For a change of pace, male R&B quartet 112 opted not to record in its native Atlanta or in New York. Instead, the foursome trekked to Nashville.<br CLEAR="NONE"/>

For a change of pace, male R&B quartet 112 opted not to record in its native Atlanta or in New York. Instead, the foursome trekked to Nashville.

"We went there to get away from the record label, our families, friends, girlfriends, and managers," explains member Mike Keith. "We needed that space to become more unified as a group and to really create. We just recorded and chilled."

The end result can be heard when the group's third Bad Boy/Arista album, "Part III," is released March 20. And unlike its earlier albums -- 1996's "112" and 1998's "Room 112" -- "Part III" was mostly written and produced by the foursome, with additional producers including Tim and Bob (Sisqo's "Thong Song") and Bad Boy's in-house man Mario Winans.

Now in their early 20s, the 112 members -- who also include Quinees Parker (aka Q), Marvin Scandrick III (aka Slim), and Daron Jones -- are school friends who grew up singing in church and were discovered in a local Atlanta club called 112.

Since the release of its first album, the group has focused on crossing over from its R&B base to pop. "It's very fickle in R&B," notes Slim. "You're only as hot as your last record. But in rock and alternative, the fans are more loyal. You have 60-year-old Rolling Stones fans. That group can still come out right now and sell out an arena."

"As an R&B act, what we have to show is our ability as singers, songwriters, and performers/dancers," adds Keith. "We want to corner the same market as 'N Sync, the Backstreet Boys, and Christina Aguilera. What we're trying to do now is broaden our horizons. We've gone as far as we can go as an urban group without taking it to the next level, so now we need that push to cross us over to pop."

With that in mind, setup for the 112 project began last November. That's when the vinyl version of first single "It's Over Now" was serviced to mix shows and clubs. Additional mixes of "It's Over Now" feature Bad Boy artists Shyne and G-Dep. "This first step helps separate them from other R&B groups," says Bad Boy VP of marketing Tracey Waples, "because their uptempo songs have mix-show sensibilities."

CD promos were then serviced to radio, followed by a video/photo shoot staged in Atlanta. Behind-the-scenes footage was shot for the group's Web site. A second single, "Peaches & Cream," was sent to radio Feb. 6.

A radio promo tour is scheduled for 13 cities, beginning March 2. And the group's presence will be strong on the Internet through E-greetings and online chats, as well as Webcasts of in-stores, album release parties, and TV performances.