For those people that have been feenin’ for more New Edition as the last episode of the BET mini-series on the group airs tonight, the new Bell Biv DeVoe project will give you what you need.
Their new album, “Three Stripes”, drops this Friday with production work from new schoolers and old school hip-hop beat-makers alike, including Erick Sermon, Doug E. Fresh, DJ Battlecat and Naughty by Nature’s Kay Gee.
The 10-track album is the classic BBD sound that caused Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to urge the underdogs of New Edition to pursue a career as a spin-off trio in 1989. Three Stripes, their first studio album in 16 years, happened by accident after their first single, “Run,” was produced and written by Erick Sermon. They'd been courting him since they were young New Edition-ers who loved EPMD.
“We kept trying to reach Erick because we wanted to get that Green Eyed Bandit funk,” said Bell, talking about the time when they were on tour with New Edition two years ago. “EPMD is one of our favorite hip-hop groups, BBD has funky bass lines and EPMD has funky bass lines.”
When they finally caught up with Sermon, they cut the first single, “Run,” a tale of unrequited love with a frenetic beat and traded verses like old school BBD. The cut, a Top Ten hit already after its September release, features the Herb Alpert sample “Rise” that put Notorious BIG’s “Hypnotize” on the map.
They were so inspired that they decided to produce an entire album.
The first three singles, “Ready” featuring Doug E. Fresh beat-boxing and providing an intro to the group presumably for new schoolers, “Find a Way,” and “I’m Betta,” are nostalgic '90s style BBD Hip-Hop offerings with R&B hooks.
By the fourth track, “Hot Damn,” produced by Nova and Ocean for Silent Killers Music (Christina Millian, Lil’ Wayne) they are sprinting with infectious club beats.
Following this single there are no throwaways.
“Don’t Go”, produced by DJ Battlecat (Snoop, Xzibit) is the hottest track on the album next to “Run,” a slow-jam funk ballad in the style of Jodeci’s unapologetic romance meets b-boy.
“Finally”, featuring Coko from SWV and Bell singing a classic duet and “One More Try,” featuring Boyz II Men are quiet storm-styled ballads.
Three Stripes is a solid re-entry into the game, mixing their Timberland tough beats with seductive classic vocals on traditional ballads in a project that Bivins says offers the same "hip-hop smoothed out on the R&B tip with a pop feel appeal to it," they came into the game with nearly 20 years ago.