If Boyz II Men are portrayed as a clean-cut, wholesome R&B vocal group, then Jodeci’s wild, sexual, bad-boy image represents the other side of the coin. Made up of two sets of brothers, the group’s name is a consolidation of three members’ aliases:”JoJo” Hailey, Donald “DeVante Swing” DeGrate, and Cedric “K-Ci” Hailey; the group also includes Dalvin DeGrate. Natives of Charlotte , NC , all four members toured the South as young boys singing gospel music, even recording albums; both families belonged to the Pentecostal church, and the DeGrates’ father was a minister. The boys were able to hear each other’s gospel songs played on the radio, and eventually were introduced through girlfriends as teenagers. However, when they did meet, K-Ci was with a girl Dalvin had been dating, and a fight nearly broke out. The Hailey brothers and DeVante started hanging out together, partying and talking about making R&B records together, coming up with the name Jodeci at this time.
At age 16, DeVante ran away to Minneapolis to get a job in Prince’s organization, but was refused. He returned to Charlotte , where he wrote a song and recorded JoJo singing it. The two planned on going to New York to shop the demo around by themselves, but both K-Ciand Dalvin decided to tag along at the last minute. By the time they got to New York , they had demo recordings of 29 songs, which they brought to the offices of Uptown Entertainment. They were almost rejected, but rapper Heavy Doverheard the tape and talked Uptown president Andre Harrell into hearing the group. Harrell was impressed, and just like that, Jodeci signed a recording contract. In 1991, they recorded Forever My Lady, which featured the gold single “Come and Talk to Me” and went on to sell over three million copies. A minor feud resulted over the band’s follow-up album, Diary of a Mad Band; Jodeci, unhappy with their treatment by Uptown, flirted with the idea of leaving for Dr. Dre’s Death Row Records, which resulted in almost zero promotion for their new album. It didn’t matter much, as Diary went platinum.
Jodeci’s third album, The Show, the After Party, the Hotel, was released in the summer of 1995. DeVante also was afforded the opportunity to work with Al Green, one of his idols, writing and producing the song “Could This Be the Love.”