“The life expectancy for an artist is four years,” states founder, Michael Keith. For 25 years, the legendary R&B group known as 112 has been an exception to the rule. Taking airwaves and recording industry by storm in 1996 as a quartet with original members Michael “Mike” Keith, Daron Jones, Quinnes “Q” Parker, and Marvin “Slim” Scandrick, 112 has since found rebirth in the form of a duo, consisting solely of Slim and Mike, that is testament to their staying power.
90’s R&B University Podcast sat down with Slim and Mike to discuss a quarter-century of hits, the release of their new EP, rebranding 112, and how the Grammy Award-winning group keeps the torch of their musical legacy aflame.
From early beginnings as Forte, the high school friends built a buzz by claiming victory at local talent shows, performances at churches and schools around Atlanta. Catching the ear of Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs outside of popular Atlanta nightclub, Club 112, they changed their name and signed a deal to be the premiere male group on his three-years old Bad Boy Record label.
Mainstream success came rapidly with their 1996 debut single “Only You”, fueling the release of their eponymous debut album. Reaching double platinum, the young quartet was thrust into a fast-paced life of stardom.
Slim: “We had to adjust to it very quickly. We finished the album and went right on tour.”
Accepting nothing less than platinum-selling status, 112 subsequently released a string of singles (“Cupid”, “Anywhere”, “Peaches & Cream”, “U Already Know”) and albums (Room 112, Part III, Hot & Wet, Pleasure & Pain) that metalized their position as one of R&B’s iconic groups among groups they admired; New Edition, Jodeci, and Boyz II Men. The foursome earned a Grammy Award in 1998 for their featured performance on “I’ll Be Missing You’, the Puff Daddy and Faith Evans tribute to 2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, The Notorious B.I.G. While on hiatus after the success of Def Soul album Pleasure & Pain, solo projects were released by Slim (Love’s Crazy) and Mike (Michael Keith) before finally reuniting as a group.
Just one year after the release of comeback album, Q Mike Slim Daron, it was announced in 2018 that Daron Jones and Q. Parker had officially departed from 112. Pressing onward and tuning out naysayers, the group’s latest EP, 112 Forever: Slim & Mike, is a declaration of their new chapter as one another’s brother’s keeper. After claiming victory on this summer’s Verzuz battle against fellow R&B group, Jagged Edge, there was a surge in support from the 400K+ fans that tuned in. Recorded during the quarantine, the EP features executive production by newcomer Great Scott along with Ty Smartmouth and Young Marco, driven by first single “Spend It All” which crafts a sound that is contemporary while honoring the signature 112 sound.
Mike: “We put a team together of young, hungry, 112 disciples who wanted to make sure that we were represented the right way.”
The EP’s second single, “For Us” gives production nod to the late, Craig Mack’s “Flava In Your Ear”, with a stand on social injustice being a responsibility.
Mike: “We wanted to make sure that the world understood that 112 recognizes that we need to say something with the platform we have, it’s time that we stand up and speak about social change and how we need social change. It was our ode to feel the need to say something.”
With 25 million records sold worldwide, life lessons learned, and no signs of slowing down, 112 truly is forever.
Fans can purchase the physical disc of the 112 Forever: Slim & Mike EP as well as memorabilia on the band’s official website, 112Forever.com.
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