I See You, BET: ‘The New Edition Story’ Review

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There’s been many constants in my life.  One of those constants is New Edition.  For those of y’all that were born after 1990, New Edition was an R&B/Pop powerhouse during the ’80s and ’90s that consisted of Ralph Tresvant, Michael Bivins, Ricky Bell, Ronnie DeVoe, Johnny Gill and last but not least, Bobby Brown.  Yes, that Bobby Brown.  I’ve loved these fellas since I was 4 or 5 years old, and many of their songs still remain in heavy rotation on my IPod.  Not only, but their solo and side group projects have become just as legendary.  I’m sure y’all have heard Bobby’s solo stuff, and Bell Biv DeVoe was amazing.  Johnny and Ralph’s solo songs are just as timeless.  So, when I first heard about the The New Edition Story during the 2016 BET Awards, I couldn’t wait to see it.  I patiently waited and finally, this past week (Jan. 24-26, 2017), the miniseries aired.  I loved it.

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Let me get the technical stuff out the way first.  The production value of this film was gorgeous.  The sharp picture and flawless editing made this minseries look like a Hollywood feature film.  Ever since the early 2000s, BET stood more for “Bootleg Entertainment Television” instead of Black Entertainment Television.  For the longest time, they only aired videos throughout the day, and when they did air TV shows—entertaining as they were—they looked like they cost all of $30,000 to make, if that.  Then TV One came along and brought some serious competition.  BET answered back with Centric, their sister channel, but TV One still had more viewers.  It looks like BET realized they had to step up their A game, and hired a sleek production team to handle their movies and TV shows.  With The New Edition Story, Being Mary Jane and upcoming movies and series like The Quad, Mandiba and Rebel, BET is reminding everyone that they’re still relevant, dammit.

Now onto to the actual acting and storyline.  The performances and plot were on point.  The miniseries was divided into three parts, which were all great, but I have to admit that parts one and two were a little bit better than part three.  The final section was slightly rushed, and I don’t know why on God’s green Earth the director and producers thought that Bobby Brown was still rockin’ a high top fade and leather suits in 1996 and 1997.  I promise you he let that look go by that time.  Just check out the “Hit Me Off” video if you don’t believe me.

Other than that, the movie was pretty flawless.  There were a lot of big name actors in it, too:  Wood Harris, Lala Anthony, Faizon Love, Lisa Nicole Carson (I was happy to see her come back to the industry!), Michael Rappaport, Monica Calhoun and Bryshere Gray aka Hakeem from Empire.  I was very proud of Bryshere (I’ll call him by his real name for the purposes of this post, but he’ll always be Hakeem to me).  The role of Michael Bivins is a far cry from spoiled brat Hakeem Lyon, and Bryshere more than proved that he’s a good actor, and he actually has some pipes.  Oh, yes…just like the films Cadillac Records and Walk the Line, these actors had to sing themselves.  By the way, Luke James, who played Johnny Gill, really did the film (and Johnny himself) justice.  If you have absolutely no interest in watching the miniseries, at least watch the scene where the fellas record “Can You Stand the Rain.”  It blew everyone away.  I also have to give props to Tyler Marcel Williams, the actor that portrayed Bobby as a child.  I swear he looked and acted like a miniature version of him.

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Another thing I loved about this film is that like most biopics that take place between the ’80s and ’00s, it brought back a lot of good memories (I LOVE how they recreated Video Soul!).  Like I said, I grew up listening to these men, so I remember when “Cool It Now” and “Mr. Telephone Man” got heavy rotation and when Bobby’s Don’t Be Cruel album was the hottest joint of the year (man, I remember my mother and I listening to that tape everyday she picked me up from school when I was in second grade.  Such nostalgia…).  However, I learned a lot of stuff from this miniseries, too.  Allow me to list some of the facts I found out about, assuming they’re true.  You guys know how biopics exaggerate and create scenes and characters for the sake of entertainment. (SPOILERS HEREIN)

