Epic ’90s nostalgia is truly incomplete without a few jams to help you get your groove on. But in the late ’80s and early ’90s, there was a new R&B sound that was rockin’ the airwaves and the dance floor. New jack swing, a contemporary sound born and bred in the New York City club scene, took over during this era. Of course, we loved Teddy Riley and Guy, Bell Biv DeVoe and Jodeci. But there were several groups that didn’t enjoy the same mainstream success. Here, we take a look at a few groups that perfectly defined the new jack sound even if they didn’t get all the love they deserved.
One of the reasons Ready for the World may not have risen to household-name fame is because its hit song, “Oh Sheila,” was often misattributed to Prince. The group, which included Melvin Riley, Gordon Strozier, Gregory Potts, WIllie Triplett, John Eaton and Gerald Valentine, released two hit albums in the mid-’80s, Ready for the World and Long Time Coming. The group has been touring lately and is set to perform in Anaheim, Calif., in December.
H-Town, the Houston-based R&B trio that debuted in the ’90s, is most known for its hit song “Knockin’ Da Boots.” The group’s first album, Fever for da Flavor, went platinum, and its two follow-ups went gold. Keven “Dino” Conner died in a car accident in 2003. The remaining duo continues to tour, and in December, they will perform in the Holiday Love Jam in Chicago and Detroit, with Shai, Silk and Jodeci.
Full Force’s “Ain’t My Type of Hype” was the track played while Kid ’n Play battled each other on the dance floor in House Party. The group also has worked with several chart-topping artists, including Backstreet Boys, NSYNC and Britney Spears. In 2012, the group’s episode of Unsung premiered on TV One.
The Waco, Texas, native quintet was best known for its No. 1 hit, “I Like the Way (the Kissing Game).” Hi-Five’s debut album was produced by the king of new jack swing, Teddy Riley, and was certified platinum. In September, the group released a music video for its new song, “Kit Kat.” In 2014, TV One aired an episode of Unsung featuring the musical act. “The future of R&B music is going back to the past,” group member Treston Irby told TV One. “I believe that artists such as Hi-Five and other ’90s groups that are able to make it back will be the future.”
Timex Social Club released the hit song “Rumors” in 1986, which peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard 100 list. The San Francisco Bay Area-based group split shortly afterward and became Club Nouveau. Little-known fact? The group won a Grammy Award for its version of Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me” in 1987. In early 2016, the group toured in several cities in the U.S., including Fresno, Calif., and Albuquerque, N.M., among others.
Between 1990 and 1992, Troop had three singles skyrocket to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hip-Hop/R&B charts, “All I Do Is Think of You,” “Spread My Wings” and “Sweet November.” The Pasadena, Calif.-based group is set to perform in Minneapolis later this month and on the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage in 2017.
Portrait, a quartet from Los Angeles, debuted in 1992. It was the group’s second hit, “Here We Go Again,” that became its biggest hit. (It reached No. 11 on the Billboard 100 charts.) The group released an independent album in 2005 called Share My Love, according to CD Baby.
Jade is the only all-female group on this list. It was Jade’s second single, “Don’t Walk Away,” that climbed the Billboard R&B charts in 1993, and later was certified gold. The group’s first hit, “I Wanna Love You,” was featured on the Sister Act 2 soundtrack. Two years ago, Jade told You Know I Got Soul that the group was preparing for a comeback—and with a new member.
Joe Public, the Buffalo, N.Y.-based quartet, released the hit song “Live and Learn” in 1992. It reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Members of the group have produced and composed songs for artists such as Lecrae, Keith Sweat and other R&B artists. But there isn’t much info on the internet about what they’ve been up to in the last few years.
These teenyboppers had a couple of big hits in the ’90s, including the forever-stuck-in-your-head “Iesha” and “Playground.” The Atlanta-based group was discovered by Michael Bivins of New Edition, and although they had a short shelf life as a musical act, they left a lasting impression, if only on their young fans. In the last two decades, the group has kept a low profile, with only this photo from celeb blog Necole Bitchie appearing in 2008.