What Had Happened Was…Rap And R&B Groups That Didn’t Last Through The Fame
Making it in the music industry as a solo artist is hard enough but when there are two or more people in a group, tensions are bound to arise because mo’ money plus mo’ people equal mo’ problems. Although they made beautiful music together, these 15 popular rap and R&B groups just couldn’t set aside their differences in the long run.
Afrocentric alternative hip-hop group Arrested Development became very popular in the early 90’s. Founded by Speech and his former best friend, DJ Headliner, along with Dionne Farris and spiritual leader Baba Oje, they are best known for their song “Everyday People.” In 1993 the group won Grammys for Best New Artist and Best Rap Performance. They were also tapped by Spike Lee to record a song for his “Malcolm X” biopic that same year. However, Arrested Development never eclipsed the success they had with their debut album. Their sophomore album was panned by critics and shortly after that the group broke up due to “creative differences.” The band patched things up four years later but things were never the same as they struggled to reclaim their popularity in the U.S. Today, the group continues to tour internationally and released their 10th album in 2012.
Two music producers from Oakland held auditions for a singing group in 1989 and En Vogue was born. Their rich and soulful voices blended together harmoniously and these four powerhouse singers rocketed to stardom. Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones, Dawn Robinson, and Terry Ellis went on to experience enormous success, becoming one of the most successful female singing groups of all time. En Vogue would win numerous awards and receive tons of accolades in the 90’s before Robinson abruptly left the group over stalled contract negotiations in 1997; Jones left the group four years later. Though a new member joined the two members who remained, En Vogue never reached its previous pinnacle of success. A few years later the original four reunited but this proved to be short-lived. In August of 2012, Jones and Robinson announced they were once again leaving the group, this time to create their own En Vogue, ultimately creating a showdown in court for the group’s name.
Beyonce was introduced to the world as part of the quartet Destiny’s Child in the early 90’s. Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland, LaTavia Roberson and LeToya Luckett experienced modest success with their first album, but it wasn’t until “Bills, Bills, Bills,” was released that Destiny’s Child became a household name. The group went through a shuffle lineup after Roberson and Luckett expressed their dissatisfaction with having Beyonce’s father, Matthew Knowles, as their manager. After the legal turmoil was cleared up, Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin, were brought in, but only Michelle remained. Before they decided to officially split up for good to pursue solo ventures, Destiny’s Child went on to sell more than 50 million albums worldwide. Their success was overshadowed by Beyonce’s career, as she continued to put out hit after hit after hit, but the trio was briefly reunited at last month’s Super Bowl in New Orleans.
The Supremes helped to put Detroit’s Motown Records on the map in the 1960s by becoming the biggest act on their roster. Diana Ross, Florence Ballard, and Mary Wilson won fans over with their big hair, sequined outfits and silky smooth voices. In 1967, Berry Gordy officially changed the group’s name to Diana Ross & the Supremes. However the limelight proved to be too crowded for a group. After Ross’ departure in 1970, the group went back to their original name and went though a series of singers. Nearly two decades and ten singers later, the Supremes officially broke up. The Supremes will go down in the history books for laying the foundation for other R&B acts to follow. The broadway play and eventual movie “Dreamgirls” was loosely based on the history and inner turmoil of the Supremes.
Before she became an internationally renowned solo artist, Patti LaBelle was a member of the 1960’s singing group that went through several name changes before settling on LaBelle. Joined by Nona Hendryx, Cindy Birdsong, and Sarah Dash, LaBelle experienced modest success with doo-wop and ballad songs. The women within the group had various visions for Labelle; Patti LaBelle yearned to return to her original ballad roots, Dash preferred disco, and Hendryx wanted to jump on the fad of rock. Tensions finally came to a head in 1976 during a performance in Baltimore when Hendryx famously left the stage in the middle of a concert. Hendryx was later hospitalized and the group disbanded. Pattie LaBelle went on to blossom as a solo artist and eventually received her own star on the famed Hollywood Walk of Fame. Years later LaBelle would reunite and record their first album in 32 years.
The Fugees were sitting on the top of the world in 1996. After finding modest success with their first album, “Blunted On Reality,” members Wyclef, Lauryn Hill and Pras were catapulted to superstardom with “The Score.” The Fugees snagged two Grammys, including Best Rap Album, before deciding to take a break in order to work on separate projects the following year. Though there was talk of a new album and even a new single released in 2005, the three could never work out their differences. Finally in 2012, Wyclef came forward to admit that the reason behind the breakup of one of the great hip-hop groups of all time broke up because of his relationship with Ms. Hill.
The Jackson 5
Father and manager Joe Jackson knew his children were an exceptionally and musically-gifted bunch and introduced the world to five of his offsprings in 1964. With their full afros and colorful bellbottoms, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael Jackson sang and danced their way into America’s homes and hearts. The group would go on to dominate the music charts, television screens and stadiums across the globe until youngest brother Michael branched out on his own. After meeting producer Quincy Jones on the set of the movie “The Wiz,” the two paired up to work on Michael’s solo debut. 1979’s “Off The Wall” went on to sell over 20 million copies and after the release of his second album, “Thriller,” is was clear Michael was meant to go at it alone. Marlon left shortly after to pursue other business ventures and although they continued to tour and release music, The Jackson 5 took a backseat to Jackson’s megastardom. The group reunited years later for one final performance celebrating Michael’s 30 years in the industry. After Michael’s death, the group tried one more time to give it a go but canceled their 38-city tour after just 11 shows.
