As one of the founding members of the mega-quintet, New Edition, and its offshoot hip-hop / smoothed out / on the R&B tip trio, Bell Biv Devoe, Michael Lamont Bivins (a.k.a. Biv, Biv 10 or, more recently, Sporty Rich) is known, most notably, for being the business minded entrepreneur of the legendary collective. Having already discovered a plethora of acts, i.e., Another Bad Creation, 702, and the most successful R&B male vocal group of all time, Boyz II Men (who alone have sold more than 60 million records), Mr. Bivins has now opened a whole new chapter in his lengthy, over two and a half decades long, career in entertainment.
As an online correspondent for TNT Overtime, Biv hosts his very own segment, “Running The Point with Michael Bivins,” and he is also in charge of Artist Development for Bad Boy Entertainment’s “Making The Band 4.” In addition to these fresh and exciting ventures, Michael has reached a huge milestone with his best friends/family/group-mates — Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Ralph and Johnny — as New Edition begins gearing up for the launch of their highly anticipated, super secretive, 25th anniversary magnum opus.
BallerStatus.com caught up with Biv to get the scoop on what’s new.
BallerStatus.com: I know this news isn’t entirely brand new, but how did you even wind up getting the artist development gig for MTV’s “Making the Band 4?”
Michael Bivins: Um… it jumped off by Puff reaching out and saying that he was about to do season four. He was looking for a boy band, and he was asking me to come and bring my New Edition eye and, you know, my BBD/Boyz II Men eye, and come and help him put together a hot group. So, it kinda went from us talking on the phone, to me talking to MTV and working out the deal. Then from there, just went out there and went on the road and, um, started just discovering the kids and seeing some of the special talent in the different cities. And, kinda figuring out who my favorites were early on, and seeing if they could make it all the way to New York. The experience was incredible. It was one of the most fun and enjoying moments I think I’ve had in the music business just because it came at a time in my life where I was waiting to do something that was fun, and didn’t seem so normal routine. That was like a different routine for me and I enjoyed it.
BallerStatus.com: Did you agree with Diddy’s selection of Robert, Willie, Qwanell, Brian Andrews, and Mike, who are now known to the masses as Day26?
Michael Bivins: Yeah, he picked the ones I picked, so yeah we on the same page. Those are my picks. When he asked us to pick our picks during the show, those were my picks. Four of those picks were part of my picks.
BallerStatus.com: Coming off of that last New Edition album, One Love in 2004, which was the group’s first and only for Bad Boy, there were talks of, maybe, some, pardon the pun, bad blood, between the powers that be at the label and you all stemming from the way the solid, but commercially overlooked record was handled. Didn’t this affect your working relationship with Puff?
Michael Bivins: Um…I never had problems with Puff, so I really don’t… you know… I don’t know what you mean by that. That was just a bunch of stuff that was just being said, but we’ve been good. We was always good. We both executives, so we’re both on the same page the majority of the time.
BallerStatus.com: So, you really feel that he did all he could to properly promote One Love?
Michael Bivins: I had a great time with that project, you know? I have nothing but good memories about the project, and I think Puff did his thing and I think we did our thing. I think it was a win-win for both sides.
BallerStatus.com: Okay. So tell me, how did this who TNT thing come about?
Michael Bivins: My good friend, (retired NBA player and current TV announcer) Kenny Smith, he turned me on to the producers. I told him I wanted to be a part of the TNT family, and he put me in position. From there, I just started doing my segments and we got a great working relationship. Once again, it’s fun, it’s different and it looks like we might have something that goes through the whole season, which is what I’m hoping for and what they’re hoping for also.
BallerStatus.com: What have been your goals and plans for your segment, “Running The Point With Michael Bivins?”
Michael Bivins: Just to keep it hot, man. You know, to talk to the ball players, ask ’em different questions, give people different insights of what they normally might not see, what they getting into after a game, or something. You know, to go to the practices, go with them to the house, you know, a lifestyle type of show that’s entertaining, you know? It’s off the cuff and it’s with me, so they don’t have to feel like they’re talking to the analyst that’s trying to beat something negative out of ’em. When they see me, they know it’s all good and we can be comfortable and not make it such an interview, but more like a conversation.
BallerStatus.com: Cool. Well, the million dollar question. What exactly is going on with New Edition’s forthcoming, anxiously awaited (hush, hush) 25th anniversary project?
