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Blackstreet Biography

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Blackstreet In-depth Biography

One of the top R&B} vocal groups of the '90s, Blackstreet} was founded by singer, producer, and new jack swing} pioneer Teddy Riley} after the breakup of his seminal trio Guy}. Riley} had taken a few years to concentrate on his booming production career, which saw him working with Wreckx-N-Effect}, Bobby Brown}, Michael Jackson}, and SWV}, among others. His itch to get back in the performing arena resulted in the formation of Blackstreet} in 1994, which included singers Chauncey "Black" Hannibal}, Levi Little}, and Joe Stonestreet} in addition to Riley}. Stonestreet} was replaced by Dave Hollister} prior to the recording of the group's self-titled debut album, which appeared in the spring of 1994. On the strength of "Before I Let You Go,"} a Top Five hit on the R&B} charts, Blackstreet} was a platinum-selling hit even without much crossover exposure. Two more singles from the album, "Booti Call"} and "Joy,"} were minor hits as well. Hollister} subsequently left for a solo career and Little} exited as well; their replacements were Mark Middleton} and Eric Williams}. The new additions helped set the stage for Blackstreet}'s pop} breakthrough with 1996's Another Level}. More specifically, it was the inescapable smash single "No Diggity,"} which featured special guest Dr. Dre}, that put them over the top. "No Diggity"} reigned for four weeks on top of the pop} charts and won a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal by a Duo or Group; it also pushed sales of Another Level} past the four million mark. The follow-up single, "Don't Leave Me,"} was a decent-sized hit in 1997, and the group later made a guest appearance on Jay-Z}'s "The City Is Mine"} and teamed with Mya} and Mase} for the hit "Take Me There"} from the Rugrats} soundtrack. More personnel shifts had ensued following their blockbuster success, however: Middleton} left for his own solo career and was replaced by Terrell Phillips}. Blackstreet}'s third album, Finally}, was released in early 1999, and though it contained "Take Me There"} (and a bevy of guest cameos), it spent only one week in the Top Ten. The group's commercial momentum had slowed in the intervening years, and Finally} struggled to go gold. Tensions within the group and with their label, Interscope}, ran high, and a rift between Hannibal} and Riley} spelled the end of the road for Blackstreet} before the year was even out. Reports surfaced in early 2000 that Hannibal} had sued Riley} for two million dollars, but after Riley} filed a countersuit, Hannibal} denied that he had ever taken legal action and the matter was dropped. Riley} recorded a reunion album with Guy} in 2000, and subsequently began working on material for his first solo record. However, he had second thoughts about disbanding Blackstreet}, and patched things up with Hannibal}; Middleton} and Williams} returned to restore the Another Level} lineup, and Riley}'s solo project became a Blackstreet} reunion. The resulting album, Level II}, was released in early 2003. ~ Steve Huey, All Music Guide

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