Boyz II Men are back again

By Kylee Dawson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, November 18, 2004

Back in the '90s, when rhythm and blues mattered, only one group reigned in the R&B music world. In case you're too young to remember who they were, the group was - and still is - Boyz II Men.

Little over a decade later, Boyz II Men may not be the most popular R&B act around, but they're still the most successful R&B group in history, a title others will not usurp any time soon.

Having sold more than 30 million albums worldwide, and collected more than a couple of awards - an NAACP award, an American Music Award, and three Grammys - the current members of Boyz II Men are still here and will be kickin' it just for Tucson Saturday at City Limits.

"We love being a part of history," Nathan Morris said. "It's just tough in this business to try to enjoy those type of things because everybody in the business wants to judge you on what you did yesterday."

Now that they're on tour in the United States, Nathan, his brother Wanya, and Shawn Stockman are trying to keep it together since Michael McCary left the group due to a back injury.

If you go...

City Limits
6350 E. Tanque Verde Road
Dress code enforced

Performing without Michael has not been easy, but Nathan said, "It's something that we kinda have gotten used to."

"Over the last album campaign we started doing shows without Michael because he couldn't really perform because of his back," Nathan said. "So, we kinda got accustomed to it on the last tour before we put this one together."

Fortunately, Michael, like the other members, is still irreplaceable in the eyes of Boyz II Men fans, so the group will not be adding a new member.

"It's just the three of us," Nathan said. "We've thought about it, we've talked about it. We actually reached out to our fans on the Internet and whatnot. We told them we were thinking about adding another person and they kinda got a little upset. They were like, 'We'd rather have three than somebody else.'"

Though their fans may be divided about some of the group's decisions - including their latest album, Throwback, which is basically 11 covers of R&B tracks from the '70s and '80s - all of them agree that Boyz II Men's singing is still and always will be top-notch.

The same can't be said about many of today's "R&B-friendly" artists.

With the exception of 112, Nathan said the number of decent R&B groups has dramatically decreased since Boyz II Men first arrived. And, apparently, NSYNC and Backstreet Boys don't count.

"If it's not a hip-hop artist or a rap group, you get a couple of individual R&B solo artists," Nathan said. "There may be one or two groups, but there really aren't that many around. I mean, there were a few pop groups around for a minute, but they're not really around for real."

Though they're obviously picky, Boyz II Men are currently listening to Brandy, Jill Scott and D12.

"We're listening to a little bit of everything," Nathan said.

After releasing their first album, Cooleyhighharmony, in 1991, Boyz II Men have since released five additional albums, as well as Spanish-language albums, Christmas albums, and numerous tracks for films and solo projects.

They've also played musical record labels with Motown, Koch Records, and have finally landed on their own label, MSM Music Group.

"We've kinda broken away from the major record labels, which a lot of artists are afraid to do," Nathan said. "But it's the wave of the future, and always, somebody's gotta pioneer, so we say, 'Why not us?'"

Boyz II Men is also working on a new album, which they hope to release by the first quarter of next year.

Many people forget that Boyz II Men is the group that bridged the gap between older generations and younger generations by applying their old-school style to contemporary R&B beats and grooves.

Well, they'll definitely please fans of all ages since they're performing both old school and new school Boyz II Men tracks.

"We gotta do the classics," Nathan said.

Performing a capella was never a problem for the group, but doing any dance routines for the next few shows will pretty much be impossible since Wanya fell off of a 10-foot stage two weeks ago. He suffered a slight concussion, injured his back and must wear a knee brace for next six weeks.

"We're not gonna be able to be able to jump around and do all the stuff that we'd planned to do," Nathan said. "But we're still gonna come through and make it a great show."

Boyz II Men will perform at City Limits Monday at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $28.50 in advance and $30 the day of the show.