The R&B vocal duo Ruff Endz formed in the mid-1990s and entered the national music scene in 2000 with the hit single “No More” and the debut album Love Crimes. Known for their emotionally charged lyrics and their soulful, penetrating vocals, Ruff Endz blends classic R&B with a smooth, powerfully produced modern sound. The two vocalists, David “Davinch” Chance and Dante “Chi” Jordan, mix love ballads with songs about ghetto life, and harmonize a deep baritone croon (Chi’s) with a higher, nuanced tenor (Davinch’s). In 2002 they released Someone To Love You, their highly anticipated follow-up album.
Davinch and Chi lived on the same block when they were children and started singing together as high school students in the ghettos of West Baltimore, Maryland. Chi, who was a talented young street dancer as well as a singer, had entered high school a year late, after what he called “some crazy times in the streets” in Billboard. Davinch, the son of a preacher and the youngest of ten brothers, all of them musical, cultivated his love for song in his father’s church. He had started singing gospel when he was four years old.
The duo was originally part of a teenage hip-hop quartet. But the chemistry between Chi and Davinch was particularly strong, and they eventually split off from the group. Their vocal styles—Chi’s rich baritone and Davinch’s smooth, higher tenor—mixed well together, and the two teenagers shared a love for R&B classics. “Growing up we listened to R&B legends like Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, but we’re also into today’s real R&B artists, like K-Ci and JoJo, and Dru Hill,” Davinch told VH1.com. “Although we were influenced by those guys, we worked hard to develop our own sound, style and flavor.”
While they honed their music, Chi and Davinch performed at local venues. One of these was the Fudgery, a popular youth hangout where Dru Hill, also a Baltimore native, had performed as well. Chi and Davinch drew a local following, but the pair decided not to seek a recording contract until both of them had graduated from high school.
“We made an agreement that nothing would stop us,” Chi told Jeff Lorez of Billboard. “There’s a lot of adversity in urban Baltimore; it’s like the Wild West. People we grew up with were getting shot, and we had to deal with that while trying to pursue our dream. What we’ve been through is reflected in our music.”
In 1994 they embarked on what would become a four-year struggle to land a recording contract. They chose the name Ruff Endz to reflect their hardships during that period. “Man, we went through such a hard time struggling, trying to get a deal,” Chi told Lorenz. “It was literally rough making ends meet.”
Through a local acquaintance, Chi and Davinch met Troy Patterson, a songwriter, producer, and manager based in Teaneck, New Jersey. Patterson helped the duo record their first demo tape, which they sent to unresponsive record companies. Discouraged but persevering, Chi and Davinch found that doors began to open based on their strong local reputation. A writer acquaintance recommended the duo to Los Angeles-based producer Oji Pierce, who had worked with R&B star Montell Jordan, and he recorded their second demo tape. It was this demo that caught the attention of Sony Music talent scout Ron Grant. Grant passed the demo on to Dave McPherson, executive vice president of urban music at Epic Records, a division of Sony. Chi and Davinch signed with Epic in 1998, keeping Patterson as Ruff Endz’s manager through Third St. Management.
In the 18 months it took to create Ruff Endz’s first album, Love Crimes, the pair recorded more than 30 songs, and from these they selected a dozen tracks. Involved in the recordings were several producers, including Pierce, who cut the title track, as well as Manuel Seal (producer for Mariah Carey and Usher) and Brian Cox (producer for Noontime).
In March of 2000 the promotion department at Epic sent out a limited mailing of the duo’s first single, “No More,” which they targeted to club DJs. Since some of these clubs had tie-ins with radio stations, the single began airing on R&B stations even before its official debut in late April. This created a buzz about the duo, and generated anticipation for the single’s release. “No
Members include vocalists David “Davinch” Chance and Dante “Chi” Jordan.
Duo formed in West Baltimore, MD, 1994; signed with Epic Records, 1998; released first hit single, “No More,” and debut album, Love Crimes, 2000; released sophomore album, Someone to Love You, 2002.
Addresses: Record company —Sony Music Entertainment Inc., 550 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022-3211. Website—Ruff Endz Official Website: http://www.ruffendz.com.
More” would spend several on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart in the summer of 2000.
By the time Love Crimes was released in August of 2000, Ruff Endz were already a sensation. Listeners picked up on the raw, emotive lyrics about love and ghetto life, which the duo based on their real-life experiences. Popular tracks included “Missing You,” cowrit-ten while the duo was on the road and missing their girlfriends; “I Apologize,” a love song featuring Chi’s deep bass lead; and the danceable, upbeat “Messin’ Around.”
Fans eagerly anticipated Ruff Endz’s second album, which arrived two years after the duo’s debut. Like Love Crimes, this 14-song release—2002’s Someone to Love You— was created with multiple, diverse producers. These included Corey Rooney and Troy Oliver, who produced the album’s title love ballad. Another collaborator was the rapper Memphis Bleek, who added lyrics to the club track “Cash, Money, Cars, Clothes.” Other popular tracks included “Love of All Time (Will You Be Mine),” “You Mean the World to Me,” and “Look to the Hills,” penned by Davinch after the 2001 death of his father.
Popular with music critics, club DJs, and listeners, Someone to Love You solidified Ruff Endz’s standing in the world of modern R&B music. Yet the duo did not take their success for granted. “We’ve seen too many artists have it all one day and lose it all the next,” Davinch told VH1 .com. “Since we’re in this for the long run, we’re making sure that our business and creative aspects are properly taken care of.”
Love Crimes, Sony, 2000.
Someone to Love You, Epic, 2002.
Billboard, June 17, 2000.
Chicago Sun-Times, October 27, 2000, p. 8.
Daily News (New York), August 28, 2000, p. 36.
“Ruff Endz,” All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (November 4, 2002).
“Ruff Endz Dazzle Club Crowd with Sensitive, Emotional Singing,” VH1.com, http://www.vh1.com/artists/news/1123494/08282000/ruff_endz.jhtml (November 4, 2002).
Ruff Endz Official Website, http://www.ruffendz.com (November 4, 2002).
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