Ranking Bell Biv DeVoe’s Discography

Bell Biv DeVoe's discography

It’s time to rank Bell Biv DeVoe’s discography.

After watching The New Edition Story, I had an epiphany. Someone should rank every single Bell Biv DeVoe song from worst to first. I thought the homie Big Money Mike from Popblerd would be the best person for the job. But, he’s busy with a radio show and a podcast.

After deliberating with myself for a few minutes, I figured it out. It had to be me. Why not me? I’ve listened to one of the greatest party albums Poison only about 500 times. I bought Hootie Mack from Colombia House. I even sat through their third album that no one in the world has heard, BBD. And you know I downloaded their latest album Three Stripes the second it was released on Apple Music.

So, your boy, Double G, aka the Dave Meltzer of pop culture, aka the kinda dark skinned Brandon Walsh, aka the weed free Tim Lincecum, aka the much less buff Dwayne Johnson is here to write the post that must be written.

(By the way, no one calls me any of those things except Double G.)

This called for a lot of investigation and preparation. And by preparation, I really mean just listening to their albums all over again. What I learned is that Poison is timeless and should really be in the Smithsonian. I also learned that Hootie Mack was alright, BBD was terrible, and Three Stripes was a comeback album for that ass.

All in all, I had a great time doing research.

Now, in ranking all the songs, I had to set aside a few rules.

1. The top 10 list was going to be mostly songs from Poison, just because.
2. I would only rank the remixes (which were mostly excellent) if I liked them better than the album or radio version of the song. This was hard because Do Me had like 25 remixes. And I listened to each one with delicate detail.
3. As terrible as BBD is, I still had to rank the songs. I mean, really, if I could rank this album how I feel, it’s Bell Biv Devoe’s 25th worst album and they only made four albums.

Also, “Ready” from Three Stripes isn’t really a full BBD song, so I didn’t rank it. But it does feature Doug E. Fresh doing some dope beat boxing.

Lastly, as much as I love these dudes, I’m going to call it how I see (or heard) it. They have some great, great stuff in their catalog, but there are some misses in there to. We’ll get to the misses quickly.

So, as we proceed to give you what you need, I present to you all of Bell Biv DeVoe’s songs ranked from last to first.

40. – 30. Every song on BBD
Okay, this was cheating. But really, BBD is a really bad album. Recorded during 2000-2001, the guys, who were 10 years outside of Poison, made an album that seemed to fit three different themes.

They were:
A. I’m feeling myself.
B. I’m going to pretend that I’m still as famous as I used to be.
C. I’m going to disrespect women because I think it’s cool.

Even in 2000, when it seemed that every rapper and R&B act felt the need to be mean to lady-folk, it’s still despicable. I’m just going to give you the names of the songs. You tell me if this is an album that you’re going to listen to.

Sic’ Wit’ It
Da Hot Shit (Aight)
Breezy
Shorty Gone Get It
Dance Bitch
Pesos
Scandalous
I Ain’t Going Nowhere
In My Crib
Since I Blew
Home Alone

I’m going to guess that even Bell Biv DeVoe’s biggest fans (of which I am one of) won’t apologize for this one. We’re just going keep it moving and pretend this didn’t happen.

29. Lovely (Hootie Mack)
This is a really weird song. So weird in fact, I had to reach out to Big Money Mike for an explanation.

He didn’t know, so there must not be a story here.

If you’ve listened to “Do Me” (and we’ll get into a full explanation about that song further down the list), there’s an infamous Ron DeVoe lyric about an underage groupie. You’d think, three years later, BBD would run from that subject. But no, instead, they double down.

She’s truly untouchable because she’s only sixteen. I guess we gotta wait. Sixteen will get you twenty, so call me when you get this many.

Did they think this would be a sufficient response to the backlash of Do Me? I need answers from my dudes. The only reason this isn’t the worst song in their catalog is because it wasn’t on the BBD album.