The Fat Boys burst on the scene in 1984 with their debut album. The three overweight rappers, Prince Markie Dee, Kool Rock-Ski, and the show-stealing human beatbox Big Buff Love, were soon everywhere from Swatch commercials to the movie screen. Just five years later, things came to an abrupt end when the group parted ways with their longtime manager. The group soon broke up upsetting fans everywhere and even Jay-Z alluded to the break-up of The Fat Boys on his song, ‘Heart Of The City (Ain’t No Love).” Prince Markie Dee went on to become a producer, making early hits for Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey, before settling into the role as a radio DJ. Buff died of a heart attack in 1995 in his Queens, NY, home of a massive heart attack at the age of 28.
In 1993, producer Jermaine Dupri introduced the world to four young girls from his hometown of Atlanta. By the end of the year, LaTocha and Tamika Scott, Kandi Burruss and Tameka “Tiny” Cottle, better known as Xscape, had everyone “Just Kickin It.” They went on to release several albums and garner millions of fans before tensions in the group ad unresolved conflict caused Burruss to leave in search of a solo career. Xscape replaced her briefly before going on an indefinite hiatus. Tiny went on to marry T.I., one of the hottest rappers in Atlanta, and star in several reality shows before snagging her own show on Vh1. Burruss can be seen as one of the castmates of Bravo’s hugely successful “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” and Latocha Scott is gearing up to be apart of the next season of “R&B Divas.”
Eric B. and Rakim
Eric B. and Rakim helped changed the sound of hip-hop with their hard-hitting lyrics, coupled with soulful and funk-inspired beats, and Eric B.’s record-scratching. During the golden age of hip-hop, Eric B. and Rakim were at the top of the rap game. However the duo recorded their last album, “Don’t Sweat The Technique,” in 1992. Shortly after its release, Eric B. and Rakim separated. The two ended up in court with each other and their record label and after a long and exhaustive legal battle, Eric B. and Rakim were no more. Eric B. went on to pursue other business ventures outside of the music industry. Though Rakim tried to jump start a solo career, he never experienced the same success as he did with his former partner.
Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith meant business from the first day they stepped foot on the stage. One of hip-hop’s most prolific duos, EPDM were known for their hardcore lyrics over brass, rock-inspired beats and samples. The two dominated the rap scene in the late 80’s and early 90’s, but when Smith became the victim of a home invasion and fingers were pointed to his partner in rhyme, things were never the same. Sermon was arrested and briefly detained. Although no charges were filed the group broke up in 1993. Several reunions later, EPMD continue to perform together and separately.
TLC is one of the most successful hip-hop groups ever. With their brash attitudes and provocative lyrics, with outfits to match, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, rapper Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, and singer Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas sold over six million records the first time out of the gate. By the mid-90’s, TLC racked up Grammys, Billboard and MTV Video Music Awards, along with millions and millions of fans, but the world was shocked to find out the group had to file for bankruptcy in 1995. Towards the late 90’s, Left Eye was ready to explore solo projects which further caused tension between the girls. She left the group to work on other projects and challenged her former bandmates to release separate albums simultaneously but was killed in a car crash while vacationing in Honduras in 2002. T-Boz and Chilli have performed together on occasion since the death of Left Eye but have gone of to find modest success as reality television stars with separate shows.
Kid ‘n Play
Kid ‘n Play was a popular rap duo back in the 80’s. Christopher ‘Kid’ Reid and Chris ‘Play’ Martin were known for their often funny lyrics. After releasing several albums, Kid ‘n Play decided to branch out into acting. They reached new heights in their careers with 1990’s “House Party,” a movie originally slated for DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. This spawned several sequels and even landed the duo a cartoon that only lasted for one season. Kid ‘n Play were so popular, they had their own dance. However, nothing lasts forever. Eventually Kid ‘n Play moved on; Reid continued acting while Martin became a born-again Christian. The pair recently performed with Salt-N-Pepa at a concert in Brooklyn, NY.
Boy band B2K won the hearts of swooning fans everywhere when they first popped onto the scene in 2001. Composed of Omarion, J-Boog, Raz-B and Lil Fizz, this darling foursome released two platinum albums and sold out concerts across the country. In 2003, B2K announced the group was calling it quits. Though it was initially reported that discrepancies with money and internal disagreements were the original cause of the split, Raz-B soon came forward to say he was molested by their manager Chris Stokes. Though Stoke categorically denied any wrongdoing or inappropriate touching, it was clear there would be no more B2K. Omarion went on his own way as a solo artist and is currently signed under Rick Ross’ label Maybach Music Group.
Sean “Diddy” Combs seemingly had the midas touch back in the 90’s. Responsible for helping launch the careers of Mary J. Blige and Jodeci, Diddy’s Bad Boy Records introduced us to Kima Raynor, Keisha Spivey, and Pamela Long, otherwise known as Total. Some of the group’s biggest hits included “Can’t You See?” “No One Else,” and “What About Us.” In 2000, Spivey decided to leave the group after she married actor Omar Epps. Long went off to pursue a solo career but she failed to reach the success she shared with Total. There was talk of a reunion in 2012 but nothing has come of it yet.