New Jack Swing & nineties R&B were in full effect for eighties babies on Saturday, November 6th 2017 at Baltimore’s Royal Farms Arena for the 90’s Block Party. The show, which featured some of the most significant stars in R&B music from the late nineties, was a nostalgic trip down memory lane to a time when R&B music ruled the airwaves.
Opening the show was R&B trio Next, who you may remember for their late nineties pop crossover hit “Too Close.” The group, who hasn’t released an album in almost sixteen years, sounded fresh as ever in their brief set. With impressive choreography and charisma, the trio was just as good as the last time I saw them close to twenty years ago. Lead singer, RL, provided a special treat for his longtime fans by doing cover versions of “Just In Case” and “Anything,” which he wrote for fellow R&B singer Jaheim.
Following the performance of Next, the gentlemen of Bad Boy, 112, took the stage and personally were the night’s highlight for me. 112, who recently released their sixth album after a twelve-year hiatus, brought me back to high school with their synchronized choreography & lush vocals. 112 went through all of their hits that fans would want to hear. However, it would have been nice to hear some of their album tracks if only in a brief snippet. Nevertheless, 112 did provide the second-best performance of the night, and hopefully, there’s a headlining tour in the works.
The night’s third performance came courtesy of Ginuwine. While I’ve always considered myself a Ginuwine fan, I have to say his performance was a little underwhelming. While Ginuwine can still dance and sing, he never really connected with the audience. His performance was by the numbers and somewhat forgettable.
Following Ginuwine’s bland performance, Jagged Edge was up next. JE, as they are known to their fans, has been on my blacklist since they released their horrible The Layover album earlier this year. However, when it came time to perform, Jagged Edge more than redeemed themselves. Similar to the previous acts of the night, Jagged Edge had a quick set as well. However, the group provided the audience with all of the hits they would want to hear from their nine album discography. Thankfully, JE didn’t perform any other new material. Instead, they reached into the archives and performed “Put A Little Umph In It”, from their underrated 2007 album, Baby Makin’ Project.
The night’s concluding performance went to none other than Guy, featuring Teddy Riley. It was quite a pleasure to see the members of Guy together on stage. Lead singer Aaron Hall still sounds good despite given his age. Guy’s eponymous debut is still one of the most influential albums of the eighties and hearing material from the album was a treat. Before the night ended, Aaron Hall & Teddy Riley both had solo sets, which came across great.
Despite one lackluster performance, the Baltimore’s 90’s Block Party was a great success. New Jack Swing and R&B music are two dominant music genres, both with sizeable active fan bases that would be great to see live. Hopefully, the Royal Farms Arena has started a new tradition.
Final Grade B