28. Nickel (Hootie Mack)
Nickel is the lead song on BBD’s second album. The term “hootie mack” is an old school term used to describe marijuana. Did you know that these are also street names for marijuana – the devil’s lettuce, left-handed cigarettes, and that yum yum?

So, basically, BBD’s second album was all about the weed. “Nickel” sounds like a song that was created when all the guys were high out of their mind. At least they were living their gimmick, which I respect.

Bell Biv DeVoe

27. All Dat There (Three Stripes)
This is the worst Usher song you’ve ever heard.

(By the way, DeVoe’s rhyme has the lyric, “My sex game frio.” I love DeVoe. But sometimes, he really can be the worst.)

26. Hot Damn (Three Stripes)
I’m just going to give you the first few lyrics.

I know… I know
I need you near me
But I don’t think you hear me clearly
Got me… in my feelings like February
I know… I ain’t the 1st, no January, girl
Cold as Ben and Jerry
Let me put you on top. You the perfect cherry, you know
My back so legendary I been doin’ this since Moe, Curly and Larry, I

Moe, Curly, and Larry? The Three Stooges’ prime was in the 30s and 40s. You guys aren’t that old. Let’s keep it moving.

25. The Situation (Hootie Mack)
24. Lost In The Moment (Hootie Mack)

I know that in 1993 it was en vogue to slow down the production and make it as funky as possible, but these songs are flat out boring. These feel like Jodeci b-sides rather than true Bell Biv DeVoe songs.

“The Situation” tells a story about an estranged relationship and the woman comes back pregnant.

A. I wonder if it was biographical.
B. Biv ruins it with a description about his condom breaking and that’s how it happened. And then I stopped wondering if it was biographical.

23. Hootie Mack (Hootie Mack)
The sample of Hamilton Bohannon’s “Save Their Souls” is awesome. For the most part, I enjoy the production of this song. Jay Z would do it one better with Cashmere Thoughts.

But it’s a throwaway track lyrically. As you can imagine, they were probably on that hootie mack when they were recording it, so we’ll just keep it moving.

22. Finally (Three Stripes)
At first, I really dug this track. And I still kinda do. But it’s more so because I’m a sucker for nostalgia. I mean, BBD and SWV together as acronyms on the same song? Ricky Bell and Coko trade back and forth in a nice way, but not in a super interesting way. BBD has historically tried to stay current (and maybe to a fault), but with this song, they nearly adult contemporary themselves. I don’t even condemn them for it. But it seems boring compared to the rest of what they tried to do on Three Stripes.

21. Ghetto Booty (Hootie Mack)
With a song title like “Ghetto Booty”, you’d think that my ranking might be a little high. But in fact, this song is really fun. It’s super juvenile, but still fun (even if the first lyric of the song is Mike Biv saying, “Pound, pound the booty”).

It made me wonder how many other songs in the history of music were titled the same. There are many, many songs titled the same, including one by someone named YB which may or may not stand for Young Bud. But I’m guessing that in his version of Ghetto Booty, there wasn’t a character in the song named Boom Boom Belinda, like in this song.

(Notice how we haven’t had a song from Poison yet? Even the worst song on Poison is one of the best songs in their catalog.)

20. Incredible (Three Stripes)
One of my qualms with Three Stripes, which came out 16 years after the terrible BBD, is that there aren’t any real slow jams. And there aren’t really that many things better than hearing Ricky Bell slow it down. “Incredible” is more mid-tempo than it is slow jam, but it’s still a nice song. Subject-matter wise, this is like the 2017 version of the ghetto booty. What’s incredible about this girl? Well, her body. And probably her ghetto booty too.

19. Please Come Back (Hootie Mack)
Hey, here’s a slow jam.

Positive: It’s like a Ricky Bell solo with no bars from Biv and DeVoe.
Negative: It’s a Janet Jackson knockoff (Come Back To Me).

18. Find A Way (Three Stripes)
17. Show Me The Way (Hootie Mack)

Are these songs put together because they are similarly titled? Maybe.

