When Naturi Naughton walked out of 3LW, jaws dropped. How could a group with platinum status, a hot single and an album due to drop in October not be able to put aside its differences for the good of the team? Easy — the little women were just following history.
From En Vogue to Xscape to Dream to 3LW, it’s the same story. They were all playing sold-out shows, selling records and getting radio and video love, but none of the success mattered: Being with the same set of homies day in and day out had grown unbearable for the women in the groups, and they just wanted out.
While many times male collectives stay together too long, outlasting their fan appeal, girl groups seem to fall apart at the seams just when they’re hitting their peak. Many of the fly gals from the ’90s — including femme fatale acts Zhane, Xscape, Total, En Vogue, Jade, Brownstone, Destiny’s Child and 702 — have either closed up shop or made personnel changes. Besides 3LW, the new millennium has already seen a change in Dream’s lineup, after only one album. So what’s the problem?
“No one is teaching … work ethics and how important it is to get along,” said Angelo Ellerbee, owner of publicity firm Double Xxposure and a music industry vet who has worked with everyone from DMX to girl groups like SWV. “Everyone is at the stupid box thinking glamour, diamonds, cars, money. We cannot think that. We must think about the work ethic: ‘What is it going to take to win?'”
“What I think happens with girl groups is you get caught up in a marriage,” 702’s Lemisha said. “It’s tiresome. It’s not an easy business at all, it’s cutthroat. Sometimes you need time for yourself. As women we need space, we need to get along with our men and get to know them a little bit and live. I think that’s where the problem lies.”
Former Naughty by Nature member Kay Gee, who introduced the now-defunct duo Zhane to the world in 1994 and produced their hits “Hey Mr. DJ” and “Groove Thang,” agrees.
“I don’t want to sound biased or like I’m stereotyping females, but it’s practically written; it’s a female thing,” assessed the producer, who is once again giving the girl group thing a go with his new trio Tha Rayne. “Girls need space. I can’t really explain it. Guys can sit down when you have problems or they could argue, even fight and sit down the next day and be cool and be over it. But if girls get into it one time, it’s over with. They just hold it against each other. There is no next-day sit-down. If it gets to a certain level, it’s blown out and it’s over with. With guys, you can go to the limit and push it, then laugh five or 10 minutes later.”
Next: ‘She looks a little sexier than me, I want my shirt off the shoulder!’ …
— by Shaheem Reid, with additional reporting by Joe D’Angelo