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ALBUM REVIEW: Bell Biv Devoe – "Three Stripes" (Entertainment One)

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5 Rustys

It’s a comeback that I’m willing to bet many weren’t really banking on, the almighty return of the New Jack Swing goodness that is Bell Biv Devoe (Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe), fully reunited and doubly energized, reinvigorating the deadly dull R&B market once again with their cooley-high harmonies and slick-styled hip-hop romanticism.

From the opening moments of “Ready” where Doug E. Fresh human beatboxes, it becomes clear we’ve entered into a much-welcomed alternative universe where BBD ain’t old school stalwarts, they’re still kings of the charts, sixteen years since their last outing. It’s impossible not to jam out to de-modernized throwbacks like “Find a Way” and “I’m Betta,” unashamedly male-dominated bangers that will get you busted bopping your head and shoulders at each and every red light.

Produced by Erick Sermon and sampling B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize,’ the lead single “Run” is every bit the classic as “Poison” is, a highly energetic wayback machine that is only paralleled by the thoroughly grateful slower-jams “Finally,’ featuring the return of early 90s girl-group SWV, and the majestic meeting of the minds “One More Try,” a Soul Train-inspired duet with Boyz II Men that samples Jerry Butler and makes the luckiest among us miss trying to get that one hurried kiss as the last song of the ninth grade dance is being spun.

But what truly makes Three Stripes beautifully earn its five stars is that these guys know what their strengths are and know what their sound is—they didn’t second guess themselves by bringing in big-name producers or flash-in-the-pan rappers to modernize and update their sound; Bell Biv Devoe simply stood back and waited for the world to catch up with them and it’s resulted in a comeback that’s so good you’d be surprised they went anywhere.

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Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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