Michael Bivins: Everything is just being put on the table. Everything is [just now] being put on the table. Once we get all of the pieces, then we’ll start to map out exactly how we’re gonna celebrate.
BallerStatus.com: You all have been on the road together quite a bit lately…
Michael Bivins: How often do you see us perform ’cause we’ve been on tour for five years now?
BallerStatus.com: Yeah, I went to the last two shows you all did in Oakland, California. So, how was that whole experience when you all first got back together again to perform?
Michael Bivins: We tour all year long, so we don’t reunite. We’re always together. So, yeah, there’s nothing to get used to. It’s an everyday thing, man. It’s what we do.
BallerStatus.com: So, are you all gonna, at least, wait for this new record to come out before embarking on another New Edition tour?
Michael Bivins: Yeah, yeah, we’re gonna wait ’til the new album and then we’ll put it together. Kinda map out which way to go, when to go, and that whole little thing — the timing of everything.
BallerStatus.com: You also have your Sporty Rich Enterprises venture…
Michael Bivins: It’s gonna be sports, it’s gonna be entertainment, it’s gonna be clothing, it’s gonna be movies, it’s gonna be short film, it’s gonna be everything, man. It’s gonna encompass multimedia to its fullest form, at its highest level, and I’m gonna spearhead it. You know, it is gonna be artists and everything, and right now I’m branding Sporty Rich in what I’m doing. So, I’m spearheading the new name, [and trying to] get everybody wet and get them ready, and then I’ll start bringing the other pieces — the clothes, the artists, you know, features films, short films, what have you. Just different things, so it’ll just be coming at you from all different directions.
BallerStatus.com: Being that you have sustained such longevity in this business, what has been the secret to your success?
Michael Bivins: I enjoy what I do, you know, so to me it’s just like, you know, a part of my lifestyle though to create and to keep gathering new things and staying current. So, it’s just what I do, it’s a part of what I do.
BallerStatus.com: Because you wear so many different hats, is there anything else left that you haven’t done that you would still like to pursue?
Michael Bivins: Um… not as of right now, uh-huh. Other than the things that I told you about with films and all that, I like to stay in my lane. Those are the things that interest me right now.
BallerStatus.com: Who is Michael Bivins?
Michael Bivins: Um… I’m just a cool cat, you know? That’s it. I just want them to know when they say “cool,” they could put my name on the list.
BallerStatus.com: You seem crazy busy at all times, but what do you enjoy doing most in your down time?
Michael Bivins: Chillin’, just staying cool. The normal stuff. My chores — cutting grass, cutting Christmas trees, you know, taking out the trash, you know? It’s what I do. I switch out of that mode, and I switch into husband and daddy mode.
BallerStatus.com: Since you have such an amazing eye and ear for talent, what are your thoughts on the music that’s out there nowadays?
Michael Bivins: I’m not even judging. I don’t really judge this thing. I just judge that we put out music, people buy music, people buy what they like, so the state of music is in the hands of the public. It’s not in the hands of nobody else. So, you just move with the reality. If they want that music, you give ’em that music. If they want that record, that act, [you give it to ’em]. It’s pretty simple right now, you know, so I don’t even judge the industry. I just play when I’m ready to get [out] on the playing field. Other than that, I just enjoy it and I watch everything, and, you know, I don’t judge. I just enjoy the entertainment of everything. The changes it’s going through, everything. It’s all for the taking. Whoever wants it, can go get it. That’s the good thing about it. If you want it, you can go get it.
BallerStatus.com: With that being said, and not to put you on the spot, but what artists would be found on your iPod or in your CD changer?
Michael Bivins: I’m listening to a new artist of mine right now. I’m kinda not really focusing in on anything else, or playing anything else. I’m just listening to a new artist of mine, and I’m just absorbing their lifestyle to get ’em ready to come and drop good music. And, when I turn on the radio, I can kinda get a little bit of what I’m not playing because different stations are playing different things. So, I just kinda let the radio give me a break from my one CD that I’m playing.
BallerStatus.com: I guess it’s too early or soon to reveal who that would be?
Michael Bivins: Aw yeah, I’ll save that. It’s not time yet. Just I’m sucking it in right now.
BallerStatus.com: I’m pretty sure that just about everybody on this planet knows the history of New Edition, but how did Michael Bivins first discover music?
Michael Bivins: Um… I mean, you know, sh– I can’t pinpoint the age, but I was a block party kid. I would go to the block party and I would dance with the girls. That’s when it interested me, because I was smart enough to know when to go meet the girl, when the hot record came on. So, probably right then at that point — the girl led me to the music.