  • Bobby is the one that started the group.
  • Once upon a time, Bobby actually had stage fright, if you can believe it.  Hence, his reason for starting the group.  He didn’t want to perform alone.
  • The group originally consisted of Mike, Bobby and Ricky.  They asked Ralph to join after deciding that three guys wasn’t enough.  Ronnie came along much later, after the group was already pretty well established in the neighborhood.
  • The original bad boy of the group wasn’t Bobby, it was Mike.  Mike was known as the troublemaker in the neighborhood, and his attitude almost got him thrown out of the group.
  • New Edition was headlining shows early in their career.  Apparently, Kurtis Blow and Madonna opened for them.  Yes, Madonna.
  • According to the movie, Kurtis Blow was kind of an asshole.  He didn’t like that he had to open for a bunch of pre-teen boys.  No wonder he felt like The Fats Boys got robbed when New Edition beat them during the talent show.  Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Watch Krush Groove.  🙂
  • Maurice Starr actually paid the boys $1.87 for Candy Girl.  They had to split that amongst themselves.
  • A personal observation:  “Is This the End?” sounds a lot like “Please Don’t Go Girl” by New Kids on the Block (I used to love that song).  I never noticed that before.  By the way, Maurice Starr also managed NKOTB.  Coincidence?
  • Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produced Heartbreak, the comeback album that has the hits “Can You Stand the Rain,” and “If Isn’t Love.”
  • Ralph was groomed to be lead singer of the group from the beginning, and Maurice even tried to coerce him into being a solo artist.  Ralph refused.
  • It turned out that per MCA’s contract, any member of a music group that was seen as beneficial was still bound by said contract if he ever left the act.  Hence, MCA approached Bobby to make a solo record after he was voted out of New Edition.
  • The Home Again tour was a hot damn mess.  It turns out the fellas’ ego had gotten so large that they were spending money they didn’t have and were even taking separate tour buses to shows.  The tour ended with a huge fight on stage complete with gunshots fired during the performance.
  • The men didn’t just fight during the Home Again tour.  During the Cool It Now tour, a fight broke out between the fellas onstage due to Bobby’s showboating.
  • Bobby first became a father at 17.  Ralph was also expecting a child with his long-time girlfriend around the same time, but she unfortunately, she miscarried.  The manager they had at the time did everything he could to keep the news of Bobby’s first child out of the media for fear of losing fans.
  • Bobby wasn’t the only member of the group with substance abuse problems.  Ricky also had issues with addiction, and actually overdosed.
  • Bobby’s signature look on the “Every Little Step” video was made purely by accident.  The barber wasn’t paying attention and cut the side of Bobby’s fade off.
  • Mike brought Johnny into the group after Bobby left to give New Edition a more mature sound.
  • Since Bobby and New Edition were still under contract with MCA, they still had to tour together, with Bobby and Al B. Sure! opening for the group.
  • “You’re Not My Kind of Girl” is actually a New Edition song.  All these years I thought it was a Ralph Tresvant solo song.  By the way, that song always perplexed me.  He doesn’t want a good woman that’s pretty and carries herself well.  Are you looking for a THOT?
  • Boyz II Men named themselves after the New Edition song “Boys to Men.”  They became part of Mike’s East Coast Family (Boyz II Men, Another Bad Creation aka ABC, and Bell Biv DeVoe aka BBD) when they auditioned for him in front of New Edition’s tour bus.
  • Bobby may have been voted out of the group unanimously, but it wasn’t a decision that the fellas took lightly, and it hurt them immensely to do it.  Seeing that tear stroll down Ricky’s face nearly made me cry.

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All in all, this film was excellent, and whether you’re a fan of New Edition, or you’ve never heard of these guys in your life, or the closest attachment you have to these men are seeing Bobby Brown on various reality shows, please check this miniseries out.

—Written by Nadiya

So, what did you think about The New Edition Story?  Was it the TV event of 2017, or was it highly overrated?  Did it bring back fond memories of the ’80s and ’90s?  Did you learn a ton of new things about the group like I did?  Let me know in the comments section!

Top 10 Songs of 2016

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Happy New Year, y’all!  I know it’s been an extremely long time since I’ve posted anything on this blog (October, to be exact), but since I have a tad bit of free time for a change—and I’ve ended my Christmas vacay from writing—I’ve decided to do a little somethin’ somethin’ regarding the past year.

Now, 2016 wasn’t exactly the easiest year for most of us, and I’m sure that a lot of us are happy that it’s come and gone and we were blessed enough to survive.  However, I have to say that one of the good things about 2016 was that the music was on point.  2016 actually had a a resurgence of music, in my opinion, and I decided to make a top 10 list of the best songs the year had to offer.  Mind you, these are just the songs I’ve heard this year, and the majority of the songs I listened to belonged to the genre of Hip-Hop and R&B.  Most of the Pop songs last year made me promptly turn the station, and I’m more geared towards Classic Rock than the contemporary stuff.  With that being said, let’s jump right into this!

10.  “Hotline Bling” by Drake

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I realize this song was actually released in 2015, but it got some crazy airplay in 2016, and I first heard it around January or February of last year.  Drake isn’t a strong singer, but the tune of this song is really catchy, as is the music that was used.  I have to admit, this is the first Drake song I’ve liked (I don’t listen to a lot of today’s Hip-Hop), and I uploaded it to my IPod not too long after discovering it.

