…because they’ve been playing shows sporadically all this time! How could America survive if Bell Biv DeVoe went away?
But yes, tomorrow’s performance by Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, and Ronnie DeVoe have got the internet going nuts. Why? Two reasons:
2. “Do Me”
These two enormous 1990 R&B singles powered the ex-New Edition trio, and the genre New Jack Swing, into the hearts of Americans. And there are two other reasons why the group is important:
• They (first as members of New Edition and then as Bell Biv DeVoe) stand at the head of a northeast tradition that ultimately spawned the Roots, who are now Fallon’s house band. New Edition were the last urban artists from Boston worth speaking of, and Michael Bivins actually discovered Philadelphians Boyz II Men backstage at a BBD show. Questlove and Black Thought of the Roots actually appear briefly in the music video for Boyz II Men’s ’90s stone classic “Motownphilly.”
• It’s also worth noting that in an age of numerous early- and mid-90s indie rock reunions BBD’s performance is a welcome reminder of the tradition of micro-sample-heavy R&B music spawned by Janet Jackson’s Control, Public Enemy and the Bomb Squad, Terry Riley, and others. Bell Biv DeVoe helped teach us that rap & R&B are like peanut butter and chocolate. Where would we be without them?