Something on the Side

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  • New Edition has been around for some time and despite all the different personalities and a few breaks here and there, the guys stayed together and have been touring around the country all summer. Fortunately, for attendees of the Tom Joyner Family Reunion, taking place at Orlando’s Gaylord Resort August 30 – September 3, they’ve made time in their busy schedules to perform there as well. That got us to thinking about just how much New Edition has done for their loyal fans. Not only have Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Ralph, Mike and Johnny recorded with the group, each member has had their own memorable side hustle. Read on for a look at the each member’s best outside project.

    BOBBY BROWN –  “Don’t Be Cruel” (1988)
    This is of course, the easiest one. Bobby Brown’s solo career was his New Edition side hustle and he did pretty well with that. His 1988 solo project, his second overall, is now considered a classic of the then brand-new genre dubbed “New Jack Swing.” From the title track, to the sweetness of “Roni” to “My Prerogative” to “Every Little Step” with its still memorable video, this album captured the swagger, personality and talent that was badass Bobby Brown. Produced mostly by hitmakers L.A. and Babyface, this album defined a generation’s music. Given everything that came after, it’s too bad that not only did his wife’s celebrity eclipse his; but that the resulting tumultuous marriage cast some doubt on his musical legacy. But there’s really no doubt at all that Bobby Brown was one of the most influential performers of his time. “Don’t Be Cruel”

    JOHNNY GILL – “Johnny Gill” – 1990
    Eddie Murphy rumors notwithstanding, Johnny Gill has had a stellar recording career, including not just one but two mega-groups, his own solo career and his duets with Stacy Lattisaw. In fact, it’s Lattisaw, his childhood friend, who he has to thank for his own career. At her urging, Gill recorded a demo that got him a record deal. The two made some great songs together including “Perfect Combination.” Gill joined New Edition in 1987 and is the co-lead on “Can You Stand The Rain?” arguably their most mature hit. Gill’s 1990 self-titled solo project is a truly underrated gem. It includes the sexy ballads “There You Go” and “My, My, My,” as well as the uptempto hit “Fairweather Friend.” Gill may be most associated these days with New Edition, but he was a tremendous solo artist as well. And let’s not forget – he was part of the supergroup LSG that featured the late Gerald Levert and Keith Sweat.  “My, My My”

    MICHAEL BIVINS -  Boyz II Men and Biv 10
    Out of all the members of New Edition, Michael Bivins has been the most prolific on the business side. He is credited with the discovery of Boyz II Men, who actually named themselves after the New Edition song.  Bivins’ Biv Entertainment management company and his Biv 10 record label, distributed through Motown, signed Boyz II Men, 702, Another Bad Creation, Subway and MC Brains. Bivins was also a member of New Edition offshoot BBD, but his business savvy behind the scenes is what makes him stand out as the most business-minded members of the crew.  “Motown Philly”

    RONNIE DEVOE – DeVoe Broker Associates
    Ronnie DeVoe found himself a pretty good side hustle completely unrelated to music. Although he still performs with New Edition, he is also co-founder of DeVoe Broker Associates, a full-service real estate firm in Atlanta. But Devoe’s company does not just sell houses – it’s a buyer’s agency, a listing agency, does property management and sells commercial and residential properties. Devoe, who is married to former Blaque member Shamari Fears, has proven that he can create a successful track record on and off the stage. With sad stories of artists going broke when their music careers slow down, that’s pretty impressive.  www.devoeonline.com

    RALPH TRESVANT –  “Ralph Tresvant,” 1990
    Ralph Tresvant was the guy in New Edition who was always overshadowed by a stronger voice or bigger personality – first Bobby Brown, then Johnny Gill. In 1989, he left New Edition as the group went through various changes. Tresvant went to work on his first solo album with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and the end product was the hit single “Sensitivity” which went #1 in 1990, when his solo album was released. Although he also hit with “Stone Cold Gentleman” and the album went platinum, it was the most success Tresvant ever found outside of New Edition. He would later join Brown and Gill in the group Heads of State, which was a great avenue for exposure for the trio until the entire New Edition group headed out for their current tour. “Sensitivity”

    RICKY BELL –  Bell Biv Devoe, 1990
    Ricky Bell wasn’t the driving force behind BBD – it was a joint effort of Bivins, Bell and Devoe. As the most low-key member of New Edition (at least in the public eye), Bell sang some leads but not always on the group’s biggest hits. But in BBD, he had his moment as the lead of the sultry apology ballad “When Will I See You Smile Again?” Produced by Alton “Wokie” Stewart and Timothy Gatling who did several other tracks on BBD’s debut, it gave Bell as rare chance to step out front.  And of course, there’s also that little-known “Poison” joint.  “When Will I See You Smile Again?” 
     

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