It’s not often nowadays that the word “timeless” isn’t thrown around easily. As a matter of fact, most people can’t even gauge a real R&B classic anymore. People usually refer to the days of the past like an old folk story when schooling the youth on music with meaning.
Today Ballerstatus.com and Tha Advocate had the privilege to pick the brain of one of the most influential R&B icons to date, Michael Bivins. He was in New Edition, Bell Biv Devoe, and brought you many famous acts of the 90s including Boyz II Men. People of yesterday call him Michael Bivins. In 2010, we call him Mike Biv, aka Sportyrich. Nothing has slowed down Biv in present day. In fact, outside of music alone, Mike has started a Sportyrich movement, which houses several different acts. And, he’s set to host the first installment of our very own Digital Dynasty R&B Series. He continues to be a major force behind the scenes in the music industry.
Before music, there was basketball for Biv. Now it’s ironic that you will probably see Mike Biv on your TV in the future as a sportscaster for the NCAA. Sometimes things just go full circle and start a new beginning. With that said lets get into this.
BallerStatus.com: Why was there no New Edition 25th Reunion?
There’s gonna be a celebration. We all are realizing we haven’t done the 25th anniversary any justice yet. We have a lot of family and friends and people in the business who are routing for us. A lot of people understand the dynamics of the group and the personalities and making sure everyone is on the same page. And just leading up to the 25th we all kinda weren’t on the same page. But that happens when you are family and I think everyone is now realizing the group is bigger then any one individual and our audience is waiting for us to give them what they want. They just want to see us together. Maybe we didn’t celebrate in our 25th, but maybe we will in our 27th or 28th. It’s closer then ever.
BallerStatus.com: Does this possible reunion consist of just an album? Or touring? Or what can it look like?
Mike Biv: I think all of us, at different times, have done individual interviews, and everyone has given off there vision of what they think it should be. Myself sometimes, being an executive, I tend to put out there what I think it’s going to be. But I think this time around, coming back together and respecting each individual as an individual with ideas. I think we need to sit down with our management and hear everyone out individually and let’s come up with how we think we should celebrate. So I don’t know what that is right now, Advo. I don’t know which way we are gonna go. I know a show will definitely be in the mix. To be honest I don’t want to know today.
BallerStatus.com: What’s the status of Bell Biv Devoe?
Mike Biv: B.B.D. man … we been pounding that pavement and kicking that ass to keep it real with you. We’re our own type of group man. I was just saying to myself “I know TLC and a few other people took the formula and ran with it, but ain’t nobody like us.” I don’t even know if this generation even understands the fusion of R&B and hip-hop was formulated through Bell Biv Devoe. I know people give Mary J. Blige a lot of respect for what she did — singing over hip-hop beats and having Biggie and different cats rhyming over her records — but what I think “Poison” is a great example of hip-hop and R&B.
BallerStatus.com: Is it safe to say there will be another B.B.D. album in the next year or two?
Mike Biv: I think there will be B.B.D. singles. I think we are going one record at a time. We haven’t said we were gonna make an album. We are just gonna cut music and release it. There’s no “if its not on radio or TV, it’s a failure.” We’re just serving it to our audience and putting it in our show. We test it out with our audience and get a feel of what they like to hear from us. Maybe when we are done going one record at a time, it will all add up to an album.
BallerStatus.com: You guys have that song, “Welcome To My Heart”. In my opinion that is real R&B to the core. Do you think putting out a “real” song like that in this climate that it will make an impact?
Mike Biv: When we did it, we put it out last year around Valentine’s Day, just as a single for the lovers or for the players who just want to buy a new drink for the girl. Or for the female BBD fan who just wanted to know that we still love them. Fortunately, we went to Philly in the studio with Ivan and Carvin, who is responsible for that Philly sound (Musiq Soulchild, Jill Scott). They specialize in that real R&B. I think the record is a really great record, but what I think and asked the fellas later is: “Maybe we should take that joint and remix it and put them New Edition voices on it.” It’s just as much a New Edition record as well as a BBD record.
You can always freak that. You can always see us in the cream suits with the hard bottom shoes freaking that chorus and putting those fly steps to it. You can hear Ralph, Bobby, and Johnny’s voices banging up against Ricky’s as a remix and prelude up to the New Edition project. That would work also.
BallerStatus.com: Being in both groups who put a mark on the industry, which group do you hold closer to your heart?
