The R&B style of music is also known as rhythm and blues, and it first became popular among African-Americans in the 1940s. Record companies releasing rhythm and blues recordings described the sound as, “urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a heavy, insistent beat.”
As the genre became more popular among all demographics, its distinctions blurred, and bands as unlikely as The Rolling Stones and The Who were described in that manner.
It was only in the 1980s that the sound we now know as R&B really developed and it is also sometimes referred to as contemporary R&B. It’s a style which draws in elements of funk, soul, pop and dance music as well as its predecessor, rhythm and blues. Some famous stars of the contemporary R&B world that you may recognise include Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey and R Kelly – artists who boast very different sounds to The Who or The Rolling Stones!
The 90’s were a golden era for contemporary R&B, and stars such as Usher, TLC and Toni Braxton shot to fame, along with Blackstreet – one of the 90s’ most overlooked and underrated bands.
Who are Blackstreet?
Blackstreet is a band that was formed by Teddy Riley, a former member of the successful band Guy and a pioneer of the new jack swing style which, similar to R&B, fused sounds of hip hop and dance-pop with urban sounds and was influenced by jazz and funk.
Teddy was joined in the original line-up by Chauncey Hannibal, Levi Little, and Joseph Stonestreet, but founding member Joseph Stonestreet did not last long, being replaced by Dave Hollister prior even to the release of Blackstreet’s first album.
The line-up of the band has changed several times since Blackstreet’s first album, and today comprises of Chauncey Hannibal, Levi Little, Mark Middleton and Eric Williams, who tour and perform together to this day.
The band have at various times been signed to both Dreamworks and Interscope record labels and in total released four albums between 1991 and 2003.
Blackstreet enjoyed significant musical success throughout their heyday in the 90s; buoyed by its inclusion on the soundtrack of the Chris Rock film CB4, the group’s first single (“Baby Be Mine”) did well in the charts and boded well for the outfit’s first album, Blackstreet.
Two songs, “Booti Call” and “Before I Let You Go” entered the top 40; the latter, the top 10, but it was Blackstreet’s sophomore album Another Level which really catapulted them into the global consciousness.
Much of this can be attributed to the success of one single alone, the smash hit “No Diggity.” The tune was produced by superstar artist and darling of the 90’s Dr Dre, and hit No 1 on the Billboard Top 100 in 1996.
“No Diggity” also went on to win Blackstreet a prized Grammy award in the category for Best R&B Performance for a duo or group with vocals. The album on which it featured, “Another Level,” went four times platinum in the USA, and went into the number 3 spot on the album charts.
It also earned Blackstreet a guest appearance on rap superstar Jay Z’s hit “This City is Mine” and a collaboration with Janet Jackson called “Girlfriend/Boyfriend” which helped their third album make it into the top 10 too.
Reunion and booking Blackstreet
Blackstreet parted company in 1999 after constant changes to the line-up took a toll, but were back together just a few years later in 2003 to record the reunion album, Level II together. The members of the band concentrated on solo projects for some time, but in 2014 announced a reunion and have been back together and touring since that time, including completing two tours of Australia.
The band has proved popular at throwback events and festivals, where they’ve been able to reach a whole different audience and bring the delights of their particular brand of 90s R&B to a younger generation, who might otherwise have missed this underrated band.
If you’re looking for a Blackstreet agent to book this band for a concert or event then you’re in the right place; MN2S represent these seminal characters of the 90’s R&B scene and it’s easy to get in touch and find out if they’re available.