“Find A Way” features a Ron DeVoe lyric that goes, “I get a check just to turn my neck.” It also features a lyric that goes, “I was writing this verse walking off my jet.” Like I mentioned, he can be the worst sometimes.

It’s too braggadocios for my taste, but at least it’s modern and the type of song that is still BBD with the understanding that these guys are nearly 50 years old. It’s mostly harmless fun.

“Show Me The Way” is one of the only socially conscious songs in BBD’s catalog. It also features one of the only Biv and DeVoe raps that don’t feature them trying to slob someone down. It doesn’t really fit their style, but I really dig it. It doesn’t entirely work because Biv and DeVoe do a weird voice in their second verse and it takes away from the smartness of their lyrics.

16. Don’t Go (Three Stripes)
This is what BBD should sound like in 2017. It features modern production with sweet singing from Ricky Bell. Where it falters is when Biv and DeVoe go sing-songy on their rhymes.

But what it also shows is that even if you’re predominantly a 90s act, if produced correctly, you can come correct (talk about a 90s phrase) in 2017.

15. Ain’t Nut’in’ Changed (Poison)

We finally have our first song from Poison. What’s wrong with it? Not really anything. It’s funky. It moves. And has a nice little hook that goes, “No pain, no gain, ain’t nut’in’ changed.”

But it’s one of the few BBD songs where Ricky Bell doesn’t have a big part. It’s a Biv and DeVoe special. And BBD’s best songs have a specific construct. 1. Ricky Bell is singing his ass off. 2. Biv and DeVoe get in and get out. This song is missing number 1.

14. Run (Three Stripes)
“Run” is the first single from the latest album. And yes, it takes short cuts. It samples the same Herb Alpert song, “Rise”, that was used for the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize”. If you haven’t heard “Rise” before, here you go:

The problem with this song is that the sample is entirely like the D-Dot, Ron Lawrence, Sean “Puffy” Combs sample for “Hypnotize”. Mike Biv even takes a lyric from that song. But guess what? It’s still fly.

While “Run” is about someone running away from a relationship, it should really be about what you do when a Kardashian shows interest in you. RUN! (Shout out to Jalen and Jacoby.)

13. Above The Rim (Hootie Mack)
I love songs about basketball. You want to win me over in your song? Rap about Tim Hardaway or Jason Kidd. I’m in. In this case, Biv raps about Hardaway and also says he palms the ball like the booty. Of course I’m in.

Here’s what’s weird about this though:

“Above The Rim” is the official first single from Hootie Mack. Or maybe it’s the second. I’m not quite sure. We’ll talk about “Gangsta” shortly, which I always thought was the first single. Hootie Mack was released in the summer of 1993. In the spring of 1994, an actual basketball movie starring Leon, Duane Martin, and Tupac Shakur came out with the same exact title. The soundtrack to that movie was a pretty big deal at the time, except it didn’t have the song by the same name as the movie by BBD on it! Come on Suge and Dr. Dre!

I’ve always thought this song was cool because of Biv’s love for hoop. If you watched The New Edition Story, he was supposedly really good.

12. One More Try (Three Stripes)
I said I was a sucker for nostalgia earlier in this very long piece (that’s barely halfway done by the way). And “One More Try” is dripping wet with sticky, sugary, floury, yeasty (wait, that sounds disgusting) nostalgia. Boyz II Men join BBD on the track. And let’s just say they have some history together.

Let’s break this down:
- Bell Biv DeVoe was created as a group within New Edition.
- Boyz II Men (before they were really Boyz II Men) sang in front of Biv backstage at a New Edition concert, performing “Can You Stand The Rain”.
- Biv named them Boyz II Men, which is a song from New Edition’s Heart Break, except spelled normally.

- Boyz II Men records Cooleyhighharmony which is over 9 times platinum at the time of this writing with Biv as the executive producer and manager.
- Boyz II Men records “End Of The Road” for Eddie Murphy’s Boomerang which was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for 13 consecutive weeks.
- They don’t need Biv as their manager anymore and give him the Heisman move.
- Boyz II Men becomes one of the most successful R&B groups of all-time.
- Many, many, many, many years later, life comes full circle (which is also the name of a Boyz II Men album) and Boyz II Men record with BBD.