BallerStatus.com: You are from Roxbury, Massachusetts, right?
Michael Bivins: Yes.
BallerStatus.com: Were you influenced by anyone in particular?
Michael Bivins: Our manager Brooke Payne. I mean, he was the star. He was the one with the groups at the time. So, he was my inspiration. I liked the way he was doing things. He was the local guy that had all the hot steps, and all the hot groups, so he was our Quincy Jones in the hood. He was that guy.
BallerStatus.com: As a member of New Edition, musically, what does Michael Bivins bring to the table creatively?
Michael Bivins: I’m just the laid back guy that’s in my own lane, just trying to do what I do and not try to be like anybody else, in terms of what they’re doing. I don’t wish bad on nobody. I understand what it is, and I wait my turn. So, I’m just the laid back guy. I’m like the animal, the lion on Discovery Channel. I’m just chilling ’til it’s time for me to get my prey, time for me to go to work. I just play life simple, man. I’m laid back, and that’s the best way to describe me: just laid back.
BallerStatus.com: Take me through a typical day in the studio with New Edition. How does the magic actually happen?
Michael Bivins: We go in at different times when we go in and knock out our parts. I mean, that’s kinda like the way it grows most of the time. You go if you got a part, you knock your part out. If not, you just sit around and you just studio morale, so it’s pretty easy, man. I like to go when it’s time for me to do my thing because people need one on one time to get their vocals right and stuff. So, it could be boring sometimes, so you go shoot pool or you get on your cell phone or you just stand outside in the parking lot and talk to your crew. That’s pretty much the thing of it, man, just to make a long story short and short story shorter. That’s pretty much the thing of it. It’s a simple day, and you wait for your part and you get hype, and then if you finish you trying to get out of there.
BallerStatus.com: Biggest career achievement?
Michael Bivins: I can’t say [what] that is. I think lasting this long is my biggest moment.
BallerStatus.com: Now this is N.E.’s 25th Anniversary year in the biz…
Michael Bivins: Yeah.
BallerStatus.com: I know you mentioned that the project is basically still being mapped out, but what would you personally like to see accomplished with this release?
Michael Bivins: Just to celebrate, man. Just to celebrate. Just take it as it comes. Celebrate, and take it as it comes. No, nothing. I would say, “Just don’t put too much on it. Just let it come to you.”
BallerStatus.com: So, there’s no real agenda to go along with the anniversary?
Michael Bivins: Nah, I just want to celebrate, man. I just want to celebrate whatever it is that we choose to do. If it’s just one day or whatever, that decision that we make I look forward to the decision of what we make.
BallerStatus.com: I’ve heard there will be a book, and even a feature movie to accompany the album and tour. Is this still in the plans?
Michael Bivins: That’s part of the pieces on the table. That’s what I’m saying, once I really know I can tell you. I mean, all of that’s in the works, but there’s no definitive deal for anything to happen right just yet. (At press time, there were unconfirmed reports that New Edition had signed with Geffen Records)
BallerStatus.com: Have you all had any talks about incorporating music from each individual act — BBD, Ralph Tresvant, Johnny Gill and Bobby Brown into the anniversary — maybe like a five CD set?
Michael Bivins: I don’t even know. I don’t know. I guess if those things are on the table and we make that decision, that would come out of that same room also on which way we’re gonna go.
BallerStatus.com: What about the DVD New Edition filmed at the Koger Center, at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Will this ever see the light of day?
Michael Bivins: Oh no, we probably won’t put that one out, uh-huh. That was a limited run right there.
BallerStatus.com: Projecting ahead, where do you see yourself futuristically speaking?
Michael Bivins: Home chillin’, raising my kids. You know, doing what I would want to do, not doing something I have to.
BallerStatus.com: Is there anything I left out that you’d like to add or offer?
Michael Bivins: Nah, I’m pretty good, man. I think we covered a lot, man. I think… just get the information out to the people, man, and do what you do. I just want to thank you for taking the time out to talk to me, man, and, you know, hopefully once I know what we’re doing we can speak again and I can give you a little bit more insight. But, I really can’t give you insight ’cause I don’t know what the plan is. But other than that, man, just TNT Overtime, MTV’s “Making the Band: Season Four” (is airing). Man, we’re just gonna take it from there, and groove the year real nice and be very effective.