The 37th Annual Grammy Awards : R / B / Rap : Boyz II Men: Safe, but Sure Winners


If the Grammys are any indication, double R&B; winner Boyz II Men is the future of R&B.;

Let’s hope not.

Not these colorless, conservative, preppy-ish guys. It’s a crime what they do to songwriter Babyface’s potentially sensual “I’ll Make Love to You,” which won for R&B; song. Despite the title, it’s as racy as a hymn.

What’s worse, Boyz II Men is on Motown Records, the company that gave us great groups like the Temptations and the Four Tops, a company that was built on passionate, gutsy R&B; singing. Technically, the four members of Boyz II Men are fine singers. It’s their bland, milquetoast approach that’s so annoying.

But it’s hard to quibble with singer-songwriter Babyface’s Grammy for best male R&B; vocal. He was the class of that field.



As usual, most of the R&B; nominations were absurd, including citing over-the-hill veterans like Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin. But give the selection committee credit. It did recognize one major new talent--singer-songwriter Me’Shell NdegeOcello, who’s been stretching the boundaries of the genre. Musically, her “Plantation Lullabies” album puts Boyz II Men’s Grammy-winning “II” to shame. And her sultry, gritty “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night)”--the real R&B; song of the year--lost, but at least it was nominated.

In rap, the nominations generally have been woefully out of touch. This year, though, some fairly hard-core nominees were included--but by default, since so little pop-rap is being recorded these days. So artists like Cypress Hill, Coolio, Warren G had to get nominations.

It’s no surprise, though, that they didn’t win. Given the voting tendencies, the less-threatening female rap artists--Queen Latifah (solo) and Salt-N-Pepa (group)--were a shoo-in for Grammys.

Wait ‘til next year, though. If pop-rap keeps fading, you may see all gangsta rappers nominated. That may be grounds to discontinue the entire category.