Red Bull Music Academy Talks To Hank Shocklee About The Making Of Bell Biv DeVoe’s Poison

shockwebpic_rb_bellbivedevoeRed Bull Music Academy talks to our own Hank Shocklee in this look into one of the most influential tracks and groups to combine hip hop and R&B, Bell Biv DeVoe.

Key Tracks: Bell Biv DeVoe’s Poison
Four producers behind the R&B / hip hop hybrid talk about its construction

By Chris Williams

At the beginning of the 1990s – after releasing platinum selling albums throughout the previous decade – the members of New Edition mutually agreed to go on hiatus to pursue other opportunities. While lead singers Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant branched out on their own, the three remaining members: Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, and Ronnie DeVoe joined forces to form their trio, Bell Biv DeVoe. Under the purview of Louil Silas, Jr. and Hiriam Hicks, the group began working with an assemblage of high caliber producers: The Bomb Squad, Dr. Freeze and Spyderman, Alton “Wokie” Stewart and Timmy Gatling, and Carl Bourelly.

The result was an overwhelming smash, selling over four million copies. The record would spawn five singles, including the timeless hits “Poison,” “Do Me!,” “B.B.D. (I Thought It Was Me)?,” “When Will I See You Smile Again?,” and “She’s Dope!” For the album’s 25th anniversary, we spoke with Hank Shocklee from The Bomb Squad, Elliot “Dr. Freeze” Straite, Alton “Wokie” Stewart, and Carl Bourelly about their roles in constructing this groundbreaking album.

How did you become involved with working on Bell Biv DeVoe’s debut album?

HANK SHOCKLEE
I knew Michael Bivins for a long time prior to working on Bell Biv DeVoe’s album. He told me that he, Ricky, and Ronnie wanted to do a project together. Hiriam Hicks, their manager at the time, contacted The Bomb Squad to produce the record because they didn’t have any direction for the guys. For me, it was about crafting a sound [where] the rappers and the singer could co-exist together. That was the tricky part, because most of the time there were singing parts in the record, and in the break portion, the rapper came in. We couldn’t use that structure for every record. The rapping and the singing had to be married together.
At the time, rapping was still kind of underground. It was just starting to get mainstream acceptance. This allowed for the opportunity to have an R&B based rap record, as opposed to the rap records at that time, which were more street-oriented. This album was more of a bridge into the R&B world. Plus, there were producers like Teddy Riley doing New Jack Swing and Uptown Records was also having R&B singers on rap beats. The climate was right to have a group with two rappers and a singer.

Read the full article at the Red Bull Music Academy site.

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