25 Years Later…… NE Heart Break x Don’t Be Cruel
Written by Danny P Ocean on June 20, 2013
25 years ago on June 20th, New Edition and Bobby Brown both released albums that helped shape the next 5 years in music, and arguably the next 20 or so years. In fact these two albums are the plates that music acts still eat off of. Ask Usher, Justin Timberlake, Boyz II Men, Jodeci, Chris Brown, 112, and everybody that they know. In fact these 2 albums brought the NE fam from bubblegum to Grown Man Ish.
Let’s first look at Don’t Be Cruel the Bobby Brown opus. Bobby was probably one track away from becoming the Marlon Jackson of New Edition, but he fooled around and made an Off The Wall. Bobs took the lack of success from the King of Stage album and became one of the Founding Fathers of New Jack Swing. Bobby put Teddy Riley on his speed dial (If they had that back then?) and crafted a collection of songs that hit at the right time, and helped turn him into a household name. And for the next couple of years he was the hottest cat on the [planet, damn near MJ level. Damn near.
And with a quick hair cut Bobby turned from Marlon Jackson (If Marlon would have left the group first) to Michael Jackson (Off The Wall Michael). While this was going on New Edition turned from bubblegum lite (Jackson 5ive) to r&b grown (The Jacksons). First they had to shed that doo wop Earth Angel image so they brought in Johnny Gill. Next they had to get some depth to their music, so they brought in Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (the duo who turned Penny to Ms. Jackson if you nasty). And how did it work out? New Edition dropped some of their most mature music and their biggest hits as a collective.
NE Heart Break was the album that a many of groups have chased since its release. It had the perfect balance of ballads and uptempo jams. It also spawned the careers of BBD and solo Ralph, while making Johnny relevant. Without NE Heartbreak New Edition would be nothing more than a trivia question, “Name the group who made Candy Girl…..Musical Youth?”
So let us toast to our version of The Temptations; New Edition one of the great Groups of all time.