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Where are all the '90s R&B stars?
By
Jeanette Cabral

Published

November 29, 2013

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R&B of the '90s ruled. Some of the most successful bands of the decade were firmly cemented in an R&B/soul/hip-hop sound, whether it was the smooth harmonizing of Boyz II Men, or the catchy pop hits of TLC. Girl groups like 702, SWV and En Vogue dominated the video channels with their coordinated outfits (consisting of a lot of belly tops) and dance moves. Remember Jodeci? And Montell Jordan? Where did all the R&B acts go?

After some research, a trend has emerged. The groups have mostly disbanded to attempt solo careers, only to reunite in the 2000s to release music that no one paid attention to. Reality television became a viable outlet for the former R&B stars. Then after a decade of languishing in semi-obscurity, they are suddenly in demand again. The '90s nostalgia has kicked in, and all your favourite boy and girl bands are back, touring and releasing new music, hoping to cash in on the craze. 

Have a look through the list below to see where all your girls are at, and your boys, too. Also, challenge yourself to see if you can remember all the lyrics to "No Scrubs." When you're done, click on the YouTube playlist below. Your next party soundtrack is done.

Montell Jordan

The ultimate party anthem, "This is How We Do It" was a number one hit for Jordan in 1995. It is one of the handful of R&B crossover hits that still holds up today. No other song can inspire a mass group running-man dance like this one. 

Fifteen years after his hit, Jordan became a born-again Christian, and started preaching at the Victory World Church in Atlanta, Ga. 


SWV

The '90s were all about bands with either three letters or three numbers to their names. "SWV" stands for Sisters with Voices, and is made up of Cheryl "Coko" Clemons, Tamara "Taj" Johnson-George and Leanne "Lelee" Lyons.

I use the present tense because after a hiatus from music that lasted from 1998 to 2005, the band got back together. Their most recent record was in 2012 and yielded the single "Co-sign," which did well on the R&B charts.

Reality shows also came calling. Taj was a contestant on Survivor; she was also on the reality show I Married a Baller. And in 2014, there will be a six-part series documenting the group.


TLC

These three ladies ruled the '90s. Before Destiny's Child, there was Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas. 

Lopes died in a car crash in 2002, during the recording of their fourth album, 3D.

Like SWV, TLC turned to reality TV. In 2005, the show R U the Girl featured the band looking for a singer to record with them. Currently TLC is playing on more reality shows (Dancing with the Stars), promoting their new single "Meant to Be" and riding on the success of their VH1 biopic, which aired in October.


702

Another all-girl, three-digit band found success with songs like "All I Want" and "Where My Girls At," but when the '90s closed out, so did 702.

Kameelah Williams left to pursue a solo career. The remaining members recruited a replacement singer, and released a soundtrack song, "Pootie Tangin," from the movie Pootie Tang. The replacement singer was short lived, with Williams returning in 2003 to record their third album — which, because it was released outside of the '90s, did not do well.


Blackstreet

If Montell Jordan provided the party anthem of the decade, Blackstreet brought us the groove of the decade with their hip-hop-infused hit "No Diggity."

The group has had a revolving door of members through the years, but there appears to be a steady group now that is touring under the titleBS2. They recently played Nigeria.


Boyz II Men

Of all the groups on this list, Boyz II Men is the most active. They've been consistently making music and touring throughout the 2000s. They tapped into the nostalgic crowd by touring with New Kids on the Block and 98 Degrees. They headlined a love cruise in February 2011 to celebrate their 20th anniversary. And they will be setting up their own Las Vegas show in March of 2014.


En Vogue

The 2000s have brought litigation and in-fighting to En Vogue. Just this year, two of the members of the group were granted exclusive rights to use the name En Vogue, taking that away from singer Maxine Jones, who was touring on her own using the group's name.

Their last communication about their new record was delivered in May 2011 via their Facebook page and Twitter. The message was: "almost done! Will keep you posted...on the new album that is!"


Toni Braxton

The minister's daughter with the deep alto voice grew up, grew her hair out and managed to keep recording well into the decade after the '90s. She had a reality show called Braxton Family Values. She was diagnosed with lupus. And she has a new album coming out in 2014 called Love, Marriage and Divorce, consisting of duets with collaborator Babyface.


Jodeci

This '90s R&B band gave us the term "freek" as a euphemism for sex (I assume, it could be a dance move) in their biggest hit, "Freek'n You."

Jodeci is enjoying some much deserved attention lately. Drake and J. Cole released a rap called "Jodeci Freestyle," praising the group as an influence. 

Despite the shout-out from one of the biggest rap stars of today, Jodeci is rather quiet. No big tour or comeback record planned. You may know that two of the brothers in Jodeci broke off to form K-Ci & JoJo, but K-Ci met with some legal issues in 2001 when he was charged with lewd conduct.