After 20 Years, No End Of The Road For Boyz II Men | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : Tell Me More

Filed Under:

After 20 Years, No End Of The Road For Boyz II Men

Play associated audio

Boyz II Men members Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman and former member Michael McCary began cementing themselves in R&B history in 1991. Their single "Motownphilly" became a hit and was followed by a series of other chart-topping songs. The group has earned four Grammy awards, performed around the world and sold tens of millions of albums.

Their latest album, Twenty, features 10 new songs and 10 past hits. It marks their two decades of entertaining a generation of loyal fans.

They join Tell Me More guest host Tony Cox to reflect on their careers and sing a few songs.

"We came up at a time where there was an R&B group pretty much on every street corner, and every record company had one," says Nathan Morris, "but now, it's dwindled down to solo artists, or the duets, or even bigger bands — where you have bands like The Roots that got seven or eight people — but the actual R&B group is a dinosaur."

Wanya Morris says the genre grew beyond what people were typically tuning into. "The R&B circuit still was there," he says. "It just had very little validity in a time when people were saying, 'I'm into having sex; I'm not into making love,' where Boyz II Men, R&B singers — that's all we sing about. ... And we have to take a backseat until it's time for people to want to make love again."

Their hit "I'll Make Love to You" was on the 1994 album II. They say the best thing they did for that album was record it away from their Philadelphia home, in a place without distractions: a studio called Granny's House in Nevada.

Losing A Member

"We kind of had our own personal meetings as a group to make sure that we all stayed focused on what the idea was. ... Unfortunately, throughout the project, we saw Mike [McCary] was slipping," says Nathan Morris. "He wasn't really focusing on the things that needed to be done. He'd show up late; he missed a couple of events. ... We were kind of put in the spot where we either had to shut it down or go, so we just went out there and tried to do it ourselves as a threesome. ... Mentally, we said to ourselves, 'Let's just prepare, just in case he does not come back.' "

McCary went on to pursue an individual career.

Growing From Boys To Men

Guest host Tony Cox points out that the group began singing as boys (in high school), but after 20 years, they have become men — so how about a name change, possibly "Men to Better Men"? With a laugh, Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris and Stockman unanimously reject the idea.

"The name 'Boyz II Men' simply means growth," Wanya Morris says. "We're always going to be striving to reach the perfection of being a man. ... And hopefully, with the blessing of God, we can reach that one day. But now, at this point, we got a lot of wisdom and everything to gain in order to even consider ourselves to be full-faceted men without those boyish qualities that keep us who we are."

He adds that maybe the boy quality he cannot relinquish is spending long hours watching cartoons: "I sit in a room all day, from probably the time I get there until the time I go to the show, to watch Cartoon Network in my undies, in my tank top. It's beautiful."

Nathan Morris says, "One of the reasons why the name is so strong for us is that our music tends to bridge generation gaps. ... We sill have 9-year-olds coming to concerts, singing 'End of the Road,' and they were never even here."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

If These Shorts Could Talk ... New Book Tells 'Worn Stories'

In her new collection Worn Stories, Emily Spivack compiles odes to beloved pieces of clothing, written by celebrities and fashionistas.
NPR

Can Oxfam Nudge Big Food Companies To Do Right?

Oxfam is scoring the 10 biggest food companies on a scale of 1 to 10 on a host of issues, from worker rights to climate change. But will promises translate into concrete changes?
NPR

Rick Perry's Legal Trouble: The Line Between Influence And Coercion

The Texas governor is charged with abuse of office and coercing a public official, but he claims he was just doing what governors do: Vetoing a budget item.
NPR

Beware: Your Uber Ride May Come With A Side Of Oversharing

The "sharing economy" has created a lot of solutions for cheap rides and places to stay. In a piece for Ozy.com, Pooja Bhatia writes about one undesired byproduct: oversharing.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.