This lead single from the Jason’s Lyric film soundtrack is one of my favourite songs ever! Yeah, I know I say that about all the posts. lol! But this one really is, mainly because when it first came out I was fascinated and excited by the fact that Black Men United (B.M.U) was made up of every black male r&b singer out at the time, together on one track! The money raised on the song, which was a top five US r&b hit, went to the several charities to advance the uplifting of young black men, including the United Negro College Fund.
This included a young D’Angelo (who also penned the track), Aaron Hall, After 7, Al B Sure, Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight, Christopher Williams, Damion Hall, El DeBarge, Gerald LeVert, H-Town, Intro, Joe, Keith Sweat, Lenny Kravitz (on guitar), Portrait, R. Kelly, Silk, Stokely Williams (lead singer from Mint Condition), Tevin Campbell, Tony! Toni! Toné! and Usher. In fact altogether over 40 artists took part, whose combined record sales were over 14o million!
I love the early part of the track with little Tevin Campbell leading the charge, he absolutely killed it! R.Kelly also represented as did the late Gerald Levert (R.I.P). And it was nice to see everyone’s egos put aside for a good cause.
I remember the film coming out in 1994, at a time when a lot of movies about the US black experience were getting made. This was due to the success of John Singleton’s Boyz in the Hood (1991) and the Hughes Brother’s Menace II Society (1993). But Jason’s Lyric was a little different, as although it still had the ‘trying to get out of the ghetto/hood/bad situation’ element, in this case with a ‘good brother/bad brother dynamic’, there was also a strong love story theme running through the film.
The ‘love story’ was between main character’s Lyric (Jada Pinkett, before she married Will Smith), and ‘good brother’ Jason Alexander, who worked hard, looked after his mother and wanted a better life for himself. Jason was played by fine-ass Allen Payne! That boy was overly sexy (and the shirtless scenes) gave my teenage self the grin the size of Birmingham… I hear he is in some US sitcom these days (House of Payne), but it is a damn we don’t see that much of Mr Payne over in the UK these days (in more ways than one).
The film also starred Bokeem Woodbine as Joshua Alexander, the ‘bad brother’ freshly released from jail and unwilling to change his bad ways. I first saw Bokeem in a film called Strapped, and from there I really liked him as a actor, another one we don’t see enough of these days.
And how can I forget sexy Treach from Naughty By Nature, who played gangster/Lyric’s brother Alonzo?!? Man, this movie had a lot going on for us women in terms of eye-candy. And the men, who got a few shots of Jada Pinkett getting naked during the nookie scenes, and of course Lisa Nicole Carson (who played Alonzo’s girl and Lyric’s friend), with her huge… personality! So everyone was a winner.
Future Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker even made an appearance at the alcoholic abusive father of the two brother. To be honest the storyline wasn’t that hot, but the cast made up for it. And this song of course. As a matter of fact the whole soundtrack was kind of hot, containing germs such as The Whitehead Bros, Forget I Was A G and K-Ci from Jodeci’s solo joint ,If You Think You’re Lonely Now.
Peep the below video for a rare live performance of the song at the American Music Awards (Circa 94/95). It seems this time the egos WERE out in force as everyone tries hard to out do the others on their part! Usher really takes it there, but again Tevin Campbell really brings it for me! Damn, I miss him in the music game!
I also love it when Queen Latifah, who is one of the presenters introducing the track and listing the performers on it, says ‘Intro and n’em’, and laughs ( you gotta watch to see what I mean). She’s keeping it real I guess. Enjoy!