Nineties R&B occupied a majority of the music I listened to in the 1990s. There was so much bottled-up originality from a relatively dormant period leading up to that golden era of R&B. The respective “competition” between solo acts as well as groups created a magical period in music history. The shedding of traditional rhythms and incorporating an edgier feel brought on a whole new dimension. And while some solo acts shined, the number of groups and their hits is what stood out. Boyz II Men, SWV, Shai, Silk, Xscape, Dru Hill, 112, TLC, Jodeci, and of course, Color Me Badd.
If you’ve watched New Jack City or grew up in the 90s, you’ve heard “I Wanna Sex You Up” by Color Me Badd. Although this song immediately defined them as an overtly sexual R&B group, they were so much more than that. They could SING. Really, really could sing. Sometimes a group gets pigeonholed because they can’t shake the association with the song that made them famous. But in CMB’s case, they were so much more than a song about sexing up a girl. They had diversity and originality, and they were edgy, but their ballads seemed to speak from their Oklahoma roots.
Unfortunately, their success came when they were so young that they weren’t able to recapture some of the formulas that made them so popular in the first place. But from my perspective, that formula wasn’t perfect for them. Their subsequent three albums were better than this chart-topper. They had more depth, were richer, and they showcased their writing ability and vocal range. Like many things, timing has a lot to do with it and some of their fan bases just wanted to hear about knockin’ boots. Ultimately they disbanded, each going their separate ways.
I think about Color Me Badd often, and I smile when I think back to the time periods I listened to them and the happiness they brought me through their music. I also reflect on how easily the winds of favor can change and the stress that it must have put on those young men. It’s so simple for fans and media to criticize and put down people when they fall from the spotlight or are struggling in their personal lives, but we tend to forget we’re all human. These were kids that were trying their best and faced real pressures and scrutiny from the public over the years. Color Me Badd were pioneers in R&B and I am hopeful that the history books reexamine their place and give the proper respect for bringing so much attention to the genre.
On behalf of your fans, we are rooting for you, Bryan, Mark, Sam, and Kevin, and sincerely hope to see Color Me Badd reunite once more.
Knight in shining armorLike the songs you hear on King’s Passage? Then check out the KP Jukebox playlist on Spotify!
I will be your fairy tale
I wanna take care of you
Girl, I’ll serve you well