It’s been 20 years; nearly 7,000 days and a generation since Jodeci laced up their Timberland boots and rocked side-to-side as a unit while delivering a chorus in perfect harmony. And while DeVante, K-Ci, JoJo and Mr. Dalvin were collectively out of the spotlight, their influence on music and pop culture was inescapable. The North Carolina quartet is the modern bar for a string of superstars—including Chris Brown, Drake and Justin Bieber.
So when Jodeci took the stage at the 2014 Soul Train Awards for a classic medley and to premiere “Nobody Wins,” featuring B.o.B, the cheers were instantly recognizable. The group is once-in-a-lifetime and current in equal measure. Fans not only stayed, but they were again checking for them.
Just don’t call their new album, The Past, The Present, The Future (Sphinx Music Entertainment/Epic Records), a comeback.
“We reignited,” says Mr. Dalvin. “That fire, we never really put it out. We just dimmed it. K-Ci and JoJo were really successful. I was producing for Mariah Carey and DeVante had all his things going on behind the scenes. As far as the group, it’s like a well-oiled antique car. It doesn’t lose value. We just parked it for a while.”
That car raced out of the gates in the early ‘90s. Their debut album, Forever My Lady (1991), shifted the R&B landscape with its mix of gospel-tinged vocals over bouncy synth-production. Boasting three breakout singles, in “Stay,” “Come and Talk to Me” and the title track, Jodeci established themselves as the leading soul voices of the decade. Their sophomore effort, Diary of a Mad Band (1993), saw the band evolve; DeVante’s songwriting (“My Heart Belongs To U,” “What About Us”) was richer and the depths of emotion evoked by K-Ci and JoJo’s vocals (“Cry For You,” “Alone”) were deeper. Entertainment Weekly labeled the set transcendent and Vibe said the album captured the “hearts (and panties) of a nation of young ladies.” Their follow-up, 1995’s The Show, the Afterparty, the Hotel was a fitting wrap to their trilogy, with sexy anthems like “Freek’n You” and wedding-powering ballads such as “Love U 4 Life.”
Jodeci’s current offering, “Every Moment,” produced by DeVante and featuring K-Ci’s high-powered lead vocals sets the pace for The Past, The Present, The Future.
The driving chorus (Every moment is so sweet/When you’re laying next to me/Our hearts beating as one/Nothing we can’t overcome) and heartfelt lyrics are a throwback to their best work, with production that’s as effortlessly current as any modern Top 40 hit without trying to chase today’s sound.
“If you’re a trendsetter, you don’t have to follow the trends,” explains Dalvin. “And Jodeci has always been a trendsetter and we continue to do that. We add new ingredients but we keep the same mold.”
The “Every Moment” video, shot on a beautiful snow-filled setting in Aspen, Colorado, with concept by Breyon Prescott was directed by Hype Williams, who helmed the visuals for “Feenin’,” and displays Jodeci in their splendor, signifying their style and trademark fashion with an homage shot that’s reminiscent of “Forever My Lady.”
The Past, The Present, The Future, their new 12-track album, features co-production by Timbaland on two tracks and collaborations with B.o.B and Liana Banks, is available March 31, and is filled with burgeoning fan favorites, including “Body Parts,” “Stress Reliever,” and “Checkin For You.”
Embark on Jodeci’s continued journey, from the past, in the present and into the future.