9.  “Phone Down” by Erykah Badu

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Like many of the songs on this list, I heard this gem while listening to The Steve Harvey Morning Show on my way to work.  It’s one of Erykah’s most straightforward songs, but the music and lyrics draw you in.  Lord knows it’s hard to make someone put their phone down in this day and age, but Erykah has you believing that she can easily make her man do it.  The video leaves much to be desired, but the song is gold.

8.  “In Common” by Alicia Keys

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A lot of folks say that Alicia hasn’t been the same since she got together with Swizz Beats, but in my opinion, she hasn’t missed a thing, and “In Common” proves that.  I came across this song this past summer while browsing for new music on You Tube.  The haunting tune and lyrics about still being in love with a man that she knows she shouldn’t be with got me hooked immediately.

7.  “Formation” by Beyoncé

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Y’all know “Formation” had to be somewhere on the list.  Pretty much every song on the Lemonade album was legendary, but I had “Formation” playing just about every day, twice a day on my IPod for weeks.  “Formation” had a bangin’ beat, as well as memorable lyrics (“I got hot sauce in my bag…swag.”).  Not only is the song itself the bomb, but the video is extremely inspiring with its homage to contemporary—as well as antiquated—African-American culture.

6.  “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd

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If you watched any videos regarding The Mannequin Challenge this year (which really impressed me, by the way), you’ve heard this song playing in the background.  There was something about the soft music and the hook that really got me into this song, which is saying a lot, considering I couldn’t get into too much of contemporary Hip-Hop nowadays.  Hip-Hop made a comeback in a major way in 2016.

5.  “Don’t Touch My Hair” by Solange

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Over the years, a lot of people slept on Solange and wrote her off as Beyoncé’s little sister, or the little lady that managed to whup Jay-Z’s ass in an elevator (I couldn’t resist).  However, when Solange released A Seat At the Table, she proved she was so much more and shut the naysayers up.  One of the many great songs on that album that stood out was “Don’t Touch My Hair.”  When I first came across the video, it had just debuted on You Tube, and what I thought would be a sassy tune about not messin’ with a black woman’s hair turned out to be a thought provoking song about the pride and culture of African-American people.  The video blew me away, too.  Much like Beyoncé’s Lemonade, “Don’t Touch My Hair” showcased the beauty of black people, but it did so in a more art house type manner.

4.  “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars

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Anyone that knows me knows that I love ’80s music, and “24K Magic” brought ’80s realness.  Just when I thought that Bruno Mars hit his peak with “Uptown Funk,” he released “24K Magic,” and I fell in love with it right off the bat.  The synthesizers and the lyrics take me back to a simpler time, when MTV was actually entertaining.  Yeah, I went there.

3.  “Crush” by Yuna feat. Usher

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I had never heard of Yuna before coming across “Crush” on You Tube, but I’m sure to hear a lot more from her, considering how well made this song is.  Yuna and Usher make a perfect duet about a man and woman that have both have feelings for each other and are just starting to act on it.  On a side note, Yuna has a very pretty voice that’s similar to Jhene Aiko’s, another artist that I just discovered this past year.  Ironically enough, on Yuna’s album Chapters, Yuna and Jhene do a duet together.

2.  “Lazarus” by David Bowie

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Like “Hotline Bling,” “Lazurus” was actually released in 2015.  I listened to it a few days prior to Mr. Bowie’s death, and I really enjoyed it, even more so than the title track.  Then, Mr. Bowie passed away and I realized what “Lazurus” actually was…a goodbye.  Now it hurts me to listen to the song, or any of the songs featured on the Blackstar album.  I certainly can’t watch the video.  Nonetheless, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a great song, and it’s had an extreme impact on music fans.  We still miss you, Mr. Bowie.

1.  “Cranes In the Sky” by Solange

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Yes, Solange made the list again, proving how good the songs featured on A Seat At the Table are.  I first heard “Cranes In the Sky” on The Steve Harvey Morning Show and initially, I didn’t think it was quite as good as “Don’t Touch My Hair.”  Then I gave the song a second chance, and realized just how beautiful it was.  The video for “Cranes In the Sky” was equally gorgeous with its artful images of landscapes and African-American people.  I’m lovin’ this new neo-soul side of Solange.  I’m more than happy to see that folks will finally look at Solange as an artist in her own right, and she’ll finally be leaving her big sister’s shadow.

There were a lot of great songs released this past year, but only 10 of them could make this list.  However, I wanted to post some honorable mentions, too:

“Can’t Wait” by Jill Scott

“Love Me Now” by John Legend

The Lemonade album by Beyoncé (yes, the entire album)

“Blended Family” by Alicia Keys

The TWENTY88 album by TWENTY88 (Big Sean and Jhene Aiko)

—Written by Nadiya

So what were your top songs of 2016?  I mostly listened to Hip-Hop and R&B, so I’m interested to read which songs got heavy rotation in your playlist!  Let me know in the comments section!