This lineup!!! If you are an 80’s baby or just simply lived, existed, or partied through the 90’s, then you know ALLLL of these acts on the Baltimore 90’s Block Party bill moved you in some way, shape or form. 90’s music will forever be the G.O.A.T., and this is not up for debate.
I can’t lie, New Jack Swing is my favorite sub-genre of music, and I truly believe that Teddy Riley is one of the greatest music producers of all time, so when G-Squared Events announced that they were bringing a concert to the Royal Farms Arena starring Guy featuring T.R., I was cancelling ALL pre-arranged and tentative plans for November 4th and finding a way to make my presence felt in the building.
This was not my first show that I’ve attended that G-Squared has put together. Last year they organized the Baltimore Spring Fest, which also took place at the RoFo Arena, and from that experience, I knew that this would be a show worth people’s money…not only in the quality of the slated acts, but the quality of the event overall. There have been several occasions where I’ve gone to a mixed artist variety concert, and the show has come up short, much due in part to the concert promoter’s lack of customer service. Luckily those problems have not come up either time G-Squared has been in Bmore, so please let this be a strong kudos to you.
For a show to be considered a “block party”, you would say it needs to have that true block party feel right? Well Baltimore’s own party starters April Watts and DJ Kenny K from Magic 95.9 not only kicked the show off, but kept the flow of the party going in between the sets when April blessed the mic while Kenny K had the crowd up on their feet. When you looked out into the packed out crowd of the arena, the views of concert goers of all ages in the middle of the floor singing and dancing couldn’t help but to give you flashbacks of some good old outside festivities. Granted we were taken on a musical journey all around the world, which also traversed time, a party in Bmore is just not a party until someone drops the Baltimore Club Music. The moment that Bmore bass blared over the loud speakers, you saw another side of people as women grabbed the bottom of their skirts to drop it low and the fellas danced along with them. It’s the simple times in partying like this that we miss….but let’s NOT forget that this is all happening at a concert.
The first act of the night (who came out promptly at 8 PM on the dot) was the 90’s R&B group NEXT. It’s been a while since anyone has heard from RL, T-Low and Tweet since their untimely departure from the music industry in the early 2000’s after the release of their third studio album “The Next Episode”, but please don’t let that absence cause you to give the group any amount of side eyes, because it was more than obvious in their performance that have not missed a beat. Kicking their set off with their #1 hit “Too Close“, a song which all but nobody could forget, the R&B trio sang and danced their way through a 25 minute set.
Each member had a chance to showcase their own individual talents during their time on the stage and with all egos still in checked, brought it back together to close out their show. Before they exited the stage, they made sure to let everyone know that they are back together to stay, and to look forward to a new album soon.
Moving on with the show, next to take the stage was 112, who rose to stardom in 1996 as Bad Boy Records’ own version of New Edition, which is quite a compliment. Q, Mike, Slim & Daron are firmly cemented as vets in this music thing, now celebrating 21 years as a group. With this much seniority under their belt, they were able to bring the hits that kept them successful well into the new millennium. Dressed in all fresh, crisp white and hitting those steps that were synonymous with their music videos from during the MTV days, we all were treated to memories that took us back to that time in life when things were a little less complicated. You couldn’t help but to notice massive amounts of women standing up, waving their arms in the air while singing along word for word to their 1997 hit “Cupid“. It’s no denying that their back catalog is among the strongest of any male R&B group, but please don’t get it twisted, these fellas didn’t show up just to be thought of as a “throwback memory”, no sir, because they came with new music in tote!
2017 brought forth the release of their sixth album entitled “Q, Mike, Slim & Daron“. Everyone is familiar with who 112 was, but it was now time to get put on point with who 112 IS in the present and beyond. It would be a disservice for any touring act with new music to not bring some of the hotness to their crowds, so this was the case when the broke out to perform their newest single “Dangerous Games“. Before they took their final bow, the music for the Puff Daddy lead “I’ll Be Missing You” played on the sound system and eventually ushered them off the stage.
The DMV’s own “Bachelor“, Ginuwine himself was next in the lineup. Before he even stepped foot on the stage, he commanded for all the women to come to the front of the stage and get a little up close and personal. Trust and believe, the Baltimore women played no games as the empty aisles filled up with what looked like a sea of people heading up to the front of the house.
That Same ole G was up to his usual business of wrapping the women around his fingers by drawing them in with his trademark smooth, seductive voice and stage cutting dance moves. His performances of “Stingy“, “So Anxious“, “In Those Jeans” and “Pony” probably helped the fellas out in the audience who came with their ladies to the show, by getting them “warmed up”.
Three musical brothers who have been rather absent in the past few years are those Atlanta boys Jagged Edge, but in the case of the 90’s Block Party, all but one of them were totally present, and in tip top form. When you don’t see or hear from a group for many years, you tend to question if they “still have it”…well for anyone sitting within ears reach of the Royal Farms Arena, that question can be answered with a simply stated yes!
The trio performed all of their biggest hit singles “Let’s Get Married“, “Promise“, “Where the Party At“, as well as a few other album tracks, and even songs that they penned for other artists. For the J.E. fans out there, the very special cherry on top of this very live performance was the announcement that they are working on new music which should be out sometime in 2018, so again, R&B music is NOT dead.
“Jam…..WHOOOO Jam…Teddy Jam For Me Yea!”
I can’t speak for anybody else, but this reunion of Guy (comprised of Teddy Riley, Aaron Hall & Damion Hall) is what I truly came to the show for. Yes, I am a 90’s raised kid who identifies with all of the music from every other artist on this show, BUT my heart honestly lies with New Jack Swing. If I was forced to only listen to one music genre ever in life, hands down it would be New Jack Swing, and I’d be totally fine with it. Teddy Riley is the undisputed king of the sub-genre that literally kept everybody getting their cardio style dance workout on the floor at any party circa late 80’s – early 90’s.
“I Like“, “Groove Me” and “Let’s Chill” are all classic R&B. Live instrumentation, dancers and undeniable talent. That is Teddy Riley and Aaron Hall. I don’t think the crowd sat down during one minute of their set.
We know that Guy was great as a collective unit, but let me add that I think that they were even BETTER as individual acts. Aaron Hall had a chance to bring us a few selections from his solo career, most notably the hit single “I Miss You“. I overheard one attendee standing in front of me say “I don’t care what they sing, as long as Aaron sings “I Miss You” so that I can go home happy. Well ma’am, I guess that your night was made.
No party, whether a block party or house party is made until those essential early 90’s party songs came on, you know, the ones that were mostly either penned or produced by Teddy Riley. Since the maestro was in the house and this was HIS hour, it was go time! In a solo sub-set which marked in around 7 minutes in length, it was just T.R., a spotlight, and his infamous keyboard giving life to some of his biggest hits. Consuming only a fraction of his body of work in one setting was not only eye opening, but also made me proud to have grown up during a time when music really was music. Everyone else who witnessed this legend standing before them apparently agreed that this was some of the best music of all time.
After Teddy finished “jamming”, Aaron and Damion rejoined him to finish out the group set before bidding adieu, but before anyone left the stage, Mr. Riley brought the remaining members of the group Hi-Five on stage to sing a snippet of “I Like the Way (The Kissing Game)“.
This show is currently traveling the country well into 2018, so if you’re into some feel good tunes and want to check out of reality for a little bit, I suggest that you find out where it’s going to be and buy a ticket, because you won’t regret it.
Check out the gallery of photos taken by our photographer Arturo Holmes.