Boyz II Men and ‘Motownphilly’ back again

Boyz II Men are still kickin’ it just for you.

In the digital age, where most listeners purchase single songs online for $1.29, does it really make sense to re-record your hits and package them with new songs? If you’re Boyz II Men, it’s not just about trying to entice people to buy your entire album at the local retail outlet, says singer Nathan Morris.

“When you’re signed to a major record label, they sign you for a certain time and after it’s passed, you’re allowed to re-record songs,” he explains. “One of the reasons we thought it would be cool is that now we can re-record our songs and we can physically own the masters ourselves and we can license them to whoever we want to license them to versus Universal having all the power and control over our songs.”

Both the new songs and the newer versions of the hits on the group’s recently released “Twenty” are in keeping with the spirit of the originals that made them one of the most successful R&B groups ever. And yes, their new album is called “Twenty” because they’ve been together for two decades. Morris says this milestone anniversary was very much present in their minds when they went into the studio.

“It was cool, the fact that we were able to perform at all of these songs with the original producers is a good thing,” he says. “It wasn’t tedious at all. We perform these songs a lot on stage, and the fact that we did those songs 20 years ago, performing them now is different because now we have a whole different outlook on the songs.”

Is it true you really recorded the original version of “End of the Road” in four hours?

Yeah, we did that song pretty quick. We were on tour at the time, and we just ran into the studio and knocked it out and flew back out and had a show that night.

Did it take longer to re-record it?

No, it was actually pretty quick, probably the same amount of time.

Beyoncé samples your song “Uhhh Ahhh” in her new song, “Countdown.” You must have been pretty psyched about that.
Oh, without a doubt, Beyoncé is incredible. I was amazed at how she used it, personally.

In “Motownphilly,” there’s the line that everybody pretty much sings when you mention Boyz II Men to them, “ABC, BBD, the East Coast family.” ABC is the now-defunct kid group Another Bad Creation. Tell me what that’s like to namecheck a group who hasn’t existed for years.

It’s a staple in the song now and half the people don’t know who any of them are anyway.

Do you talk with any of the members of ABC now?
We ran into a few of them years ago down in Atlanta. That’s where they hang out. We worked with some of the guys years ago, but not recently, we haven’t worked with them.

Are they working?
They aren’t a group anymore, and have moved onto whatever they’re gonna do in their lives pretty much. They were so much younger.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s a line in “Not Like You,” one of the new songs on “Twenty,” that alludes to Facebook photographs. I thought that was interesting to hear something so modern on an album that also includes ABC.
You try to write lyrics that express the space and time that you’re in. Sometimes you hear somebody, and they’ll be singing about putting the cassette in. There’s no more cassettes, but that was the time frame, this is the Facebook time frame, and years from now it’ll probably be different.

Did you ever hear the Ween song, “Freedom of 76”? It’s an homage to Philly and Gene Ween sings a line in there, “Boyz II Men still keepin’ up the beat…”
Oh really? I must have missed that.

Let’s talk about other Philly acts. You and the Roots and ?uestlove go way back.
Yeah, we actually shared the same homeroom in high school. We come from the same everything, he graduated with me.

He’s even in the “Motownphilly” video, right?

Yeah he’s in there playing drums.

I almost didn’t recognize him because he doesn’t have the trademark afro.

Yeah, he has the dreads. That was the early years.

Back to “End of the Road” for a moment, this is the third time you’ve recorded it, right? What changes from version to version?
The last time we did it we did it with Brian McKnight, and that was a whole different thing because we’ve obviously never done it with anyone else, and that one was done basically acappella, and we’ve never done it real acappella. That kinda had its own identity, but this one was more so, giving it our feeling of “End of the Road,” 20 years later.

Not to overstate the obvious, but it’s interesting because it’s not the end of the road at all. What do you think of acappella, that trend emerging with all these college kids?
I think it’s great. I wish that more was behind it. Obviously that TV show “Glee” helped it a lot. It sounds great and it’s wonderful, but I don’t know how many record companies believe in it, or that you can sell records with it.

Only a few of the songs that you guys recorded were straight up acappella.
Yeah, only a few. We used to sing acapella years ago because we didn’t have music. Almost everything you hear on the first album we did as acapella before we went into the studio to make the record

Was there ever a thought that you guys would do those songs acappella when you started?
No, because the record label wouldn’t have gone for that.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Girl, 10, dies after being pulled from water…

A 10-year-old girl died after being pulled from the waters off Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn on Tuesday night, police said.

News

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

Local

Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.

National

Judge sets January start for murder trial of…

By Elizabeth BarberBOSTON (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be tried in January for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin…

Arts

Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.

Television

Zac Posen talks 'Project Runway' and what it…

We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season of "Project Runway" and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.

Television

'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.

Arts

PHOTO: Wildlife photographer Marc Mol captures amazing aerial…

This aerial image was taken by photographer Marc Mol who spotted the animals during an air safari in Zambia.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

NFL

Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.