Veteran R&B act Boyz II Men has left Universal and signed a new five-album deal with Arista Records, where it will reteam with label head Antonio "L.A." Reid, who worked as a songwriter and produc

Veteran R&B act Boyz II Men has left Universal and signed a new five-album deal with Arista Records, where it will reteam with label head Antonio "L.A." Reid, who worked as a songwriter and producer with the group on its hugely successful albums "Cooleyhighharmony" and "II."

Speaking to Billboard.com this afternoon, founding member Nathan Morris said the group's past associations with Reid were a big factor in the decision to sign with Arista.

"After being released by Universal, we pretty much had our choice to go anywhere we wanted to go," Morris said. "[Reid] is someone who can look at what we want to do from a musical aspect as an artist and not just as a record company exec. He has been an artist before and he understands artist situations, artist mentality. So that was a major sticking point on why we went with Arista." Reid echoed Morris' sentiments in a statement, saying, "signing Boyz II Men is a dream come true."

Member Shawn Stockman added that the group will return to the studio in mid-September and hopes to have an album ready for release by mid-2002. "We hope that with this new situation, we're able to go in and create something that's incredible -- something that the whole world will fall in love with," he said.

Boyz II Men's commercial success in the '90s was rivaled by few outfits, as the group racked up U.S. sales of more than 20 million copies. The act's 1991 debut "Cooleyhighharmony" sold nearly 7 million copies in the U.S., according to SoundScan, and remained on the chart for more than two years. It spawned the record-breaking single "End of the Road," which stayed at No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100 for 13 weeks, surpassing the longevity record set by Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel."

The follow-up album, "II," debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and included the No. 1 singles "I'll Make Love to You" and "On Bended Knee." It has sold 8.5 million units to date. The group's fifth set, "Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya," debuted last year at No. 4 on The Billboard 200, but only spent three weeks on the chart. It has sold just 686,000 copies thus far.

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