Drake took everyone on a mental trip to the past over the weekend when he released four new tracks, including the standout freestyle titled “Jodeci.” While the connection between Drake, the song title and the group’s name didn’t stand out initially, the rapper’s dad explained how his son studied the group and reminds Drake that the group’s music “is where all the feeling comes from” in the music the OVO artist makes now.
Putting that thought with what we’ve come to know as Drizzy’s style made us realize that maybe Jodeci had a larger influence on Drake than any other musical act out there. Yet, it doesn’t just stop at Drake as musical supremacy still permeates through music today, living on in sound and sight through artists across multiple genres. Here, we point out 11 different ways Jodeci changed the game and why we should all be thankful.
1. Forever My Lady, the album
When Jodeci arrived on the music scene, it was on the wings of Forever My Lady, their debut album originally released in 1991 by Uptown/MCA. The group was made up of two sets of brothers – K-Ci and JoJo Hailey, both of whom handled singing duties, alongside DeVante Swing, who handled production, and Mr. Dalvin, who nobody knows what the hell he did in the group so maybe nepotism was at play.
Styled by a young Sean “Puffy” Combs, they were four highly capable musicians who gained notice for their talents, their adaption of the popular “new jack swing” style of uptempo production mixed with R&B vocals and their street-wise, rap-influenced dress. Their first album sold 3x platinum and included three #1 hit singles, including the title track, which was arguably the biggest love ballad of the ’90s and a quintessential cut for any wedding playlist.
2. Love Ballads
The group had a host of hits that song of love in the traditional mold of R&B but with their updated flavor. Pick up any one of the first three albums and they were balanced out by honest, sincere slow jams, ranging from “I’m Still Waiting” to “U & I” and “Alone.”
3. They (Indirectly) Helped Birth Bad Boy Records
That’s right. Puffy rode the success of Jodeci right out the doors of Uptown Records to form his own label. And he took with him his successful script of how to mold artists into larger than life superstars.
Another oft-forgotten element: Puffy laid the groundwork for the remix here by totally revamping album tracks like “Come & Talk To Me.”
4. Hello, Mary J. Blige
Consider her the solo, female version of the group as Puffy used the same format – from sound to style of dress – to make Mary in the image of Jodeci. Then, that’s not to mention how her work and tumultuous relationship with group member K-Ci inspired many of her early hit songs and albums. In the end, their love affair spawned many a great moment while both acts were signed to Uptown.
5. The Rap Connection
When Wu-Tang’s Raekwon and Ghostface Killah collided with Jodeci in 1995, both groups and their respective genres were riding high. The “Freek’N You” remix wasn’t the first Rap&B collaboration yet it was clearly one that worked for all parties involved. When Rae recited the line “you got stacks like the International House Of Pancakes,” R&B would never be the same again once the two worlds clashed. The song lived on Clue mixtapes and in college girls’ dorm rooms.
The group also had solid hooks for a bevy of other rap acts as well. When K-Ci & JoJo weren’t lacing hits with 2Pac from his prime Death Row days (“How Do You Want It” & “Toss It Up”), you could find these two R&B renegades rocking with everyone from Gangstarr (“Royalty”) to E-40 & Too $hort (“Player’s Ball”).
Jodeci Ft. Raekwon & Ghostface Killah – “Freekn’N You (Mr. Dalvin’s Freek Mix)
6. Sartorial Trendsetters
Surely, no one’s forgotten that glorious Draka meme that took over the web last month. Take a closer look at Drake’s attire in the meme then peep Jodeci’s first video, “Forever My Lady,” and the resemblance is uncanny.
They looked everything like rappers of the time – baggy clothes (to be more specific, they wore “short sets” that could purchased at any urban retailer), the military-style boots and the backwards baseball cap for guys – but they were guys singing about their everlasting love for a women? New territory for the genre and its fans, however today it’s almost the norm and not just an exception. What it meant in the early ’90s was ruffnecks and hooligans weren’t the only ones allowed to adopt the rugged style. Which lead up to…
7. R&B Thugs
Trey Songz made a lane for himself in the mid-2000s doing so. Jaheim pull it off for a minute (at least until he looked like an anorexic Grimace in that bathroom photo at Whitney Houston’s funeral). Chris Brown is neck deep in the image now. R&B thugs may not have started with Jodeci, but there hasn’t been anyone else to make the role as believable since KCi, JoJo, DeVante and Mr. Dalvin.
8. Their Martin Appearance
We’ve spoken on this before, but when Martin hijacked Jodeci’s performance on The Varnell Hill Show, one of the iconic moments in ’90s sitcom history was etched in stone. Diehard fans of the show or casual viewers simply know this as the “Jodeci episode.”
9. Possibly Upstaging Stevie Wonder
It rarely happens, if it ever has. However, when The Mad Band covered Stevie Wonder’s “Lately,” the argument was born the latter topped the original. The soul KCi poured into the lyrics is unparalleled. Check the 2:40-2:44 of the video if proof is needed. There’s no way to tell if the lyrics were dedicated to Mary J., but it makes the story behind the performance that much more trill in hindsight.
10. The Spinoff
Clearly K-Ci & JoJo are best known for their come-up with Jodeci. However, you could make an argument that during the two year span during 1997 and 1998, these two musically-blessed brothers side project Love Always was even bigger than their group success. With a refined image and intentions of crossing over, the brothers Haily took the world by storm with chart-topping records like “Last Night’s Letter” and “Don’t Rush” steaming up high school dance floors one slow dance at a time for years to come.
11. The Greatest Wedding Song Ever?
As stated previously, “Forever My Lady” was arguably one of biggest love ballads of the ’90s. The only track that could possibly top it? It came from within the group itself, more specifically K-Ci and JoJo. “All My Life” was found on the duo’s 1997’s album Love Always and soared the charts, landing at number one in multiple countries. Along the way and well after, the record has remained a constant feature to many a couple’s walk down the aisle.