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In 1994, virtually every R&B and soul singer in the industry came together under the name Black Men United to record the song “U Will Know” for the soundtrack to Jason’s Lyric. It was a collaboration that rivaled the size of Michael Jackson’s 1985 “We are the World,” except, as the moniker notes, every single contributor to “U Will Know” was a Black man.

The uplifting track was written by D’Angelo and featured vocals from such independent artists and singing groups as Aaron Hall, After 7, Al B. Sure!, Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight, Christopher Williams, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Damion Hall, El DeBarge, Gerald LeVert, H-Town, Intro, Joe, Keith Sweat, The Rude Boys, Portrait, R. Kelly, Silk, Sovory, Stokley Williams of Mint Condition, Tevin Campbell, Raphael Saadiq, who also played bass, and Usher. Lenny Kravitz also played guitar.

It was a monumental moment in musical and Black history, and one we haven’t even come close to seeing replicated since, and may never again. These days, it’s hard to even get two singers in the business to collaborate on a track, let alone more than 30. And though we can’t say what happened behind the scenes when recording this track, the fact that so many distinct voices are able to shine on the song at just the right time is a testament to the true spirit of unity behind this collaboration.

If you don’t remember the auditory excellence of this track or need to be reminded of the perfection of Tevin Campbell and Brian McNight’s pitch, take a listen to “U Will Know” in the video below in this throwback Thursday tribute.


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