If anyone had told the soul boy members of 112--Q, Mike, Slim, and Daron -- that they'll still be making records nine years after their self-titled debut dropped from r&b heaven, they might not have believed you.
"We thought we might make enough money to open a laundry or something," Mike jokes. "We never thought we'd be sitting here talking about our fifth record." Still, with a solid fan base, three platinum-plus albums, a Grammy and even Vibe magazine wondering in the 20 Questions when Atlanta's premier soul singers would be releasing their next record, could a new chapter in the lives of 112 be far behind.
With the arrival of Pleasure & Pain, the men of 112 prove that their longevity isn't a fluke. "We wanted people to feel the fire inside of us," Mike informs. "There is so much negativity in music that we feel that God is using us to spread the message of love." It's time to screw the red light bulb back in, because 112 back.
From the first time one hears the raw romantics of 112's newest single "U Already Know," it's obvious that these rhythmic Romeos have what it takes to make the sweethearts of girls across the world swoon. "Today, there is so much negativity in music. People are talking about killing, violence and pain; with all of that in the world, 112 is still all about love." Produced by Focus and Sean Garrett, "U Already Know" sparkles and shines like fireworks on the 4th of July.
Although 112 had traveled the globe, all four members still call the catfish and cornbread capital of Georgia their home. And, what better place to record than back where they first sparked hits like "Peaches & Cream" and "Come See Me." Explains Slim, "There is just this electrifying energy that we feel there, from the civil rights era of the past to Atlanta's current status as a musical mecca, everything there is perfect."
From across the room, resident producer Daron says, "The main thing was to get our focus back. The four of us got together and you could feel our competitive edge coming back. 112 is not like any other R&B group, and we shed blood, sweat and tears making Pleasure & Pain to prove it." Produced by Daron, the 112 heartbreak of "Let This Go" has the silky feel of the group's more popular love songs ("Cupid", "Only You") even if it is about the end of an affair.
"I try to go into the studio everyday and make music," Daron says. "When we were working on `Let This Go' I knew it would be one of Pleasure & Pain's realest songs. We're not trying to be trendy, we're just trying to tell the truth." A hypnotic track that makes you want to slow dance while shedding a tear, "Let This Go" has the makings of a quiet storm classic.
Following that aural trail of break-up and confusion, "What If" is perhaps the best love gone wrong song of the season. "That's one of my favorite tracks," Mike says. "There are not many songs where a man will admit every bad thing he has done." From being too controlling in the day to creeping in the woods at night, it it's one thing these southern boys don't have a problem with is honesty. "Too many fellas have lost good girlfriends over their own b.s."
From the bedroom to the dance floor, 112 is perhaps one of the most innovative groups since the days of Guy. On "If I Hit," which uses a crazy electro bounce, one can almost hear the boom of the club in the background.
Although it's obvious that 112 are big boys now and can play in the studio without constant supervision, the group has all the respect in the world for Def Jam CEO LA Reid. "LA is also a musician, so we're kind of like kindred spirits," Q says. "We know that no one becomes a legend with one album, nor should they. With Pleasure & Pain we feel closer to that legend status. L.A. expects greatness, and 112 tried to deliver." Upon hearing this album you'll all be aware that greatness has arrived.
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