An upcoming BET biopic may be the impetus for New Edition to end the 12-year (and counting) wait for a new album.
The group’s Johnny Gill tells Billboard that plans are already afoot for some new New Edition material to accompany the film in 2017, most likely the vocal group’s first album since 2004’s One Love. “I have put aside some songs already for New Edition,” Gill reports. “We’re gonna try to have the album ready to go by the time the movie’s out, by 2017 when the movie drops. I’m making plans to start the recording process with that as well.” The film is currently being cast, with some roles already determined but not announced yet.
“I was just disappointed that Denzel [Washington] wasn’t available to play me,” Gill says with a laugh. “Actually, I just want somebody who can capture the essence of me, and I think that’s important for all of us in the movie. That’s going to be the most important thing in telling this story is that these actor capture the essence of who we are. We’re hands-on involved as well. We have to spend time with them. They’re going to spend time with us for a week or two and kinda just get to know us and our personalities and get insight and stuff like that. It’s going to be interesting when it all comes together, but everybody’s gonna get a chance to tell and see what our story’s like. We can’t wait.”
Gill has actually added to New Edition’s group repertoire with “This One’s for Me and You,” the latest single from his late 2014 solo album Game Changer. The rest of the group is featured on the track — at its own insistence after Gill played the song for them during tour rehearsals that year.
“We were midway through finishing up and mixing, and I was laying the guys some of the songs from the album,” Gill recalls. “I just happened to play them this song, and the guys looked at me and it was real quiet, and the guys looked at me and it was like, ‘Come on, man.’ I was like, ‘What?’ They’re like, ‘This is a New Edition song that we need to be part of.’ And I’m like, ‘Are y’all serious?’ And they were like, ‘Man, let us get up on this song,’ and I was like, ‘Absolutely!’ So I went in and recorded them and it became a New Edition song, and I was so happy and grateful and blessed because I’ve never had New Edition on one of my albums. So this was special to me and such a blessing and such a pleasant surprise that they wanted to be here and wanted to be part of it and support this project.”
Gill is currently touring to promote Game Changer, which he expects to yield at least one more single this year. He’ll also be on the road later in the year, after a New Edition summer tour that will be announced soon. He’s also got his eye on this year’s presidential campaign, currently leaning towards Hillary Clinton. “If I had my way I’d like to see Obama in for another four years,” Gill says, “but since that’s not possible I’ve honestly gotta go with Hillary. I think teamwork makes dreamwork, and I truly believe having a husband who has also run this country, there’s no reason to think it’s beyond possible that he wouldn’t be part of it… to help run the country and lend his hand to be a part of trying to continue to get us and this country back on track.”
And, like many, Gill is shaking his head at Donald Trump’s sustained success to this point. “I’m beyond baffled,” he says. “When I look at him, I think of Jim Jones, who made those people take the Kool-Aid and they took it ’cause he told them to. Anybody who’s willing to drink the Kool-Aid that [Trump] is serving up, you’re just in idiot. They’re just following him, and he has that kind of power. But listen — I’m a gamblin’ man… and I’m here to tell you that Mr. Trump being president, that’s never gonna happen. I’ll put my house on it and everything else that I own on that. You can mark my words.”