You can see why I enjoyed this song so much. If roller skating was still around, this would be the song that everyone would skate to with their date.

11. I’m Better (Three Stripes)
You can’t blame the fellas for not being able to recreate who they were in 1990. It’s not possible. But damn it if “I’m Betta” doesn’t try and nearly succeed. If you played a 1990s BBD song for someone who hadn’t heard BBD (meaning, a millennial) and then played this song right after, they probably wouldn’t know the two songs were 27 years apart.

The song is about how the fellas are better than their crush’s man. DeVoe even raps, “So make him your ex and make me your next, what.” Never change, Ronnie.

10. I Do Need You Remix (WBBD – Booticity!)
The remix to “I Do Need You” isn’t really all that different at all from the original version that’s also known as the last original track on Poison. The production is fairly different, and slightly for the better.

The best part of this song is Ricky’s guttural, “Is it true what they say? That uh, actions speak louder than words!” Ricky meant that shit.

(By the way, someone uploaded the remix and just put a character who probably should’ve been in Street Fighter as the photo. I knew I had to use it for the post.)

9. Let Me Know Something?! (Poison)
I really thought long and hard about this and had to select the album track over the remix. The remix uses Janet Jackson’s “Gimme a beat!” before segueing into Snap’s “The Power”. The production slightly changes and the vocals seem slightly sped up. And then it just jumps around like crazy. It’s like they couldn’t decide which way to go with the remix and threw all their five best ideas into a cornucopia of madness. I’ll stick with the album version, but still, it’s close.

This song is the not-so-nice story of guy chases girl and because girl doesn’t dig him, he thinks she’s stuck up and in the end disses her.

Ricky is great as per usual, but Biv and DeVoe are entirely effective with rhymes here. These rhymes aren’t the second coming of Rakim, but they aren’t super easy rhymes to spit like usual.

Oh no, now you know that I do shows with Bell Biv DeVoe now you wanna say hello?
I still say hell no
Well yo, you used to be miss prim and proper, miss primadonna, Now you’re a goner cause you’re no longer
The apple of my eye
Kiss all that crap goodbye
You’re fly but you try to play high post
Don’t say hi when I walk by so
Stop all the frontin’, huffin’ and puffin’
Let me know somethin’

I always, always love the term “play high post” which most people reading this should know. But if you don’t know, it’s a way to say that a girl is being snobby. Hey fellas, maybe she just wasn’t feeling y’all.

8. Gangsta (20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best Of Bell Biv DeVoe)
I first heard this song on an episode of “The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air” when Carlton allowed BBD to rent out the Banks’ mansion to record their video.

I then heard it on the radio. But it was only once or twice. Then, it disappeared.

It was supposed to be the lead single off Hootie Mack (or maybe it was the first single, I’m still not sure) and had that same Poison sound. The song is literally about their girlfriend being a gangster. From what I’ve been able to find, the song was released as a single. But what I’ve also read is that it was supposed to be the lead single off BBD’s second album, but because of sample issues, it was scrapped from the album completely. That’s why it’s available on 2002′s Best Of set.

Like I mentioned, it was the closest thing to Poison that they’ve recorded since. But at the same time, it was so familiar, that it sounds a bit also ran. I still think it’s a damn good BBD song and because of the mysteriousness of it (in that, I didn’t have a copy of it for nearly 10 years).

(The balding video director in “The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air” scene would later play my namesake in an episode of “Beverly Hills, 90210″ in which he was profiled as a campus rapist. He wasn’t the rapist, but he sure looked like a mean guy.)

7. Dope! (Poison)
“Dope!” has some strong remixes too, but I have to go with the original. Oddly, it’s now called “She’s Dope!” because the label didn’t want to associate the song with drugs. I don’t think anyone associated it with that when it was released. Momma called it “Dope!”, I’m a call it “Dope!”

