112 Returns 'Hot & Wet'

Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

The journey 112 went on to reach its fourth album, "Hot & Wet," saw the Atlanta-based group come full-circle from Bad Boy to, well, Bad Boy. Bad Boy/Def Jam, to be exact.

Members Mike, Slim, Q and Daron made news this past year after leaving Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' Bad Boy Entertainment for Def Jam.

But Bad Boy moved from Arista to Def Jam parent Universal, and the group and Combs have ironed out their differences. In fact, 112 and Combs worked on several tracks together for the Sept. 23 release.

So what went down?

Mike says the group had no intentions of leaving Bad Boy. "We just wanted our contract changed. [We] signed our contracts at 15.

"We had a production company [K World's Music] that was also our management," Mike continues. "So a lot of people were getting a cut before we got ours, and then we had to split it four ways. We really weren't making any money, even though we regularly sold 2 million copies of each of our albums."

"In the end, Puffy had other obligations making sure Bad Boy was straight, and we had other obligations making sure 112 was straight. So it was just a business decision," Mike says.

"There's no bitterness," he adds. "It's a good working relationship. We did three joints with him and Stevie J, and he's featured on our second single and our intro. From that, people can understand we have no ill will toward him. It's still a love relationship."

Combs says 112 has "matured as songwriters, producers and A&R men, being able to step outside themselves, hear themselves and pick the right songs."

A self-contained unit thanks to principal producer Daron, the group has enjoyed a consistent run since debuting in '96, notching such hits as "Only You," "Cupid" and "Peaches & Cream."

"Hot & Wet" stays true to 112's style of soulfully strong R&B, but there is one notable exception. First single "Na, Na, Na, Na" is a distinctly reggae-flavored outing featuring dancehall artist Supercat. Though it is the group's first foray into reggae, the move was not calculated.

"It was just a track I was working on, and it started coming out that way," Daron says. "We decided to go with the vibe. Initially we decided to get Sean Paul on there. This was before he really blew up. Then we thought it would be cool to get Supercat on there instead."

Dismissing the fact that it has been a while between 112 albums, Combs notes, "They've come up with something that's urgent and viable. Their fans are waiting for them. Plus there aren't really a lot of male R&B groups out there now. This will be a refreshing way to fill that void."

Excerpted from the Aug. 30, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.

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