Meet RBRM, the Artists Formerly Known as New Edition

Illustration for article titled Meet RBRM, the Artists Formerly Known as New Edition
Photo: Ilya S. Savenok (Getty Images)

At 49, it takes a lot more work for the King of R&B, Bobby Brown, now a grandfather to two, to hump around. But at a showcase for RBRM (Ronnie DeVoe, Bobby Brown, Ricky Bell and Mike Bivins), part of the group formerly known as New Edition, Brown gave the audience a preview of what to expect on the tour with a few air humps while he sang “Roni.”


Brown still has it.

His voice is impeccable and he can still woo a crowd and make them laugh. He jokes to the crowd that his hips don’t work as well as they used to. In preparation for RBRM’s upcoming tour, choreographer Brooke Payne has Brown, DeVoe, Bell and Bivins in boot camp. They’re eating right, living clean, drama free and married up—a far cry from the fighting, drugging and womanizing we saw on BET’s New Edition Story.

Some may be asking about the new name, but that itself comes with some drama. Strangely enough, Ralph Tresvant holds the trademark to the New Edition name and Tresvant, Johnny Gill and Keith Sweat will be doing spot dates on their own tour.

The boys of RBRM, rolling with their own clique, are now grown ass men who definitely put family first.

Last July, DeVoe and his wife welcomed twins. Brown, who goes by “Pop Pop” to his grandkids, welcomed his second grandchild recently. Bell and his wife are celebrating 14 years of marriage and just recorded a song together entitled “Gold.” And this past May, Bivins and his wife welcomed their fourth child. “One wants to be a dancer, another is picking up a basketball and the other wants to be like her sister,” Bivins told The Root during an interview.

DeVoe and his wife are serving their community as marriage ambassadors and have an upcoming Married for Life Walk coming up in September. “After 12, almost 13 years of marriage and being on the brink of divorce and coming back based on communication and commitment and seeing the blessing of our children, being marriage ambassadors is important to us,” said DeVoe.


The biopics didn’t end with the New Edition Story; Brown’s BET story, produced by him and his wife, airs Sept. 4 and 5 ahead of their tour which begins on Sept. 6. “There’s a lot that’s gonna shock a lot of people. I didn’t hold back. No holds barred. It’s going to be about what I’ve been through in my life, the losses, the ups and downs, and how I’ve survived all of it. The touring and the women, the women, the women. I’m still working on myself,” he said. “God is working on me.”

Family is a huge part of Brown’s life, and especially being a father and grandfather nowadays.


“What people don’t know about Bobby is what a great father he is,” said Bell. “I see him with his kids and how much he lights up when he interacts with them. What a good friend he is and hard worker he is. His life is going to speak to people that he’s never seen and the world is watching. God wants to use him.”

In addition to the biopic, Brown also has a solo album coming out that’s attached to the movie. “People will be hearing it really soon,” Brown said. “I am really sure BBD will be doing another album. Ricky just did a solo album with his wife. We just keep it going. There’s never a time when we are not trying to create more and more content for people to enjoy New Edition.”


In the New Edition Story, the demons each member dealt with were exposed, and although some just assumed Brown was the only one fighting addictions, Bell’s were also discussed.

“Good friends would tell me when I was trying to save face and look good. They would say you can’t save your face and your ass at the same time, so you really have to choose one. I learned that by being honest about my situation it would hopefully inspire and encourage others who are going through similar situations to open up and ask for help. I worried that people would ridicule me. It was all just fear,” Bell says.


Right now the guys are eating gluten-free foods and in training with Brooke Payne for the tour. “Brooke keeps us on our P’s and Q’s,” said DeVoe. “We are eating right. We have all damn near turned into vegans. Bobby is eating his vegetables, turning his trot into a jog. We have those New Edition for lifers and we want them to get their money’s worth.”

“To be able to use our celebrity and notoriety and influence and impact people’s lives is the ultimate purpose of life,” DeVoe continued. “My mom always tells me you are blessed to be a blessing to others.”


RBRM begins their tour in Ontario, Calif. on Sept. 6 .

I am an author, journalist and professor. My first book, Love, Peace and Soul, the behind-the-scenes story of the television show, Soul Train, was published in 2013.



I’m too old to be learning new acronyms for a group with 30+ years in the game. I’m either going to call them New Edition or Air Bnb because that’s what that acronym looks like.