Hip Hip soul, and what became of those sessions was the album we all know. What’s The 411? and the lady I’m talking about is none other than Mary J. Blige…….
This concludes Part 1….Please check in next week for Part 2 of this Amazing story!!!