10 - The. Michigan Daily - Monday, April 17, 1995
BLACKstreet are heading to the top
By Eugene Bowen
Daily Arts Writer
When Teddy Riley and brothers
Aaron and Damion Hall, better known
as the highly-popular singing trio Guy,
split unexpectedly, Riley became in-
terestedin forming anew singing group.
Afteryears of searching and preparing,
Riley - known for his skills as a
producer -- came out in 1994 with
BLACKstreet, afour-man group which
includes the vocals of Riley along with
Levi Little, David Hollister and
Chauncey Hannibal. Already, the men
of BLACKstreet have gained a re-
spected reputation with their self-titled
debut LP, which features the hit
singles "Before I Let You Go," "Joy"
and "Tonight's the Night."
"If everyone is expecting me to
come forth with another Guy," Riley
once said, "they're going to be sur-
prised." Little agreed, noting that "(the
membersof BLACKstreet) are more
like your next-door neighbors. We're
hard, yet smooth, and we can still come
Twenty seven-year old Little and
23-year old Hannibal are very famil-
iar with the idea of being like next-
door neighbors; they have known each
other since their childhood in
Patterson, New Jersey.
Little was concerned with playing
football and "getting into trouble. All
the projects were in Patterson, and it
was a rough area. You had to do what
you had to do to survive." Looking
back, Little feels that "music saved
Hannibal stated, "basically, I was
into church. My mother and father
were ministers, so I was into church.
I sang in the choir and stuff."
"Chauncey was no good boy,"'
Little interjected. "He just happened
to be in the church at the time."
Hannibal thought high school was
"a big fashion show. My mother got me
out of high school. She 'whipped' me
out," he said, giggling. Little's pubes-
cent experiences were similar with one
exception - his English teacher, Mr.
O'Brian. "He was the one person who
really taught me how to be an entrepre-
neur and to take chances," Little said.
"He taught me to be serious about
things." Little attended William
Patterson Community College for a
month before dropping out. And
Hannibal? "I didn't like high school. I
knew I wasn't going to college."
Hannibal found himself singing
background for Guy during his late
teens while Little performed in vari-
ous club acts. After Guy dissolved
and Riley became interested in form-
ing a new group, Hannibal was the
first to be chosen. He immediately
contacted Little who also joined in.
Lastly came Joseph Stonestreet, the
oldest of the four. Originally, they
were going to call their group "The
Flava," but Public Enemy rapperFlava
Flav had trademarked the name mak-
ing it impossible for them to use the
word "Flava" legally. They then found
an interesting mix of Hannibal's nick-
name, "Black" (as Hannibal is a very
dark-skinned brotha) and the "street"
in Stonestreet's name. Hence,
BLACKstreet was born.
"I think we made a better choice
with BLACKstreet," Little said, "be-
cause it has a nice ring to it."
They recorded their first single,
"Baby Be Mine," which can be found
on the "CB-4" soundtrack. Soon after-
wards, however, Stonestreet left the
group hoping to make it solo. It was
then that Dave Hollister, who by this
time was already singing background
for Mary J. Blige and Jodeci, was in-
vited to join the group; his addition
completed the current BLACKstreet
line-up. Also, the group found them-
selves undergoing a label change, drop-
ping MCA for Interscope. These two
changes caused a variety of delays,
which is why the release of the group's
first LP took over two years.
These four guys take a great deal
of pride in their varying vocal capa-
bilities. Hannibal sees himself as the
master of smooth vocals. "But I can
get a little rough sometimes," he ad-
mitted. Hollister's voice is the prod-
uct of a heavy gospel influence
whereas Little's singing is more pop-
music in nature. Finally, group leader
Teddy Riley is seen by his colleagues
as having a strong character voice.
While they may not have the most
outstanding harmony-making skills
in the business today, many of their
songs do have a uniqueness about
them which explains why so many of
their singles can be found topping the
Little still recalls the day "my dad
came to my first concert and started
crying." Obviously, things have
changed greatly from the days of old
when he could be found changing
BLACKstreet has taken the R&B
world by storm, which surprised no
one considering the fact that the group
was the brainchild of Riley, one of the
most talented producers of Black
music today. Little and Hannibal see
BLACKstreet becoming more of a
household word daily. They only see
their future as singing together Vs
BLACKstreet. No one can predict if
such dreams of longevity will come
true in an industry wrought with sto-
ries of fly-by-night success and down-
fall. However, they and their groti
have a better-than-average chance of
fulfilling this wish, as their LP serkse;
as a more-than-satisfactory found-
tion upon which plans for future suc-
cess can be built.
Blonder and Blonder
When the Muffs released their
eponymous debut album on major
label Warner Bros. in 1993, Green
Day was still toiling in small, smoky
California dives, playing for gas
money. Now two years later, Green
Day, who chose Warner for 1994's
"Dookie" because it was the label that
their pals the Muffs were on, is play-
ing arenas and the Muffs are releasing
their second album, "Blonder and
Blonder," still striving through semi-
obscurity. Oh, the sad irony!
The two California bands share
that razor-sharp, pop-punk sound, but
listening to "Blonder and Blonder,"
you get the feeling that the Muffs
bring together a long tradition of girl-
group pop and cagey garage rock fo-
cusing it all into one magnificent out-
pouring while Green Day created their
sound in a vacuum -just three guys
who picked up their instruments and
beat them into submission.
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Green Day's melodic mayhem
makes for nice party music, but the
Muffs deliver so much more depth. In
a just world, the Muffs would be the
guests of honor at a party where Green
Day would be the valets.
But jokes aside, the Muffs' guitar-
ist/songwriter/singer Kim Shattuck
flashes a crazed Nancy Sinatra pose,
hitting you with coy and loving
glances while popping speed and hid-
ing a 12-inch butcher knife behind
her back. All the better to slay you
with, my pretties.
Nancy sings, "You been messin'
where you shouldn't a been messin',
now someone else is gettin' all your
best. These boots are made for walk-
ing, and that's just what they'll do,
but one of these days these boots are
going to walk all over you." And Kim
screams, "I don't care what you did to
me. You're a piece of shit, you're a
fucking jerk, you fucking bore me,
you simply do." Kim's not playing
any "one of these days" games. You're
with it, or you're a loser. End of story.
"Blonder and Blonder" lures you
into the Muffs' lair with catchy pop
infection and seductive love balladry,
then blows your bowels asunder with
explosive guitar attack and all-out
screams (and Ms. Shattuck screams
better than Mr. Rollins and Ms. Love}.,
The masses are currently saturated
with California punk from Green Day,
Offspring, Rancid and Bad Religion,
but the Muffs' glorious blend of allur-
ing pop and assaulting punk will cony
tinue to leave those bands licking
their wounds. fit
- Matt Carlson
Trent Reznor used to play k
board for Kevin McMahon, the
who is Prick. Now the Trentster ha
put Prick on his nothing label and li
produced some of its tracks.
The first song, "Communiqu
boasts some greatly distorted voca
and a catchy chorus. It rocks in its
own electronically-tinged way
through hard and twisted changes in
the music. The second song:
"Riverhead," sounds like a British
synth group with balls. The lyrics ae
a bit trite, but what can you do? "Su6Z
ers they have always been and suck;;
See RECORDS, Page
The Muffs in their 1993 incarnation - before they became blonder.