Do you remember when R&B was not only made up of solo artists? This was the time of R&B groups, harmonies, ballads, and music that had a certain swing to it. There was a man at the center of it all named Teddy Riley, and the music genre he created was New Jack Swing. As that era began to fade Teddy struck gold again with a straight up quartet named Blackstreet. It’s been a while since they released any music and their lineup has seen more changes than a babies diaper, but in 2013 they are back…sort of.
From the moment Blackstreet was introduced on the stage at the Best Buy theater you could tell something was different. Yes, the group has gone through yet ANOTHER line up change. This time the main result is youth. The first song of the night was the hit off their second album, Don’t Leave Me. A bold song to start with, especially since the only person people recognized on stage was Teddy Riley. Two of the new members J-Stylez and Lenny Harold seem to have decent voices to carry the songs, however their energy just felt a little too young. Even when singing a ballad like joy some of the vocals came across a little vain. It seemed as though one member of the group J-Stylez was singing more for himself than the audience. While the rest of the guys all hit their proper notes overall the group struggled in the beginning, until Dave Hollister joined them on stage.
The energy level of the audience immediately shot through the roof and the Blackstreet veteran showed the youngins how it’s done. Dave sang lead on the classic Before I let you go and reminded everyone why they loved Blackstreet, great vocal arrangements over melodic production. When the new members played the background the show went smooth but when they took center stage it just didn’t feel like Blackstreet. It was almost as if the Temptations replaced a few of their members with Omarion and J Fizz from B2K (with better voices though…I won’t do the boys THAT bad).
It’s unfortunate that the lineups between those first two albums couldn’t stay together. This new incarnation of Blackstreet just doesn’t seem to work outside of Teddy still being Teddy (how does he look so young?) and Dave still killing on lead vocals. Perhaps if the new members focus on just singing the songs more and less on early Dru Hill type dance moves the future shows will go a bit better.