It’s the first track on Poison and follows the perfect BBD blueprint. Ricky lays down hot vocals over a new jack swing beat, hits his falsetto in the hook, Biv and DeVoe get in and out, and you have a pretty damn good song.

It was the fifth and last single the album, but when it was released as a single (along with a music video), it was the EPOD remix version rather than the album version. The vocals were new and they added an extra verse. This specific remix is very good, but I’ve always liked the album version best.

6. B.B.D. (I Thought It Was Me)?
This song was the third single from Poison and really showed the power of that album. It was slightly funkier than the title track and not nearly as scandalous as “Do Me” which we’ll get to in a bit. The bottom line is that it’s just a cool, summery track that you can just nod your head to and vibe.

The remix was pretty hot too. The songs aren’t too dissimilar, but everything is turned up a notch and a half and it’s even more fun than the original. Still gotta give the nod to the OG. Man, that Poison album was really good.

The narrative of the song is that the fellas meet up with a hot, fast, and loose girl. To their surprise, she’s not acting this way because of them. She’s like this every day.

As an aside, I’ve never understood the inter-verse wordplay between Biv and DeVoe. It’s like a contradiction.

Biv:

Yo’ Ron, was-SUP, wit that
Fly girl you left the jam with?
She’s stickin’ closer to you
Than the bread on the meat of my sandwich
I know you knocked the boots cuz

DeVoe:

Nawwww, it wasn’t even like that
She left the room to get comfy and cozy (wha?)
Then the R to the O to the N got nosey

Wait, what do you mean DeVoe? Sounds like it was exactly like that.

Are we really at the top five? (Cracks knuckles.) Let’s do this, like Brutus.

5. Do Me video remix (Poison)
How can their second most recognizable song only be their fifth best song? Well, this song has taken a little bit of a beating over the last 10 years. We’re coming up on the 27th anniversary of it being released as a single and just two days ago, I saw this:

The song is sleazy, sexed up, and dripping with the kind of “I’m the shit” that makes dudes in their young 20s say that they’re ready to smack it up, flip it, and rub it down. But they took it a little too far.

Ronnie DeVoe rapped the following:

Backstage, under age, adolescent
“How ya doin’?” “Fine,” she replied
I sighed, I like to do the wild thing
Action took place
Kinda wet
Don’t forget
The J the I the M the M the Y y’all
I need a body bag

If you can take that lyric out, to me, it’s the second best song they’ve ever done. But because the lyrics aren’t timeless, I have to drop it a few spots.

Also, I’m replacing the original track and single with the video remix. Like I mentioned at the top, they have so many remixes for this song. I’m taking the one that is actually used in the video. It’s kind of close to the Mentally Hip Hop version, but that version is missing the extra verse at the end.


Bell Biv Devoe – Do me by welcomeback

4. Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph and Johnny (Word To The Mutha)! (Club Mentality remix) (Poison Expanded version)
The regular version is much funkier and grittier than the remix, but the remix is like home. Let me explain.

Bobby Brown left New Edition to go solo and Ralph Tresvant was interested in going solo as well. With the band’s future a bit up in the air, Johnny Gill was invited to be part of the group despite Ralph not yet deciding to leave. This is the five-some that would go on to record their classic Heart Break. Soon thereafter, Ralph and Johnny decided to record solo albums, leaving Ronnie, Ricky, and Mike to themselves. BBD was created.

Poison is actually the second highest selling album of the New Edition members. Only Bobby Brown’s Don’t Be Cruel sold more. BBD shouted out their NE brothers throughout the album, including this song, which is all about them.

This brings us to the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards, hosted by Arsenio Hall. One of the marketing campaigns was promising a New Edition reunion. It’d only been two years since the last NE album was released, but they were also promising Bobby, who hadn’t recorded with the group since 1986. As you can imagine, I was one hyped 14-year old kid.

