He chose the stage name Ginuwine for its sincerity, and what the R&B singer was sincere about was success. His first two albums, Ginuwine…The Bachelor and 100% Ginuwine, both went multiplatinum as fans were drawn to his trademark smooth, seductive voice and sexy delivery, as well as his lady-killing stage presence. After the crushing loss of both of his parents, Ginuwine returned with a third, more personal release in 2001 entitled The Life.
Born Elgin Baylor Lumpkin to Sandra and James Lumpkin, Ginuwine was raised in Washington, D.C. He grew up listening to Michael Jackson and watching his mother’s videotapes of Fred Astaire and Charlie Chaplin. “I studied showstoppers,” he told the Washington Post. “Didn’t matter who they were.” Both his talent and his ambition were obvious from a young age. He began performing with a breakdancing group called Finesse Five at age 12. When his group took second place at a talent show at Suitland High School, he was less than pleased. “I was mad,” he recalled in the Washington Post. “I was like, ‘There’s no room for second place, we’ve got to be number one. Second is second.’”
“Even before he recorded a single song,” wrote David Segal in the Washington Post, “he considered fame something you hunt, day and night.” And that is what the ambitious teen did. He first let his fingers do the walking—he found the New York offices of Sony and Atlantic in the Yellow Pages, then showed up for unsolicited auditions. Armed with a tape and a self-portrait, Ginuwine, who did not settle on his stage name until 1995, would walk in and start singing. The approach did not work. He continued performing, and in 1990, came up with the idea of meeting an influential performer in person and winning his way in. His target was the then-popular MC Hammer, who was on tour in Washington, D.C. with R&B group Jodeci. At their hotel after the show, Ginuwine found Devante Swing, Jode-ci’s lead singer, in the lobby playing the piano. Ginuwine was unable to introduce himself, but Swing noticed him and asked for an impromptu performance. The girls in the lobby began to scream, and Ginuwine was on his way.
Ginuwine signed a deal with Swing’s label, Swing Mob, already home to then-unknowns Tim “Timbaland” Mos-ley and Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot. For a time, the three shared a house in New Jersey. Ginuwine didn’t get anywhere with Swing Mob, so he cut his losses and left the label. The bond with Timbaland and Elliot remained, though, as the three rose to stardom. They each appeared on the others’ albums, Timbaland figuring most prominently in Ginuwine’s career as the producer of his first two releases.
Ginuwine…The Bachelor was released in 1996 on Sony’s 550 Music label. The debut sold more than one million copies, fueled by the sexy single, “Pony,” which reached number four on Billboard’s Hot R&B Airplay
Born Elgin Baylor Lumpkin, c. 1971, in Washington, D.C.; son of James and Sandra Lumpkin; children: Elgin Jr., Story.
Began performing with breakdancing crew Finesse Five, age 12; signed with and eventually left Swing Mob label; signed with Sony 550 Music, 1991; released Ginuwine…The Bachelor, 1996; released 100% Ginu-wine, 1999; released The Life, 2001.
Chart. His cover of Prince’s 1980s hit “When Doves Cry” and a national tour with labelmate Aaliyah garnered fans and media attention. 100% Ginuwine came out in 1999, achieving success comparable to the singer’s debut by selling more than one million copies. Every track on the release, wrote critic Barry Walters in Rolling Stone, is an “often hilarious drama with libidinous lyrics, slow-burning hooks, cinematic sound effects and … crafty, rhythmic maneuvers….”
After the release of his first two records, Ginuwine was a bona fide sex symbol. His handsome face and chiseled abdominal muscles—the product of 500 sit-ups and 500 push-ups before every stage performance—made women swoon. “His name is Ginuwine, but we like to call him Ginufine!” one female fan told Jet. The artist claimed that he did not see a sex symbol when he looked in the mirror: “I don’t wake up in the morning, like ‘Yeah, I’m a sex symbol.’ I don’t do that,” he told Jet Instead, he accepts the label as a necessary part of the job. “Whatever is positive that helps my career move forward, I’m willing to take that,” he said. Another facet of the job, he admitted, was gifts from fans. Fans regularly pelt him with jewelry, cards, panties, and bras—all of which he keeps as mementos. “I take them home, wash them, and keep them,” he said in Jet. The sex symbol also is a family man; he and fiancée Sole, a fellow soul singer, reside in Washington with their daughter Story. Ginuwine also has a son, Elgin Jr., from a previous relationship.
As diversity is integral to achieving success in the music business, Ginuwine does not simply cut records and give concerts anymore. He appeared on the Jenny Jones television show to unveil his own fragrance lines, G Spot for women and 100% Ginuwine for men. He made a cameo appearance in an episode of television’s Martial Law, and co-starred in the film Juwanna Man with Miguel A. Nunez, Vivica A. Fox, Tommy Davidson, and rapper Lil’ Kim.
