112 Talks ‘Q Mike Slim Daron’ Album & Love Lessons
It’s been 12 years since 112 released a proper album with Pain & Pleasure. Within that period, lines have blurred in R&B with rappers crooning melodies and singers spitting bars yet the craving for soulful, lyrical slow jams never waned.
Just this year alone, male R&B groups have experienced a resurgence following BET’s The New Edition Story, the three-part miniseries that scored 4.4 million viewers for the network with its January premiere. Other groups like Boyz II Men and Jagged Edge (who 112 recently collaborated with) have also dropped new records this year while DAY26 is plotting their return.
But for 112, this sixth studio album — aptly titled Q Mike Slim Daron after each member of the Atlanta-based group — isn’t just a comeback party but an affirmation of their talents as individuals and a quartet. A week after the project’s release and, all four members hopped on the phone with TIDAL to reflect on their 21-year career and self-revelations about relationships.
What made Q Mike Slim Daron the perfect title for this album?
Daron: I feel it was the perfect title because this album is very personal to us as men and just identifying ourselves as individuals. We’re a group first, and the whole concept of 112 was to find four guys who could actually sing ‘cause you had a lot of groups [back then] where one or two guys could sing. Just driving that point home that we’re individuals. We’ve been off the scene for a while and a lot of people were saying, ‘Did you guys break up? Did you guys take a hiatus? What really happened?’ We hadn’t released anything official in a while but we had been touring throughout that time and now we’re just happy to be back, and it’s a very personal album to us. Even in the way that our fans have demanded it, we get the opportunity to reconnect with them.
It’s been 12 years since 112’s last album, Pleasure & Pain. What kind of life experiences did you each go through that shaped this album?
Mike: Whew. I don’t know if we got time. [Laughs] I think one of the things we wanted to focus on was who we are as individuals because for the last 20 years, we have been unified as this group within Bad Boy. No detriment and nothing derogatory towards Bad Boy or anything like that, but you kind of lose the individuality when you deal with a conglomerate and a monster as big as Bad Boy was so we wanted to find out as individuals who we were as musicians. A lot of solo projects happened between that 12-year span. We always gon’ be tied to each other, but as musicians, I wanted to know that I could stand on my own two feet without having three other guys hold me up. I think for me, that was one of the major things I had to experience within that 12-year span. In my opinion, it just made for a better R&B group.
What did 112 keep consistent on this album in comparison to other projects?
Q: The beauty about 112 is we all have unique gifts and talents that we bring to the mix of 112. We all have specific roles that we play that become a main ingredient to the success of the group. We are fans of music. We’re not oblivious to what’s going on in today’s world of R&B. We embrace it all, but the foundation of 112 is always going to be a lyrical angle, how melodic we are, how we’re able to interchange the different lead vocalists as well as the harmony with our background.
One of the main things that we wanted to do for this album was keep the foundation and what everyone has grown to love and supported for the last 21 years over five albums [while] infusing some of the ingredients of what today’s industry sounds like, what a 2017 R&B record sounds like. I think with the 808s and the syncopation of how they are attacking lead vocals, even going back and sampling older, classics in the R&B genre. We just chose to sample our own song [“Cupid”]. It’s just what Q, Mike, Slim and Daron in the 2017 version of 112 sounds like. It’s the perfect blend of yesterday and today.
Is there a specific song from the album that resonates personally?
Daron: I think one of my favorite songs on the album is “Residue.” It has a personal connection as well because it talks about being in relationships and kind of sweeping things under the rug to the point where after it gets swept up under the rug for so long, you have to see it as residue . At the end of the song, [it's like] everything comes to an end and the residue is there no longer, so I think we can all kind of relate to that personally in our relationships. That’s one of my favorite songs personally, and I think it’s one of the most vocally comparable songs on the album.
Mike: One of my favorite songs is “1’s For Ya.” I just really love strip clubs. [Laughs]
Slim: I pick “Wanna Be” ‘cause I like records that pretty much assure a woman. Being around women, you have to let them know exactly where they stand. You have to remind them over and over again, and I like that type of talk, so that’s why “Wanna Be” is one of my favorite tracks.
Q: One of my favorites would be “Simple & Plain.” If anybody knows the 112 story, you know that we have a very, very strong and deep gospel influence. We all come from the church, and that song allows us to bring in that soulful gospel connection that we have, but it’s also a simple love song that’s basically saying I can say everything from swimming in the deepest ocean, climbing the highest mountain and calling you my cherie amour and all of that kind of stuff but when it all boils down to it, I just want to keep it simple and plain and just say that I love you. 112’s reputation is we speak to women, and a lot of times we are the voice of a lot of men who can’t necessarily put their words together. This is definitely a song that a man can just put on, and it’ll speak for him just like Slim’s favorite, “Wanna Be.”
Whose idea was it to collaborate with Jagged Edge?
Mike: It was one of the managers who initiated the whole conversation about doing a record with Jagged Edge. We jumped at the chance to work with these guys because in our travels, we realized it was a line drawn between the two groups. It was either you were a Jagged Edge fan or you were a 112 fan. It didn’t really make a lot of sense to us because we were all singing R&B, a manual for love, life and relationships. We felt like the smartest move was for us to come together and do a record to just number one, squash all the quote-unquote rumors about there being any kind of beef between us and two, just get back to doing what we do best, which is making good music, and this record basically does that and then some. It only enhances both groups’ cache as far as the fanbases are concerned. I’m glad that we did it.
You’ve spent your whole career the past two decades singing about relationships but what have you each learned about yourself as a partner?
Daron: I can say in my relationships, I’ve really learned to be more patient and tolerant. I’ve learned to be just what people would term agreeable. I’ve really learned how to agree to disagree without it having to be a conflict. Before I matured and got older, if I disagree with something, especially in the relationship, that was it, there was a conflict. I’ve learned that just because you don’t agree with somebody doesn’t mean it always has to come to a place of conflict. Patience lies within it as well.
Slim: I think what I’ve probably learned about myself is a lot of times, people do the same thing, like if they’re in a relationship or a situation very similar, it didn’t work out right then they on to the next situation and they already got their guards up. As I start getting older, I just wipe the slate clean. I kind of like to lead by example, so if I come in with a smooth type of feel and I’m giving a person a chance, I let ‘em know that I believe in you. It’s love. It reciprocates.
Mike: I learned how to listen because I realize that I’m not always right, so that definitely helps as far as relationships with your significant other and with 112. I also learned to be vulnerable. For a man, that’s really hard to admit but you have to have a certain vulnerability and know that you’re not invincible. You need that significant other in order to enhance yourself because otherwise you’re gonna be stuck in neutral, and it’s gonna be static, thinking that you know everything and the world revolves around you so I’ve learned over the years to listen because I’m not always right and to be vulnerable. It’s OK to be vulnerable.
Q: Communication and being expressive. I want to piggyback a little bit off of what Mike said. As men, we tend to be closed and very internal, and it’s very rare that we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, expose ourselves or to be super transparent. What I’ve learned in my older age, being married for 15 years, communication and being able to express yourself is a major component to maintaining a healthy relationship. One of the biggest relationships that we are in is the relationship with each other so all of the components that we all mentioned on this phone call, we also have to practice that with each other as brothers and as part of a unit. A lot of times, we do have to be listeners to each other, we do have to be expressive and communicative. We do have to be loyal to each other, we have to agree to disagree because there’s four of us. I just think in our older age and as we have matured and grown up, we learned to just deal with relationships better.
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