Year: March 2003
702 originally started as a quartet. A chance performance in Atlanta at a music convention caught the eye of New Edition’s Michael Bivins. Signed to his label BIV 10, he immediately got them in the studio with Subway on the hit “This Lil’ Game We Play.”
Amelia Childs who was the fourth member featured in the Subway video, left the group before recording started on their debut album. After recording demo’s for “Not Gonna” and “Steelo,” Orish left the group prior to the release of their debut album and newly appointed group name, 702. Kameelah Williams, a high-school friend of original members Irish and LeMisha Grinstead then joined the group.
When the Sin City natives first hit the scene in 1996 with their harmonizing blend of gospel, hip-hop, jazz and blues on their gold debut album, “No Doubt,” they were still wet-behind-the-ears teens.
With hitmaker producer/rapper Missy Elliot creating their first single, “Steelo,” it quickly became a Top 10 Gold single. The album also spawned their second Top 10 Gold single the emotion-filled ballad, “Get It Together,” written and produced by Donell Jones.
In 1997 the group was awarded a Soul Train Lady of Soul Award for Best Album by a Group. They toured with label-mates Boyz II Men on the New Edition reunion tour. They released “All I Want” which was featured as the lead single from the soundtrack of “Goodburger.” That year 702 also recorded the theme song for Nickelodeon‘s highly rated Skeeter series; made cameo appearances on Moesha, Sister Sister and the ABC-TV movie Double Platinum. Not to mention the girls signed with the Wilhelmina Modeling Agency.
Re-teaming with Missy Elliot in 1999, 702 dropped their self-titled sophomore album, which gave birth to the monster hit single “Where My Girls At.” With the sophomore release, the ladies got more involved with the business and artistic dealings of their career. 702 worked closely with the newly appointed Motown President, Kedar Massenburg, in the direction of 702. Irish stated about the project, “We really took our time getting the songs right. It was important to us that we made a project we could really be proud of.” 702 credited their manager at the time, Sonja B. Norwood (Brandy/Ray J) for helping them.
702 quickly distinguished themselves from the rest of the femme pack. For over 6 months, their platinum single “Where My Girls At” was one of the most heard songs in the country, reaching over 100 million radio listeners. The contagiously up-tempo jam peaked at the #4 spot and sat in the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 charts for more than 30 weeks. Two more singles were released from the album, “You Don’t Know” and the Missy penned “Gotta Leave.”
The next year Meelah left the group to pursue a solo career, eventually enlisting singer Faith Evans and her husband Todd Russaw, as her managers. Todd had been instrumental in her career since the start, being an executive at BIV 10 when 702 was signed. Meelah co-wrote on Faith‘s “Faithfully” album and appeared on Missy Elliott’s “Take Away” single. Meanwhile, the remaining members tried to fill Meelah‘s shoes with new members, but the new 702 lineups never gelled.
702 reappeared in 2001 with the “Pootie Tang” theme, from the movie soundtrack.
Which brings us to the release of 702‘s final album “Star.” As Meelah said in an interview some years back, it was “over before it began.” Internal drama between the ladies which caused Meelah to leave before resurfaced quickly during recording.
We were involved with that project, back then we were T M H Entertainment and we worked with Todd Russaw who managed 702 during this project and executive produced the final album. We ran their official fansite and played a huge role in marketing and promotion for the album.
The album was one of the best R&B albums that came out in 2003 and we stand behind that statement till this day! The music was superb, the vocals were flawless and the label and management support was on point!
The Neptunes contributed two tracks, “I Still Love You” as well as the club-friendly album title cut, “Star.” “Star” is the type of song that pulls you out of your chair with the melodic hook, “you’re my star.” It has shades of En Vogue-like harmonies while Meelah funks up the lead vocals with a raw edginess. The album also features production from Faith Evans, Mario Winans and a list of others.
Speaking on “Star,” “Honestly, this is the album that we are most proud of because we had a lot of control over it,” Irish said.
“When you hear this record, really you’ll hear all three of us. It’s our ideas, the things we went through and the type of record we wanted to sing.”
“We were able to let go and be who we were as individuals, so it was a breath of fresh air for us,” adds Meelah.
However in between fighting with the group members & the group not all showing up for scheduled performances, led to their label Motown Records & management Pedigree MGI halting promotion of the album.
The album peaked at #45 on the U.S. Billboard 200, and to date has sold over 100,000 copies. “Star” would be the last 702 album.
After disbanding, LeMisha released the song “What I Got” in 2007. In April 2008, founding member Orish Grinstead, unfortunately died of kidney failure. Lead singer Meelah has been actively pursuing a solo career and went on to star in TV One’s ‘R&B Divas Atlanta.’ Meelah is currently working on a full-length album.
We’ve created the essential 702 Playlist, sit back and rock to the girls of 702.