Just as Ginuwine was riding high on the success he had dreamed of, his personal life was in turmoil. In 1999, his father committed suicide. The following year, cancer killed his mother. After their deaths, he was depressed, drank heavily, considered giving up performing, and even considered suicide. He abandoned work on his new record. Gradually, he recovered from his depression and resumed work on the new project. “I know that they’d want me to continue to work and that’s what I always wanted to do,” he told the Washington Post. “You can’t go under too far, and I caught myself. It was about being a man and realizing that I’ve got people that depend on me. That made me get back in the studio.” Ginuwine claimed that the record, his 2001 release The Life, was his most personal project to date. He dedicated it to his parents. He wrote the song “Two Reasons I Cry” for them and believed it helped him recover. “There’s nothing in your life that you can’t write about,” he said in an interview with Jet. “I believed that it helped me, aided me to be able to talk to my mom and dad in song. I know they are looking down on me and smiling.”
Compared to his first two multiplatinum albums, wrote critic Amy Linden in People, The Life was lacking. Despite glimpses of his trademark “sass and sexiness,” on tracks like “There It Is” and “That’s How I Get Down,” something was missing. She suggested that something may have been producer Timbaland. The Life was Ginuwine’s first release without production by Timbaland. The artist instead used the producers behind smash pop hits from Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez. On the previous two albums, Linden wrote, Ginuwine’s “silky, seductive vocals purred beside Tim-baland’s jagged, hyperkinetic beats to create a uniquely edgy R&B sound.” Without Timbaland, she concluded, The Life sounded like an empty attempt at commercial success. Billboard critic Rashaun Hall disagreed, declaring that “The Life is good,” as the song” There It Is “—an anthem for hard-working men who are sick of unappreciative women—made its way up Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart. Rolling Stone critic Arion Berger acknowledged Ginuwine’s strength as a “ladykilling crooner” with the passionate “delivery of an old-school love man,” but admitted The Life was loaded with “trendy touches.” Despite Ginuwine’s genuine talents as a performer and showman, Berger wrote, “The Life is all naughty, disposable high points.” “That’s How I Get Down,” the one Timbaland-produced track on the release, became a party song at clubs across the United States. In its first week on the Billboard album chart, The Life jumped to number three.
Ginuwine…The Bachelor, 550 Music, 1996.
100% Ginuwine, 550 Music, 1999.
(Contributor) Romeo Must Die (soundtrack), Virgin, 2000.
The Life, Epic, 2001.
Billboard, March 24, 2001, p. 25; April 14, 2001, p. 29.
Entertainment Weekly, November 8, 1996, p. 68.
Jet, May 7, 2001, p. 54.
People, April 23, 2001, p. 44.
Rolling Stone, April 1, 1999, p. 97; May 10, 2001, p. 88.
Washington Post, April 14, 2001, p. C1.
"Ginuwine." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/ginuwine
"Ginuwine." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved May 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/ginuwine
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Like the late Aaliyah, his labelmate in the Sony/500 stable of musicians, Ginuwine has merged classic R&B vocals with contemporary electronic production techniques. His sharp tenor offered both romantic appeal and an edgy sound that quickly caught the attention of urban and pop music fans in the late 1990s. Emerging from the group of creative individuals that surrounded hit producer Tim “Timbaland” Mosley, Ginuwine proved Timbaland’s perfect collaborator, crafting sexy yet precise vocal lines that wound themselves around the producer’s futuristic soundscapes. Ginuwine faced personal problems as the new century dawned, but the year 2002 saw him ensconsed as an established R&B star, independent of Timbaland’s influence.
Ginuwine was born Elgin Baylor Lumpkin and grew up in Washington, D.C. As with many artistically inclined youngsters of that time, he was inspired as a child by Michael Jackson during his superstar period. Some of his first performances as a youth were Jackson impersonations. Yet he also paid close attention to his mother’s videotapes of movie dancer Fred Astaire—who influenced Jackson—as well as to the films of the famous comedian Charlie Chaplin. By age 12 he was performing in a neighborhood group, Finesse Five, that was good enough to take the stage in local nightclubs—at least until police showed up to remove the underage entertainers from liquor-vending establishments.
By the time he was a teenager, Ginuwine (who took that name in 1995, just prior to the release of his debut album) had begun to think about a musical career. He began with the bold approach of walking into music-company offices in New York City and singing for anyone who would listen, but that tactic led nowhere. After graduating from Washington’s Suitland High School he earned a paralegal degree at Prince George’s Community College in Maryland, and by that time he had refined his method a bit. Instead of buttonholing recording-label personnel directly, he tried to attract the attention of established performers. When multiplatinum rap hitmaker MC Hammer showed up in Washington for a concert, Ginuwine went to his hotel. The rapper’s entourage brushed him off, but then he saw Devante Swing, lead singer of the group Jodeci (on tour with Hammer at the time), playing the piano in the hotel lobby.
