112 in Detroit: Singer Michael Keith Talks Music, Boy Bands
BLAC talks to the R&B group member before 112's Superstars of the '90s performance at Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts on Jan. 18, 2014
Every '90s boy band had its defining contributions to the culture of the male heartthrob. Boyz II Men bared the softer side of manhood with their hit "I'll Make Love to You." Meanwhile, New Edition introduced an ingeniously cocky, pelvic-thrusting breed of man called a "Bobby Brown." And then there's 112, who forever changed what it meant to spend your time eating the American favorite dessert, "Peaches & Cream."
When Superstars of the '90s comes to Music Hall in Detroit on Jan 18, 2014, fan favorites Dru Hill, Guy and 112 return to familiar form to remind us why we love boy bands so darn much. In the meantime, we played a game of fast facts with Michael Keith, one of the founding members of 112, to talk male ensembles, competition and new music.
Boy bands are here to stay
Lately, the only Black boy band creating a blip of buzz is the youngsters of Mindless Behavior. Still, Keith believes the stars will align for another 112. "If you go back to the '50s and the '60s, it's only a matter of time before (male music groups) come back around and we have another staple, another 112 or another New Edition. It is part of our culture as a whole. This music industry goes around and comes around."
But there's a formula
"You got to have a bad guy. Got to have a sensitive guy. Got to have a good-looking guy and have a mysterious guy," says Keith, who could easily make his case as 112's resident "jack-of-all-trades" – as a columnist, designer, singer-songwriter and lupus awareness advocate.
"A lot of times when you have a dude in the group who does not do a lot of singing, he makes up for it in other ways," says Keith. "Now 112 is a little different, because we were not put together. But when record labels are tasked with putting together male groups, this is what they look for."
And it can be competitive
Although there is a shared camaraderie among male groups, Keith says, when the lights turn on, it's time to show off. "I am a fan of all of them, but when it is time to get on that stage, we got have a piece of you," Keith says. And 112's shared concert ticket with two other boy bands (Dru Hill and Guy) means an added level of competition.
"You wouldn't know it just from looking at us, but we are some of the most competitive people on the planet. On tour, we do feel like we are the better group. And you would be doing a disservice to your group if you did not."
The music you will hear at the show
"Give them the classics. We are in the lab now working on new material. But for now, just give the fans what they want," says Keith. "I think we are good for another album or two before they don't want to hear anything new from us and they just want to see us perform."
What to expect from a new 112 album
Whether or not 112 taps into the club-friendly music trend on its new album, Keith says to expect a reflection of our societal values. "I think the music industry follows what is happening in society. The reason why they had grunge back in the '90s was because of what was going on with the presidency. And really, music is a microcosm of what is going on in today's society," says Keith.
"A lot of our morals, a lot of our principles that we used to value back in the day when I was growing up, it just seems there is not an emphasis on keeping those. It's more so about people getting their 15 minutes of fame. So it's no surprise to me that our music is a reflection of that. To me, that is why the music today is so 'watered down.'"