When four Atlanta, Georgia, high school students accepted an assignment to perform as a quartet at a school function in the 1990s, the event set the stage for their career as one of the major recording groups of the modern R&B era. The boy band, called 112, comprises Daron Jones, Mike Keith, Quinnes "Q" Parker, and Marvin "Slim" Scandrick. The foursome was the first to emerge as a major attraction on the startup Bad Boy Records in 1996, and by achieving multi-platinum record sales and winning an MTV video award and a Grammy, the group 112 brought crossover legitimacy to the label, which was largely the bastion of gangsta rappers.
An everyday group of school chums, Daron, Mike, Slim, and Q hailed from Walter F. George High School, and a family-like atmosphere has permeated the group from the beginning. Originally known as Forte, the group members first became acquainted in middle school, but the adolescent musical quartet was born when a teacher at their high school asked the boys to perform at a school coronation, and the four gelled musically into a polished quartet. A charismatic chemistry developed between them, and the boy band was born.
Just Regular Guys
Stylistically distinct among the group members is Marvin "Slim" Scandrick. Born on September 25, 1978, he is—by his own admission—preoccupied with his image, and takes pride in his appearance as a flashy dresser. One of three siblings, Scandrick plays all of the concert strings, including viola, cello, double bass, and violin. Vocalist Daron Jones, who often doubles as the record producer for 112, was born on December 28, 1977, the youngest of four children. As a student he joined the middle school chorus and the Atlanta Boys Choir. Strong, smart, and athletic, he maintained a B+ average in high school while playing receiver on the varsity football team and shooting guard for the varsity basketball club. He was also seen running cross country and track, and played tennis in high school.
Nearly two years younger than Jones, Michael Marcel Keith was born on December 19, 1979. One of three brothers, Keith's musical bent was reflected in his keyboard playing as a child. Reportedly his bandmates defer to him as the unofficial leader of the group.
Although the members of 112 have readily shared lead vocals from track to track, Quinnes "Q" Parker, born on March 24, 1977, is credited with the mellow vocals that define the 112 signature sound.
From School Boys to Bad Boys
Still in their teens, and still known as Forte, the quartet enlisted the professional management services of Courtney Sills and Kevin Wales, who alerted Sean "P. Diddy" Combs to the group's potential. Combs—then known as Puff Daddy or Puffy—discovered Forte while the group was performing at the Buckhead 112 Club in Buckhead, Georgia. Invited to New York by Combs, the Forte singers met at Combs's studio, called Daddy's House, where they began recording in August of 1995. "Why Did You Love Me," a b-side track, was the output of that inconspicuous first meeting, with engineer Steve Dent at the controls. Combs signed the four boys to his start-up venture, Bad Boy Records. Thereafter known as 112, the singers offered mellow, comforting harmonies that projected a wholesome image and positioned them for mainstream crossover success.
The group 112 released a debut single, "Only You," in the summer of 1996. It hit number three on the Rhythm & Blues (R&B) chart and scored as a crossover hit at number 13 on the pop charts. The selection was subsequently released as three tracks, as four tracks, and as a re-mix version with Mase and the late Christopher "Notorious B.I.G." Wallace. In July the song was certified gold, comfortably paving the way for a self-titled album debut from 112 in August. Faith Evans, B.I.G., and Craig Mack contributed cameos on 112, which achieved gold-volume sales by the end of its first week. One of the tracks, "Come See Me," was released as a single and reached number five on the R&B charts.
A series of hot single tracks by 112 populated the charts in 1997, beginning with "Come See Me," which hit the top 40 in January. "Cupid," released in May, made the top 40 and was certified gold in the same month. By August the track went platinum. Another 1997 single, "I'll Be Missing You," hit the top 40 in June and was certified triple platinum by July. Attaining the number one chart position by August, the song won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 1997. "I'll Be Missing You" sat at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for eleven weeks and spent nine weeks at the top of the Hot Singles sales. The track also topped the R&B singles, R&B singles sales, and rap singles charts for eight weeks running. The group booked tours with the Isleys, Keith Sweat, and New Edition, as well as with Puff Daddy and the Family, totaling four separate tours. The group spent 18 successive months on the road fulfilling tour commitments.
