Bell Biv DeVoe Three Stripes

Release Date: January 27, 2017

Track Listing

  1. Ready (feat. Doug E. Fresh)
  2. Find a Way
  3. I’m Betta
  4. Hot Damn
  5. Run
  6. All Dat There
  7. Don’t go
  8. Finally (feat. SWV)
  9. One More Try (feat. Boyz II Men)
  10. Incredible

Review

In the 1990’s Bell Biv DeVoe came out of the shadows of being backing players in New Edition to becoming one of the pioneers of the New Jack Swing sound with their debut album Poison.

While they never quite hit the heights of their debut in the years since they stayed together performing as a group and with New Edition during their reunion tours. After 16 years Bell Biv DeVoe return with their fourth studio album Three Stripes.

It features the single Run and collaborations with fellow 90’s throwbacks SWV and Boyz II Men.

Run is the one song that most will immediately turn up simply because it heavily samples The Notorious BIG’s Hypnotize. That track and Hot Damn are about as close as you are going to get to old school BBD on this album. They manage to capture the spirit of their heyday while bringing the group into the modern era of R&B and Hip-Hop.

When it comes to the slower moments on the album there aren’t much that really come close to their strongest ballads. Don’t Go and the collaboration with Boyz II Men (One More Try) are about as good as it gets. The latter is a very nice slice of 70’s soul that brings just the right amount of that classic R&B feel. The closing track Incredible is also worth giving a spin even if it’s not as strong as the two previously mentioned songs.

What I find funny is that throughout this album the tried and true BBD template is still mostly followed to a tee. With Ricky Bell taking on the majority of the singing while Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe take on rapping and harmonies.

Of course it’s not all good. Biv and DeVoe still have a 90’s flow to their raps and it’s kind of embarrassing to hear almost 50-year old men dropping lines that a 20-something year old would say. If you are willing to bypass that for nostalgia more power to you.

In the end Three Stripes is not the grand come back of New Jack Swing or anything like that. If you had those kind of high expectations for BBD’s comeback you might want to scale back your enthusiasm. Instead think of Three Stripes as a decent return to active duty for one of the more popular acts of the 1990’s. If you grew up during that time or have a thing for groups of that time period you might want to give this ago.

Otherwise pass.

Three Stripes