S. Tia Brown
June 06, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

ARTIST Jodeci ALBUM Forever My Lady (Uptown/MCA, 1991) AMPLE EVIDENCE OF GREATNESS Bare-chested and beltless, these ambassadors of new jack swing challenged the antiquated template for loverman quartets by brazenly abandoning suits, intricate choreography, and suavities. Instead, the North Carolina natives placed their Southern charm where it would count the most: lyrics and delivery. Singers K-Ci and JoJo’s soulful, guttural vocals pledged everlasting devotion over writer-producer DeVante Swing’s sultry synths. ”Forever My Lady” and ”Stay,” tender yet seductive ballads, gave audiences their first taste of the romantic homeboy and revolutionized modern R&B. AWE-INSPIRING TRACK ”Come & Talk to Me,” the quintessential ”How you doin’?” anthem (later remixed with arguably the funkiest drumbeat ever set to an R&B track), dominated urban airwaves with its come-hither earnestness. LINGERING EFFECTS With the group on extended hiatus since 1996, copycats have emerged, Dru Hill being the most notable. Rumors of a Jodeci reunion float across the Internet like an urban myth. In the interim, brothers K-Ci and JoJo have released four trite albums as a duo.

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