Whatever Happened to Jodeci? Well, You Don’t Want to Know

I guess it’s only human that you never forget your favorite artists. You’re in your youth, they’re in their prime and all the songs get attached to unique moments in your life when all the experiences were fresh and your outlook less jaded. Unfortunately, fame and fortune kills talent in a lot of cases.

One of my favorite groups back in the day had to be Jodeci. These days it’s normal for R&B singers to be thuggin’ with tattoos and lewd lyrics talking about guns but back in the day, that was reserved for rap. R&B singers, whether they were reformed criminals and drug addicts or not, would go get a haircut, buy some fresh clothes and sing songs of innuendo rather than sing raunchy sex lyrics.

Jodeci broke so many molds but they were also very talented. K-ci and JoJo (blood brothers) were the main vocalists while the DeGrate brothers, DeVante Swing and Mr. Dalvin (now Dalvin DeGrate) did the back ups along with song writing and production. K-ci and JoJo released a string of hit albums on their own and that’s probably how most people know about them today, but just to give you a taste of DeVante’s production talent and charisma, witness how he kills it on the piano. Unfortunately, they didn’t hold up too well over time unlike artists such as Madonna or Prince (who still look like they used to).

Just to give you a taste of the production talent.

The killer version:

How do you go from this:

To this?

The official story is that K-ci and JoJo put out an album as a side project and the unexpected success of that put a Jodeci reunion on indefinite hiatus. While that’s mostly true it also steps aside the fact that most of them developed drug problems somewhere in between that period. Now 10 years later Jodeci is on the “Let’s Raise Money for Crack” tour trying to shop a new album.

Just check the evidence, you don’t get like this from just getting old. K-ci seriously looks like Dave Chappelle playing a crackhead. It’s almost scary.

I repeat, this is not a Dave Chappelle skit.

Then DeVante went and got a tattoo on his face. I mean, I could not make this up if I tried.

From flyness:

To Cracktastic:

Say what you want but getting a tattoo on your face is something reserved for drug addicts. Sad, because DeVante and his brother Dalvin were there not only for their musical production talent but to make up for K-ci and Jojo in the looks department as well (notice how prominently they feature in photos and album covers).

The way this seems to happen is that the artists get caught up in a vicious cycle and chewed up by the industry.

  1. Impoverished youths suddenly shoot to fame at a young age solely on musical talent, looks, and style

  2. Make more money than they and their whole family would normally see in a couple life times

  3. Get overworked and relatively underpaid.

  4. Go on TV

  5. Go on tour

  6. Get caught up in drugs and sex while on tour since they have no other life.

  7. Release another album

  8. Rinse and repeat from 3 if successful else go to next

  9. Realise at some point between album and tours that there’s not enough money to go around.

  10. Get in a squabble with the record company.

  11. Go on indefinite hiatus.

  12. Get released from contract once record company realizes you’re a washed up junkie with zero marketability.

  13. Start a reality TV series or go on a “comeback” tour to raise more money for crack.

  14. Then disappear for good.

I guess that’s why stars that die at a young age and in their prime have more passionate followers because they don’t have to see talent ruined by chronic drug use or see their favorite sex symbols get fat and bald. Plus these stars are surrounded by hangers on that constantly praise their every move instead of saying, “yo man, you look like a crack head and by the way your new song sucks donkey balls.” I mean if you get a packed club of 100 people screaming your name, it’s easy to ignore reality and pretend like people still want you.

All I can say is that the record companies got it down to a science where they bind young, hot stars to 5-year+ contracts and take away all the best years. It’s rare for stars to last so long like Madonna (who must do a lot of rejuvenating plastic surgery before ramping up an album), Janet Jackson (before the “wardrobe malfunction” and weight problem that never went away), or R. Kelly (I think he’s coming to the end of a good run).

Update 9/24/2010

The brothers are trying to “come clean” with their reality show fighting addiction. Let’s see how that goes!

Jodeci’s K-Ci & Jojo TV One Reality Show Premieres October | Clutch Magazine: The Digital Magazine for the Young, Contemporary Woman of Color