Swing offered a seat at the keyboard to Ginuwine, whose ensuing performance inspired screams from passing women in the lobby. The encounter led to connections with several artists connected with the Jodeci vocalist’s Swing Mob label, most notably Timbaland and a then-unknown Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot. The three briefly shared a house in New Jersey, and Ginuwine and Timbaland began working on new material together. In May of 1996 they approached Michael Caplan, senior vice president of artists and repertoire for the giant Sony label’s 550 Music imprint. One of their songs was an infectious dance tune, “Pony,” that exploited the time-honored image of horseback riding as a metaphor for sex.
At a Glance…
Born Elgin Baylor Lumpkin in Washington, DC, on October 15, 1975; children; Elgin Jr., Story. Education: Prince George’s Community College, paralegal degree.
Career: Performed with neighborhood group, Finesse Five, late 1980s; worked with producer Timbaland; signed with Swing Mob label (no recordings released); signed to Sony/550 label, 1996; released single, “The Pony,” 1996; released debut album, Ginuwine The Bachelor, 1996; released 100% Ginuwine, 1999; appeared in film Juwanna Man and in Martial Law television series; marketed line of perfumes and colognes; released The Life, 2001.
“The second song they played for me was ‘Pony,’” Caplan told Billboard. “After eight notes, I said, ‘Wait here while I get a lawyer.’ We did the deal over the weekend.” Caplan’s intuition was confirmed when “Pony “topped R&B charts and cracked the pop top ten. The artist’s debut album Ginuwine The Bachelor, produced by Timbaland, was released in October of 1996. It sold 50, 000 copies in its first six weeks of release, an impressive number for an unknown artist. The album went on to garner sales reportedly exceeding one million copies. The album’s cover of Prince’s “When Doves Cry” pointed to another influence; Prince’s combination of classic high vocals with innovative rhythm tracks shaped the flavor of Ginuwine’s music.
“If you want a lover with a slow hand, Ginuwine’s the real thing,” noted a critic in Entertainment Weekly in a review of the “Pony” single. “This single’s irresistible funk grooves lope at an easy gait, seducing the listener with a velvety tenor and belching synthesizer hook.” Ginuwine amplified that image in a concert tour he undertook as part of a double bill with Aaliyah to support his Ginuwine The Bachelor album. In an era with no shortage of effective live performers in the R&B field, Ginuwine stood out. Known for flashing abdominal muscles honed by a regimen of 500 situps before each performance, the singer soon accumulated a collection of jewelry and women’s undergarments which were thrown on stage during his performances. According to Jet, the collection apparently has not disturbed Ginuwine’s fiancee, Sole, with whom he lives in Washington, D.C., along with their daughter, Story.
The artist’s second album release, 100% Ginuwine, with Timbaland once again at the producer’s controls, followed in the mold of its predecessor and duplicated its success, with sales once again in the million-copy range. The album’s success was stoked by strong radio airplay for the single “So Anxious,” which was inspired, the singer told Billboard, by his personal experience of “just anxiously waiting” for his girlfriend to get home from work. Writer Stephen Thomas Erlewine of the All Music Guide lauded the album, commenting that “if nothing grabs the ear like ‘Pony,’ most of the songs slowly work their way underneath the skin, revealing themselves as either seductive ballads or ingratiating dancefloor numbers.”
After the release of 100% Ginuwine in 1999, the artist seemed well on the way to superstardom. He made moves to diversify his energies and appeal, appearing on film in Juwanna Man and on television in Martial Law, and marketing his own line of perfume and cologne. But personal tragedy temporarily sidetracked his high-flying career. His father committed suicide in 1999, and he lost his mother to cancer the following year. Ginuwine fell into depression and stopped working on his next album. The spotlight shifted to younger R&B heartthrobs, and Ginuwine considered giving up performing altogether.
What brought him back into the studio, Ginuwine told the Washington Post, was “realizing that I’ve got people that depend on me.” Ginuwine pointed to elements of his personal ordeal that found their way onto his revamped third album, The Life, including a song, “Two Reasons I Cry,” dedicated to his parents. The bulk of the album, however, consisted of the singer’s trademark romantic numbers. Only one track, the dance-oriented “That’s How I Get Down,” was produced by Timbaland; that song became a major club hit. Other songs, produced by Troy Oliver and Cory Rooney, were equally successful, and the album hit the top ten in its first week of release. The age of musical electronics, it seemed, had finally found a genuine (or Ginuwine) sex symbol.