Bell Biv DeVoe performed “Poison” first, which led into Bobby’s interesting choice of song. He decided to perform an unreleased song called “Tap Into My Heart” which was supposed to be on an album that never actually got released. As you can imagine, the fans wanted to hear something from Don’t Be Cruel, and didn’t really know what to think of the new material. Bobby seemed a bit bothered too. Johnny Gill came through next with “Rub You The Right Way”, his big single. Ralph Tresvant finished it up with “Sensitivity”, his single. They all also decided not to wear shirts.

Then they came back as all six to perform old New Edition jams. Bobby was on stage during “If It Isn’t Love” and “Can You Stand The Rain” which he never performed on and Johnny was on stage during “Mr. Telephone Man” which he didn’t perform on. And then, it ended.

Were they ever recording again? Was it a true reunion?

The following year, BBD gave New Edition fans a treat with their remix to this song, simply titled “Word To The Mutha”.

Not only were all six on the same screen together, they all had parts in the song.

My favorite part of the song/video is when Johnny kicks it off. The order of the names on the song went this way: Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph and Johnny. But Johnny puts himself first and Bobby last. It’s so great and so petty at the same time. Listen for yourself.

Word to the mutha-Bell Biv Devoe feat. New Edition from JoonSik Park on Vimeo.

My second favorite part is at about 1:47 mark, you see Biv slobbin’ down someone in the hallway. After he wipes his mouth, you see that it’s Free, formerly from BET’s 106 & Park.

Thanks to BBD’s remix, New Edition was back, together again, and full of greatness, though it’d take another five years for them to release an album together.

3. When Will I See You Smile Again (Poison)
2. Something In Your Eyes (Hootie Mack)

Wow, a song from Hootie Mack comes in second place on my rankings. Before I get to why, let’s kick the ballistics on both songs.

(Why isn’t there a podcast about late 80s and early 90s pop culture called “Kick The Ballistics”?)

“When Will I See You Smile Again” was the fourth single from Poison and the first to slow it down. It features Ricky Bell singing his behind off. In a sense, it’s a Ricky Bell love song. I know that Biv and DeVoe are singing backup in the video, but I’m not quite sure that they really laid vocals down for this one.

It was also not a sex crazed song. It was a true “I want you back, girl because I messed up” kind of a love song that worked so well in the late 80s and early 90s.

“Something In Your Eyes” is technically the third single from Hootie Mack if you count “Gangsta”, but since “Gangsta” wasn’t on the album, I’m not sure why we count it. It was the only song from BBD’s sophomore release to chart on the Billboard 100.

Comparing the two songs is like comparing Boyz II Men to Jodeci. “When Will I See You Smile Again” is full of begging and “Something In Your Eyes” is full of swag (though I’m not sure what a matter of factions is supposed to mean). Depending what you enjoy in your slow jams is probably what will differentiate these songs for you. Both are great. Though I do think the latter has aged slightly better.

Then again, when BBD performs live, they’re definitely going to play the former and might get to the latter.

1. The Best Things in Life Are Free (Mo’ Money Soundtrack’)
What? You didn’t know that BBD (and Ralph T) was all up in this Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross song from the Damon Wayans and Stacy Dash movie? Okay, I was just trying to head fake you. The number one song was pretty much a given from the second I started writing (which seems like 500 years ago).

1. Poison (Poison)
If you go to a night club, which at 41 years of age, my best night club days are behind me, you’re going to hear this song. Well, if the club is cool. There are a number of danceable songs that are timeless. Those songs are played at night clubs and weddings. And Poison plays well at both. It’s a must on everyone’s party playlist.

It’s also the song that made me really think that Ricky Bell was the underrated New Edition singer. Even though Biv and DeVoe are at their ultimate best, Ricky just owns the hell out of this song.

Also, thanks to Dr. Freeze who gave the song to the fellas. The song is literally about a fly girl who you’re going to fall in love with, but you might get burned. It also features the iconic, “Never trust a big butt and a smile,” line.

If Poison isn’t your jam, I’m just not sure we can be friends.

Yo, Slick, blow…

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