Michael Bivins Discusses New Edition’s 30-Year History and Their Upcoming Film (Video)
In 1982, New Edition won a talent show in their hometown of Boston, MA that would lead to a 30+ year career that spawned spinoffs and birthed a new generation of boy groups. In many ways Michael Bivins would prove to be the group’s nucleus, as their business leader. He recently sat down with The Breakfast Club and talked about three decades of New Edition.
The conversation started with the recently announced New Edition biopic that is being produced by BET. Biv explained that because of the extensive storylines related to the group and each of its members–Ralph Tresvant, Ronnie DeVoe, Ricky Bell, Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill and Bivins–the biopic would be a 3-part mini-series that would air over multiple nights. He also discussed the current relationship of the group, mentioning the fluidity of their interactions (2:30).
After recounting the early history of how New Edition came together (4:00), Bivins touched on a topic that was clearly sensitive to him. He spoke about the impact New Edition had on groups that followed, like TLC, New Kids on the Block, N’Sync and others, but said he believed New Edition did not get its proper credit, particularly with respect to radio airplay (7:30). He attributed the current lack of spins of their catalog to a type of ageism that seems to be only prevalent in R&B and Hip-Hop (11:00). He noted that mainstream acts like Madonna, still receive regular airplay for their older songs, even on current pop stations.
Further into the conversation, the topic shifted to the numerous offshoots and solo projects that took place during the group’s tenure. Biv said that part of the reason he was always careful with his money was because he was not a singer and knew that his fortunes were tied to whether Ralph and Bobby wanted to sing on any given day (15:00). He said he was initially cool on the idea of doing Bell Biv Devoe, but producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis talked him into it. He noted that because all 3 BBD members had traditionally been in the background, they had been able to learn what worked for audiences during their shows and knew that their success would be tied to their routines (16:00). He also spoke about Bobby Brown’s “decision” to go solo, saying that the beleaguered singer was actually voted out of the group (17:30).
Later in the interview, the discussion shifted to the palpable lack of R&B groups today (27:30). Mike attributed the void to the decline in artist development in the music business, saying there was a lack of work ethic and experience in the industry today.
Toward the tail end of the conversation, he touched on a number of topics, including being a mentor to LL Cool J in the 80s (32:30) and Busta Rhymes writing the rap on BBD’s hit “Do Me Baby” (38:00). He also very assertively addressed his status with Boyz II Men. He’d seen The Breakfast Club’s interview with the group and had an issue with DJ Envy’s line of questioning with them regarding Bivins and their financial arrangement (40:00). Bivins spoke in detail about how Boyz II Men was paid and steps he took to rectify some of their concerns when they were raised. He also talked about the substantial amount of his own personal money that he invested in the group, when no one else believed in them. He closed by noting that the group had never sued him.