For the Record …
Members include Daron Tavaris Jones (born on December 28, 1977), production and vocals; Michael Marcel Keith (born on December 19, 1979; children: one son, Michael Keith, Jr.), vocals; Quinnes Damond "Q" Parker (born on March 24, 1977), vocals; Marvin E. "Slim" Scandrick (born on September 25, 1978; children: three), vocals.
Earliest appearances under the name of Forte, in Atlanta, GA; signed with Bad Boy Records, adopted the name 112, 1996; debut single, "Only You," 1996; debut album, 112, 1996; toured with Isley Brothers, New Edition, Puff Daddy and the Family, 1997; toured with Janet Jackson, 2001; signed with Island Def Jam, 2002; Def Jam debut, Hot & Wet, 2003.
Awards: MTV Video Music Award, Best R&B Video for "I'll Be Missing You" (featured with Faith Evans and Puff Daddy), 1997; Grammy Award, Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for "I'll Be Missing You," 1997.
Addresses: Record company—Def Jam Records, 825 8th Ave., New York, NY 10019-7416, phone: (212) 333-8000. Website—112 Official Website: http://www.defsoul.com/112/.
A new album, Room 112, hit stores in November of 1998. Both the album and its title single were certified gold, as was the album's "Love Me" track, also released as a single in November. Album sales surpassed the platinum level by May of 1999, and double platinum sales were recorded in 2002. A 2001 single, "It's Over Now," charted at the top of the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles and Tracks.
From Bad Boy to Def Jam
With multiple back-to-back hits, 112 earned recognition as the signature artists of Bad Boy Records. While the group was in production on a new album for 2001, however, executive producer Combs was called to court repeatedly, regarding a shooting incident. Instead of taping at the usual accommodations in Combs's studio, 112 went to Nashville, Tennessee, to record the new disc. It was a move that signaled a pending split with Bad Boy Records. The album, Part III, was released on March 20, 2001, following an intensive barrage of advance radio publicity. Even in the absence of Combs, Part III took off with a running start. It raced up the charts to debut at number two on the Billboard 200 chart. Surpassing gold sales in April, the album went platinum in May. To promote the album further, 112 joined Janet Jackson that summer for her All for You world tour.
Among the singles released from the album, an upbeat track called "Peaches and Cream"—which was credited in part to Combs—scored another crossover hit for the band. Released in June, the track soared to number one on the Rhythmic Top 40 and peaked at number four on the Hot 100. The group earned two award nominations for the song that year: an MTV Best Video nomination in September, and a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group.
In 2002 the group members, having matured both personally and professionally, came to the realization that a split with the Bad Boy label was necessary. In search of greater creative control, 112 broke with Bad Boy Records in February of 2002 and signed with Def Jam in July, insisting that the breakup was amicable. They reiterated this no-hard-feelings attitude by going to Daddy's House to record a debut album for Def Jam. Disagreements remained over ownership rights to the 112 catalog of songs, and Hot & Wet, the Def Jam debut disc, was waylaid as a result, while negotiations ensued between Lyor Cohen of Def Jam and Bad Boy owner Combs.
With both sides ultimately in agreement, Hot & Wet appeared in November of 2003, with its title song breaking into Billboard 's Hot 100 and the Rhythmic Top 40 that year. In 2004 the album charted on the Billboard 200 and peaked at number four on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
112, Bad Boy, 1996.
Room 112, Bad Boy, 1998.
Part III, Bad Boy, 2001.
Hot & Wet, Bad Boy/Def Jam, 2003.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 20, 2001, p. F9; August 15, 2002, p. C2.
"Entertainment: R&B fans have their number," Amarillo Globe-News, http://www.amarillonet.com/stories/041701/ent_fanshave.shtml, April 20, 2004.
