Fans of R&B legends Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill are steadily talking about positive news involving both men. Sweat is fresh off a Veruz battle with Bobby Brown, while Brown and groupmate Johnny Gill and the rest of New Edition have just signed a new entertainment deal with CAA. However, eighteen years ago, Sweat, Gill, and the late great Gerald Levert reunited for a second LSG project. Welcome to this week’s edition of Second Listen Sunday, LSG 2.
The Supergroup is nothing new in music, and nearly every genre has had a supergroup. In 1997, LSG burst onto the scene, which included R&B artists Gerald Levert, Keith Sweat, and Johnny Gill. The group’s name “LSG” comes from the first letter in the last name of each artist (Levert, Sweat, Gill). LSG’s first self-titled 1997 album was a Platinum success off the strength of the single “My Body.” However, six years later, the trio returned with LSG 2, which arrived in stores on July 28, 2003.
Initially, with the announcement of the group’s sophomore disc, I had mixed thoughts. New Edition, whom Johnny Gill was a member of, had just signed a deal with Bad Boy at the end of 2002, and I figured this side project would delay the NE CD. Meanwhile, Sweat and Levert had both just released albums in the fall of 2002 to little fanfare. Finally, for reasons unknown, there was no tour that supported the first project that I can recall, and I felt that was a huge missed opportunity. Nevertheless, at age 22, I picked up the album and ended up finding some gems.
LSG2‘s first single was the Loon-assisted “Just Friends,” which found the group sampling Whoduni’s 1985 classic Hip Hop bop, “Friends.” Gill opens the song with a mature bravado while Levert handles the second verse and Sweat is on the bridge. Loon’s verse isn’t that memorable, but given his popularity, I understand why he was featured.
LSG’S debut featured collabs with Hip Hop artists such as The Lox, LL Cool J, and Jermaine Dupri. However, suppose you’re expecting more up-tempo material? In that case, you may be a bit upset, as the only dance floor cut on the album is “Just Friends.” LSG2 features no additional A-List guests, which may hinder some listeners for the album.
Wide Open finds the group working with Gerald’s nephew Sean Levert, who shows some talent as an MC. Producer Mike City contributes the solid album cut “Play with Fire.” Still, a verse from an MC like Mos Def or Common would have elevated the song even more. Furthermore, “What About Me” comes off as an outtake from a Chitin Circuit play.
LSG does deviate from their first album, where there was an actual mix of fast and slow songs. On the contrary, though, I prefer ballads and slow jams, so LSG2 was right up my alley. An immensely talented songwriter in his own right, Gerald Levert’s pen game is terrific here. “Shake Down” is co-written with Joe Little of The Rude Boys, while Steve Russell of Troop laces the group with “Fa Free.” Levert’s longtime collaborator Edwin “Tony” Nicholas provides “Yesterday” and “Can’t Get over You.” While both songs are textbook “baby take me back” songs, the vocals are so smooth I will allow it.
Unlike a singer we will not name, LSG can set a mood without going into vulgarity with its lyrics. Things get sensual on “All I Know,” which features Sweat on the first verse. The album closes out with “Cry & Make Love,” a solid closer that recalls The O’Jays, “Cry Together.”
The gentlemen who make up LSG were all friends before the first album, so a joint project was inevitable. Outside of die-hard fans, LSG2 has but been forgotten and is rarely mentioned. However, if you are a fan of Grown man R&B, check the album out.
Initial Listen Grade at age 22: B
Relisten Grade at age 40: B
LSG2 is available on all streaming platforms