You Got Me Feenin’: K-Ci and JoJo ….Come Clean

The reality TV gods have brought me Christmas in October.  K-Ci and JoJo are the latest in the series of washed up musicians to foray into the annals of recovery docu-dramas with their show K-Ci and JoJo…Come Clean.  Tiny, Tony, Tasia, and Teeny watch your back because I am convinced if given the opportunity K-Ci and JoJo will launch the urban reality TV aesthetic, also popularized by Frankie and Neffeteria and the bourghetto housewives of Atlanta, into the stratosphere.

Imagine filming your live wire, drug dependent, functional alcoholic uncles (that no one talks about now that we made out of the hood) over the course of thirty days as they battle to break their addiction and you get Come Clean.  Watching K-Ci and JoJo is like sitting down to a family meal with that familiar dysfunctional cousin who you love, but are forced to hide your purse from whenever they do show up for Sunday dinner.   It is this dynamic that makes the show bittersweet. You watch K-Ci and JoJo battle to become relevant again and you wonder how an act positioned for phenomenal future success could come so undone.

K-Ci and JoJo do not look well and though they have never been the most handsome men, now they are battered bruised and simply look weary of the world.  The alcohol, change in fortune,  hard living, easy access to women and drugs have left then in a bad way. As a proud member of the damn near thirty and over set, I can easily recall the days of lore when K-Ci and JoJo Hailey were relevant musicians, with a promising future and even a Grammy nomination under their belt.  I can equally recall the hey day of that mad band that was Jodeci and how they filled my  young still adolescent mind with promises of the show, the after party, and yes the hotel—yes Mr. Dalvin I will marry you.  Jodeci did to R&B what napalm did to Vietnam; they blew boy next door acts like New Edition—sans Bobby of course and the ever popular Boyz II Men out of the water.

Jodeci’s music was raw sex mixed with gospel inspired cadences that highlighted the vocal talents and lush harmonies of the brothers Hailey.  The group also had eye candy in the form of the ever so sexy then, not quite so sexy now Mr. Dalvin and Donald “Devante” DeGrate.  The New Jack Swing production, nasty stage shows, and urban fashion sense made Bobby Brown seem almost tame.  I can still remember seeing Jodeci live at the first concert I ever attended.  They opened for Hammer…yes that Hammer… and Boyz II Men.  My mother was outraged with K-Ci’s gyrating pelvis and penchant for cursing out the audience and now I can understand why.  In retrospect, the fellas were obviously inebriated at that show, which was still very early on in their careers.  I can still remember how security fought in vain to keep K-Ci from launching  into the arms of screaming girls that filled U.S. Air Arena that night.

Now we find 50% of the world worn band seeking help to cure a long-standing addiction to alcohol and drugs.  The story arc is not unlike that of popular rock bands of the 80’s bands who partied hard and paid the price.  What’s remarkable is how far the group has fallen, as Jo-Jo revealed his surprise that the record business was no longer giving million dollar contracts apart from platinum selling artists.  The show teams them with a number of support resources including a pastor, medical doctor, personal trainer A.J. Johnson, of House Party and Baby Boy fame, and some man that claims to be the “&” in K-Ci & JoJo.

This show is at once inspiring, sad, and frankly hilarious.  K-Ci’s out-sized ego and quick fire temper finds him rendering one liners such as last night’s gem, “I hate the a person that throw a rock and hide his hand”, as stated when indicating his distaste with a former colleagues assessment of their future prospects for a new record deal.  K-Ci and JoJo also do a pretty good job butchering the English language, flying off the handle, and pontificating on their general discontent with the present situation.  Yet the most redeeming moment for the group comes when K-Ci let’s loose a few bars of “Love You For Life”, dedicating them to A.J. Johnson, who remains the least bit fazed.  He still got it!

These men have been through a lot. Raised in rural North Carolina they became exposed to the allure of women, drugs and other trappings of fame, while still very young and the lifestyle soon evolved to an unmanageable addiction.  However, I am encouraged by Charlie Wilson’s story, who lived a similar life of excess while at the top of his fame.  He started over championed by his wife at the record labels and encouraged by a stricter faith and devotion to God.  K-Ci and JoJo could find a similar niche performing for adult contemporary audiences,who have been looking for a Jodeci reunion for years now.

Suffice it to say, that I am looking forward to future episodes of this show.  I’m also convinced these talented brothers can once again br a dynamic duo and force to be reckoned with in R&B.  With God-given vocal prowess and earnest pangs of soul in their vocals, the boys embody the Al Greene and Otis Redding era of R&B. Good soul music requires pain, but let’s hope the beauty of living a clean, and sober life can empower the duo just as easily.

So did you watch? I’m curious to know your thoughts.

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