"News: P. Diddy And Lyor Cohen Work Out Deal For 112," Launch, http://launch.yahoo.com/read/news.asp?contentID=212245 (March 29, 2004).
"112," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com/ (April 19, 2004).
"112 And P. Diddy Dispute Label Deal, Publishing Deal, And Last Words," Yahoo! Launch, http://launch.yahoo.com/read/news.asp?contentID=209592 (March 29, 2004).
"This summer's flavor: 'Peaches,'" USA Today, http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/2001-07-17-peaches.htm (March 29, 2004).
Members: Michael Keith (born Atlanta, Georgia, 18 December 1978); Daron Jones (born Atlanta, Georgia, 27 December 1977); Quinnes "Q" Parker (born Atlanta, Georgia, 24 March 1977); Marvin "Slim" Scandrick (born Atlanta, Georgia, 25 September 1979).
Best-selling album since 1990: Part III (2001)
Hit songs since 1990: "Only You," "Love Me," "It's Over Now"
The group 112 was one of the most successful acts to emerge on the Bad Boy label run by R&B impresario Sean "Puffy" Combs during the 1990s. 112 began as a smooth harmony outfit inspired largely by 1990s R&B group Boyz II Men. On early releases all four members display strong vocal skills, using rich, full harmonies to imbue love ballads with a sense of urgency. By the time of their third album in 2001, however, the group had largely jettisoned their gentle ballad approach for a tougher sound in keeping with the harder-edged current in modern R&B. Although publicized conflicts with Combs and Bad Boy hindered 112's career during the early 2000s, the group managed to retain its popularity, patching up differences with the label by the beginning of 2003.
112 was formed by four high school classmates in their hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, and they began by performing at church functions. During the early 1990s they earned the notice of the management team Courtney Sills and Kevin Wales, which introduced the group to Combs. Christening the teenaged singers 112 (after a popular nightclub in Atlanta), Combs spearheaded production on the group's self-titled debut album in 1996. Although the bulk of 112 consists of sweet-sounding ballads such as "Cupid" and "I Will Be There," the album's biggest hit, "Only You," is a seductive dance track, driven by a thumping bass and the members' creamy harmonies. While the album's material lacks the distinction of Boyz II Men's finest work, it is enhanced by 112's vocal professionalism, polished through years of singing in church choirs. In 1998 the group returned with Room 112, an album that structurally mirrored its predecessor: lush, pleading ballads interspersed with the occasional dance track. Although it boasted substantial hits in "Love Me" and "Anywhere," critics expressed disappointment in the group's unchallenging adherence to formula.
112 changed directions for Part III (2001), an album cited by many critics as the group's finest. Sporting a flashier, more funk-oriented sound than previous efforts, Part III features production by the group member Daron Jones. On groove-based songs such as "Dance with Me" and "Peaches and Cream," the group incorporates the type of techno-electronic sound favored in the early 2000s by the hit R&B producer Rodney Jerkins. "It's Over Now" ranks as one of the group's strongest singles, its aching and dramatic mood propelled by assertive harmonies and a haunting arrangement of strings, guitar, and jittery rhythm.
Unfortunately, the group's success was soon hampered by legal battles. In February 2002 the four members signed a new recording deal with Def Jam Records, claiming that their contract with Bad Boy had expired. Combs immediately filed an injunction, insisting that the group was still signed to Bad Boy. During the publicity that ensued, 112's members accused Combs of holding them to the terms of an onerous 1996 contract. Finally, in early 2003, the case was settled, with Bad Boy and Def Jam agreeing to handle 112 jointly, splitting profits on the group's future releases. At the same time, 112 announced plans to record its fourth album.
Finding success in the 1990s singing Boyz II Men–influenced love ballads, 112 had evolved by the early 2000s into a forward-thinking R&B group determined to establish trends rather than follow them.
112 (Bad Boy, 1996); Room 112 (Bad Boy, 1998); Part III (Bad Boy, 2001).