Mike Biv: The one that got me out the projects, New Edition. New Edition took me off my game plan from basketball. It was so explosive and so crazy for young black youth in the 80s, because they had some young black kids to look at. What New Edition has done for ourselves and our families is change our lives. We are not just a group with records out. We are a generation group. This generation right now is not going to be able to have a group to cherish as long as our generation has cherished us. Who was on that path Advo? It was B2K. They started off going with a generation, but they ran into the same problem all the groups ran into. Some inner turmoil they didn’t know how to handle. A little bit of money and success destroyed a great project. It’s going to take the right type of act to be special to have that staying power, so you can see them when you are 14 and go and see them when you are 30 or 40 and everybody is still rocking. It just don’t happen like that no more.
BallerStatus.com: What does it feel like to be apart of such a timeless classic like “Can You Stand The Rain?”
Mike Biv: To be honest with you, we were messing with the right producers. Anytime you can get a Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis back in the 80s after that “Control”, it makes it timeless. The writing is timeless and that’s what people don’t realize is that the people that were penning the songs back then, those were prolific songwriters man. They’re not listening to a beat, figuring out how to get some ass and you know, dropping panties. That’s not where people were coming from man, they were making love in the more respectful way years ago. Nowadays it’s a little more greasier. Rightfully so, things change, but the record is timeless because of the lyrics. It’s a slick way of getting that ass. It’s almost like the champagne and wine, as opposed to pulling out the dollar bill and making it rain.
Mike Biv: You discovered Boyz II Men. There is no debate that if they are not the most successful R&B group of all-time, they are one of the best. How did you discover such a talent? How did that come about?
Mike Biv: They kinda discovered me to keep it funky with you. I just listened to them. I think at a time Advo, and I always wanted to tell people this, I don’t care what no MF say! Brothers was not stopping to listen to people on the spot, doing auditions back then. They were saying to send demos. People were looking in the mirror, trying to figure out how to further there career. I realized that night I met them backstage in Philly, I just took the time out to listen. People don’t realize how important that is: to get out the mirror and just stop and listen and give somebody a chance. It was probably the best thing I ever did in my life because they are one of the biggest accomplishments I ever did in the music business, outside of New Edition. What I did with Boyz II Men was unheard of man.
BallerStatus.com: They were selling out stadiums.
Mike Biv: First of all, we woke up Elvis’s record from 1958. Nobody was focusing on no record charts and records being #1 for 12 and 14 weeks. That was some bullsh**. Nobody was thinking about that because no one thought they could do it. We beat Elvis by 13 weeks and of course, Clive Davis did with Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey. Then after that, it was free for all. But we cracked that history man. Those guys voices man … you know why they work? Because they put real singing back in sh**. Anytime you can turn the music off and you don’t have the vocals running on the dat machine or the computer and you can just keep it funky. It’s almost like Big or Jay or Rakim in the booth with no piece of paper. It don’t get no realer then that man. Those records are organically made man.
BallerStatus.com: You have always stayed relevant. In the music, behind the scenes, TV and video games. In 2010, you have some new ventures including what you are doing with us. Sportyrich is your movement. Can you tell them what Sportyrich Enterprises consists of?
Mike Biv: Sportyrich has a lot of different layers. One is a music house for artists. To find artists, groom artists, cultivate artists and release artists. It’s a movie/television company too. I consider myself like a Martin Scorsese of films, but nobody knows it. I’ve never been able to do a feature, to do a short film to show people my eye. I just live in the movie theatre. I see the most wildest movies and I say “One day I am going to show people another side”. There’s also a television thing. Being down with TNT, “Making The Band”, and of course, performing on many TV shows as an artist. I got a feel for television and the power of the square (the term he used for TV). I want to infiltrate that power with some ideas.
Then there’s clothing. I feel like I fumbled the ball. More or less, I am like a basketball player and I turned the ball over. Back in the 90s man, I was sending out referee shirts and nylon sweat suits. All type of sh** with “Biv 10” on it to all of the bosses and young presidents at record labels. I would put there name on it with my logo and tested my gear. I would find those people wearing my gear at conventions and other functions just giving me the promo. I had an idea for clothes and plus I was “that n****” back then. I just couldn’t get that manufacturing deal back then. Now with Sportyrich, I plan to go back with fashion. I find me to be a pretty fresh and clean type of cat. I already put out the hair brush with BBD and had the whole country in a frenzy. I designed some New Edition suits with the pocket square on the arm, not on the front left chest. I never had a store or a line to represent my sh**. So hopefully with Sportyrich and moving forward with music, television, film and fashion, the company can stand for something and be a one stop shop.
Check out part 2 of our interview with Mike, where he talks about working on “Making The Band” and Day26, his prediction about the Mayweather/Mosley fight, and how today’s executives are on some “You not really hot right now, so we ain’t really f***ing with you” vibe. You can follow Mike Biv on Twitter @MikeBiv.
Photos shot by Joey B of VCDesignz.com, for BallerStatus.com