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If Boyz II Men are portrayed as a clean-cut, wholesome R&B vocal group, then Jodeci's wild, sexual, bad-boy image represents the other side of the coin. Made up of two sets of brothers, the group's name is a consolidation of three members' aliases: "JoJo" Hailey, Donald "DeVante Swing" DeGrate, and Cedric "K-Ci" Hailey; the group also includes Dalvin DeGrate. Natives of Charlotte, NC, all four members toured the South as young boys singing gospel music, even recording albums; both families belonged to the Pentecostal church, and the DeGrates' father was a minister. The boys were able to hear each other's gospel songs played on the radio, and eventually were introduced through girlfriends as teenagers. However, when they did meet, K-Ci was with a girl Dalvin had been dating, and a fight nearly broke out. The Hailey brothers and DeVante started hanging out together, partying and talking about making R&B records together, coming up with the name Jodeci at this time.
At age 16, DeVante ran away to Minneapolis to get a job in Prince's organization, but was refused. He returned to Charlotte, where he wrote a song and recorded JoJo singing it. The two planned on going to New York to shop the demo around by themselves, but both K-Ci and Dalvin decided to tag along at the last minute. By the time they got to New York, they had demo recordings of 29 songs, which they brought to the offices of Uptown Entertainment. They were almost rejected, but rapper Heavy D overheard the tape and talked Uptown president Andre Harrell into hearing the group. Harrell was impressed, and just like that, Jodeci signed a recording contract. In 1991, they recorded Forever My Lady, which featured the gold single "Come and Talk to Me" and went on to sell over three million copies. A minor feud resulted over the band's follow-up album, Diary of a Mad Band; Jodeci, unhappy with their treatment by Uptown, flirted with the idea of leaving for Dr. Dre's Death Row Records, which resulted in almost zero promotion for their new album. It didn't matter much, as Diary went platinum. The group's troubles got worse in 1993; DeVante and K-Ci were involved in an incident with a woman K-Ci met at a club and brought back to DeVante's apartment. The woman filed charges against the two, saying that K-Ci had threatened her and fondled her breast, while DeVante pointed a gun at her. Both pleaded guilty, but that wasn't all; shortly afterwards, DeVante's house was robbed of over 160,000 dollars in jewelry and clothes as the singer was held with guns in his mouth and at the back of his head.
Jodeci's third album, The Show, the After Party, the Hotel, was released in the summer of 1995. DeVante also was afforded the opportunity to work with Al Green, one of his idols, writing and producing the song "Could This Be the Love."
Jodeci (sometimes stylized as JoDeCi) is an American band, whose repertoire includes R&B, soul music, and new jack swing. The group consists of two pairs of brothers from Charlotte, North Carolina: Cedric & Joel Hailey and Donald & Dalvin DeGrate, all respectively known by their stage names: K-Ci & JoJo, DeVante Swing and Mr. Dalvin. The group's name is a combination of the names from all four members: Jo-Jo, DeGrate, and K-Ci.
The group had a successful string of hit singles and platinum albums until the members went on hiatus after 1998. The Hailey brothers continued to perform together under the pseudonym K-Ci & JoJo, and had success on the pop charts beyond that of the original band. In 2009, the group rebanded for H-Town's song, "Knockin' Boots".
The Haileys meet the DeGrates and Uptown Records
Both from a Pentecostal background, the Haileys and DeGrates originally performed and recorded with both appearing on the locally produced "Charlotte's Furious Black Family Gospel Songs" compilation. They would eventually meet each other through their respective girlfriends.
DeVante traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota when he was sixteen to audition for Prince's band, but was turned down. He then returned to Charlotte, North Carolina to record a song JoJo was performing. Soon, the two went to New York City to shop their demo tapes in hopes of getting signed. K-Ci and Dalvin both decided to tag along, and joined their respective brothers for the trip. Eventually, hip hop artist and record producer Heavy D heard one of the tapes and loved it. He talked Uptown Records CEO Andre Harrell into listening to the tape, who was impressed enough to sign the group.
The group was assigned to Uptown executive Sean "Puffy" Combs, who took on the task of developing the new act. He helped the group create its rough hip-hop-based image. Jodeci were exposed to the public by singing background vocals on a number of singles by Father MC. K-Ci also contributed background vocals (alongside Uptown labelmates Terri Robinson and Tabitha Brace) on some tracks for Ralph Tresvant, produced by Kyle West, and Jasmine Guy's solo debut album, produced by D.J Eddie F of Heavy D and The Boyz. Jodeci made their live performance debut on the June 11, 1991 episode of Soul Train, while their first television interview was on BET's Video Soul a few months earlier.
According to an October 2009 interview with DeVante Swing, Jodeci is signed to what Swing feels is an unfavorable contract with record label Interscope. DeVante claims Jodeci is trying to get out of this contract. Swing also mentioned that he will be releasing a solo album in the near future. In February 2014, Timbaland revealed that he's in the process of working with Jodeci on a comeback album."Timbaland Is Working On A New Jodeci Album".
Influences and followers
Most of the elements that were eventually combined to form what became known as the "Jodeci style" originated with the work of new jack swing pioneers Keith Sweat and Teddy Riley, with an important influence being the work of Riley's three-man group Guy. Other influences which, while less obvious, were instrumental to their style, included the works of Bobby Womack, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Bobby Brown, and New Edition.
Artists and producers heavily influenced by Jodeci were those were directly or indirectly associated with them, including Mary J. Blige, Dru Hill and a number of the members of DeVante's Swing Mob collective who he discovered and nurtured: Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Nealante, Magoo, Ginuwine, Playa (who R&B singer & producer Static Major was a part of with Smoke E. Digglera, Suga (who R&B act Tweet was a part of), and Darryl Pearson.
The R&B group II D Extreme's demo deal which led them to getting signed was in part responsible by DeVante, who was a friend of band member D'Extra Wiley. While hanging out in a hotel after a Jodeci show in Washington D.C., D'Extra asked DeVante' to check out his new group, outfitted with Johnny Gill's brother Randy. That impromptu audition for DeVante led them to New York and meeting with Devante's consultants and business partners who owned Savage records, and imprint on RCA records, then on to Gasoline Alley/MCA records.
Mariah Carey repeatedly mentions Jodeci in her song 'The Impossible' from her album Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, in which she sampled 'Forever My Lady'. She also samples Jodeci's 'Freek 'n You' in her song 'Makin' It Last All Night' featuring JD. Additionally, she sampled a line in 'Bring On Da Funk' in her song 'Don't Stop (Funkin' 4 Jamaica)' in her album Glitter.
Drake and J Cole released a freestyle in June 2013 entitled 'Jodeci', paying tribute to the group and citing them as a direct influence. The song was released online via the OVO Blog.
Jodeci's last manager was Damon "Smooth" Hart from Newark, New Jersey who is associated with their former manager Bert Padell.
Awards and honors
Jodeci was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame on October 11, 2012."N.C. Music Hall of Fame offers tickets". The Salisbury Post. August 29, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2012.