Tonight, the first part of BET’s three-part miniseries, “The New Edition Story,” debuts. If you don't think I'll be glued to my television tonight at 9pm, you're huffing glue. It’s been a good long while since I’ve been this excited about a biopic. I still have the “New Edition –Past and Present” VHS tape and would watch it if I owned a VCR. I will still attempt to argue that thought “Can You Stand The Rain,” off of their best album, 1988’s NE Heartbreak, is their most defining song, “You're Not My Kind Of Girl” (off that same album) is a much better song AND video combo.
While superfan would be a stretch (I never had posters up in my room because that would have been creepy), Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph, and Johnny, too, are kind of like my homeys. Here are 10 reasons that I’m super excited that New Edition got the mini-series biopic treatment!
1. I still sing “Cool It Now” and “Is This The End” on occasion when I’m cleaning up my kitchen with my Method All-Purpose Cleaning Spray. I’ve tried to pop-lock the way they did in “Popcorn Love” and failed miserably. I also REALLY (like really really) wanted one of those outfits they wore in the “My Secret” video. Ralph had the mean black joint. I’d wear it now.
2. NE Heartbreak? Get out of here. I’m listening to that album right now. Literally. I will fight you about this album. While I have all of their individual albums (and actual vinyl for New Edition’s early albums) this is the album that changed the game. Did you know that it came out the same day as Bobby Brown’s Don’t Be Cruel in 1988? And just so we’re clear, Don’t Be Cruel is easily one of the greatest R&B albums of all time. It’s got ONE so-so song in “Take It Slow”, but everything else? Fire. Pure fuego. Where is fuego? THAT WAY. Bobby Brown for president in 1988.
3. I remember the first time I went to Boston I wanted to see the former location of Orchard Park, the projects they (except for Johnny who is from DC) hailed from. Granted, they’re R&B, but I’m a bit of a hip-hop head about most artists I’m a fan of and the origin story is always important. Also, never go to the projects people. For one, most of them are all torn down in most major cities not named New York City, but the hood always remains intact. It’s not a good look. Most importantly though, nobody should die trying to see where Bobby Brown bought Poprocks.
4. I’ve read several articles about the upcoming biopic in various outlets from The Undefeated to The Root because you can never have enough information about groups that you know and love. Seriously, if you ever create anything worthy of note, I will devour every piece of information about how you did it. I STILL read the story of creation of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I’m a big fan of oral histories. New Edition is no different because these niggas were some niggas in every sense of the word. And there’s nothing better than a good story about niggas.
5. I mentioned it before but let’s go ahead and talk about my favorite New Edition song, “You’re Not My Kind Of Girl.” Listen, I wanted to be in this video SO badly, with a close second being “If It Isn’t Love,” which admittedly might be the PERFECT video. The moves in “You’re Not…” are crispy. The outfits? Crispy. That little Temptations slide thing they do? Crispy. I like crispy shit. That video? Crispy. And Johnny Gill’s background ad-libs towards the end? Crispy. If you don’t know me and you want to be my friend peep game: If you see me out and need a way to figure out how to talk to me, just say, “Man, New Edition’s ‘You’re Not My Kind of Girl’ is awesome, right?” Friend. For. Life.
6. “If It Isn’t Love.” Need I say more? If you’re a fan of NE, you have ABSOLUTELY tried to nail that choreography. Shit, I just closed the door in my office, closed the blinds, and tried to hit that intro spin around number and kick step. Their clothing choices…I mean, I don’t even have to say it, but…AWESOME. Plus they’re asking real questions: If it isn’t love, then why DO I feel this way? Questions that need answers, b. Seriously though, I’m watching this video again and I so badly would like to be New Edition for Halloween except we just go to a mall and recreate this video, or at least the dance steps because sticking my head in a tub of water? Girl, I guess.
7. BBD. “Poison.” Duh. Look, Ralph was for the ladies. “Sensitivity” proved that. Bobby Brown made the biggest album out of all of them. Johnny was the singer. BBD though? That was the group for the rest of us who weren’t quite sure what our talent was. Not that Bell, Biv, or Devoe weren’t talented, but Ralph, Bobby, and Johnny brought very specific things to the table. BBD kicked in the door as the cool ones who made the songs that would keep the dance floors moving. It’s no surprise that of all the songs released by the entire group, “Poison” is the one with the most staying power and legs. It gave us “never trust a big butt and a smile.” Shit the whole album was dope. Poison, indeed. And don’t even sleep on their ballads like “When Will I See You Smile Again” and “I Do Need You.” And shut up. Why? Because “Word To The Mutha (Remix)” was dope. I could go on and on here. I’ll stop now.
8. Johnny FotherMuckin’ Gill. The man with the golden voice. Sure he oversings most of the time. But shit, Johnny brought that legit singing swagger. I mean, let’s be real, these are the things that change boys to men. Right? Plus, he was the king of ad-libs on that NE Heartbreak album. He’d come thru in the background with all types of oversinging fabulousness. I can’t prove it, but I’m convinced he inspired Young Jeezy to become the ad-lib king.
9. While most of their post-debut solo albums were lackluster and all around not awesome, all of their debuts were so solid it doesn’t even matter. The fact that Ralph probably had the least successful post NE Heartbreak solo career says something. But I do still listen to his self titled debut solo album from time to time, if only to hear “Sensitivity (Ralph’s Rap)” with the Marvin Gaye sample so I can hear Ralph spit hot fire. Because Ralph was the man.
10. “Can You Stand The Rain.” Out of here. Their signature song and for all the right reasons. Johnny and Ralph trading leads. Biv with the one line “come on, let’s go get wet” and just all around good songwriting and production. Everything that you could want in a song, you got on this song. There are even birds chirping in the beginning. Where dey do dat at? Honestly, this song is the reason why we’re still talking about them.
If you're in DC, come out and watch the last night of the mini-series with VSB and The Extraordinary Negroes at a Very Extraordinary Watch Party! Tix available here: veryextraordinary.eventbrite.com