“The Pony” (single), 550 Music, 1996.
Ginuwine The Bachelor, 550 Music, 1996.
100% Ginuwine, 550 Music, 1999.
The Life, Epic, 2001.
Contemporary Musicians, Volume 34, Gale, 2002.
Billboard, November 16, 1996, p. 13; August 28, 1999, p. 31.
Daily News Record, November 22, 1999, p. 14.
Entertainment Weekly, November 8, 1996, p. 68.
Jet, May 7, 2001, p. 54.
Washington Post, April 14, 2001, p. CI.
All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com
Lycos Music, http://www.music.lycos.com
—James M. Manheim
"Ginuwine 1975(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/ginuwine-1975
"Ginuwine 1975(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved May 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/ginuwine-1975
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Born: Elgin Baylor Lumpkin; Washington, D.C., 15 October 1975
Best-selling album since 1990: 100% Ginuwine (1999)
Hit songs since 1990: "Pony," "Only When U R Lonely," "So Anxious"
Young crooner Ginuwine became the heart-throb of the moment when he entered the music scene in 1996. His understated vocals, creative sexual euphemisms, and collaboration with some of the most inventive songwriters and one of the most inventive producers of the decade established him as more than just another flash-in-the-pan R&B "loverman." Although his later work increasingly neglected innovation in favor of a more commercial sound, he ended the 1990s having made a significant impact on pop music and with a promising career still ahead of him.
Washington, D.C., native Elgin Lumpkin began his music career at age twelve, performing in local hip-hop groups and working as a Michael Jackson impressionist. In 1996 he went solo under the name "Ginuwine," simultaneously studying to be a paralegal as a backup career. That year he met fledgling producer Tim "Timbaland" Mosley. The two recorded the song "Pony," which helped Ginuwine land a deal with 550 Music, a New York–based subsidiary of Sony. In October 1996 it released his debut album, Ginuwine . . . the Bachelor, executive produced by Timbaland.
Ginuwine . . . the Bachelor finds the singer delivering traditional R&B proclamations of devotion, heartbreak, and sexual desire on a series of slow-tempo songs. Although Ginuwine's vocals often forsake the earnest, gospel-tinged melodrama of contemporaries such as Dru Hill and Jodeci for a cooler, more laid-back approach, they clearly ground him in the pop/R&B territory charted by his earliest musical influences, Michael Jackson and Prince. Ginuwine . . . the Bachelor directly acknowledges the debt to the latter by including a version of Prince's 1983 hit "When Doves Cry"; this cover's clever execution is indicative of the way the album updates Ginuwine's influences for the 1990s. Slowing down the song's tempo, Timbaland subtracts the original's guitars, adds a hip-hop beat, and laces the track with video game bleeps and an eerie sample of doves cooing. "Pony" is equally innovative, pitting a minimalist and distorted start-and-stop groove against Ginuwine's playfully suggestive metaphor: "My saddle's waiting / Come and jump on it." Released as the album's first single, "Pony" went to number one on the R&B charts and became a crossover pop hit. The hit singles "Tell Me Do U Wanna," "I'll Do Anything / I'm Sorry," "Holler," and "Only When U R Lonely" followed, and Ginuwine . . . the Bachelor went double platinum. Ginuwine became a star, and the album's stripped-down, futuristic, yet simultaneously soulful sound made Timbaland one of the most sought-after producers in hip-hop and R&B.
Tours supporting artists such as Aaliyah and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony secured Ginuwine's newfound stardom, and in 1999 he reteamed with Timbaland for his second album, 100% Ginuwine. Largely building upon the successful formula pioneered with Ginuwine . . . the Bachelor, the album entered the pop charts at number five. Including a cover of Michael Jackson's "She's Out of My Life," and spawning hit singles such as "So Anxious," "What's So Different," and "None of Ur Friends Business," it too went double platinum.
Ginuwine parted ways with Timbaland for his third album, The Life, which debuted in April 2001 at number three on the pop charts. Less concerned with innovative production than with cementing Ginuwine's appeal to his legions of female fans, the album yielded his biggest pop hit to date, the ode to newfound commitment "Differences."
Backing up his sex appeal with vocal talent and shrewd pop instincts, Ginuwine made a semi-successful bid to be the 1990s heir to 1980s crossover R&B artists such as Michael Jackson and Prince. Although he never equaled his predecessors' commercial success, his debut album revitalized R&B and launched the career of producer Timbaland, who went on to help create some of the decade's most innovative popular music.
Ginuwine . . . the Bachelor (550 Music, 1996); 100% Ginuwine (550 Music, 1999); The Life (550 Music, 2001).
"Ginuwine." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ginuwine
"Ginuwine." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved May 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ginuwine