Often times I wonder what ever happened to that feel good music that I indulged into back in the 90s. What happened to the soulful lyrics and melodic harmonies that would make a thug sing to his girl to make her heart melt to puddles? As I was doing all this wondering, I started thinking about my high school years when I used to go to the dances at C.E. Murray High School. The DJ would play Silk, Next, R.Kelly, Something For The People, Shai, Boyz II Men just to name a few. Then I instantly flashback to the year 1998 the year I heard and fell in love with the group Public Announcement and their hit single “Body Bumpin’ (Yippie Yi Yo)”. I remember watching and dancing to this song at talent shows. We were bucking our legs as if we were straddled riding a horse, whipping the air in front and behind our bodies as if we were hold imaginary reigns. This made me think of real music and how I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to interview the lead singer of Public Announcement Feloney Davis. Fel took me down memory lane from humble beginnings of Da Group Public Announcement.
National recording artist R. Kelly was trying to strike it out as an solo artist during the early 1990s when groups were huge. He had to compete with groups of the New Jack Swing era such as Guy, Troop, and Bell Biv Defoe, R.Kelly needed some guys to dance and provide back up vocals. Earl Robinson, Andre Boykins, and Rickey Webster auditioned for R.Kelly in a men’s restroom of a club and formed the group Rush. In 1992 the group came out with their first album “Born To The 90s” and was later coined as R. Kelly and Public Announcement. “Born To The 90s” spun off hit singles such as “Dedicated”, “Honey Love”, “Slow Dance”, and “She’s Got That Vibe”. “Honey Love” and “Slow Dance” reached #1 on the R&B chart. After a huge successful tour with Public Announcement in 1993, R. Kelly departed from the group to begin his solo career with his release album “12 Play”. After R. Kelly departure from Public Announcement, original member Earl Robinson recruited Chicago natives Feloney Davis, Glenn Wright, and Euclid Gray as new members of Public Announcement in 1996, and Feloney Davis took over as the lead singer. In 1997 Public Announcement signed a record deal with A&M Records and began working on their solo and Sophomore debut album “All Work, No Play”. In 1998, Public Announcement had a single to reach top #4 and #5 for the first time without R. Kelly titled “Body Bumpin’ (Yippie Yi Yo)”. Having one song hitting the Billboard Charts, the album was a top twenty success on the R&B/Hip-Hop charts.
Contiguously after touring Euclid Gray departed from the group to pursue a gospel career and inevitably the group was dropped from A&M. Euclid Gray was later replaced with Chicago native Ace Watkins, and Public Announcement was signed to RCA Records and began working on their next album “Don’t Hold Back” in 1999. In 2000 “Don’t Hold Back” had singles that made Billboards Top 100, Mamacita, John Doe, and Man Ain’t Supposed to Cry. After being dropped from RCA Watkins left the group to pursue a solo career in 2004, Ohio native Mar-k replaced Watkins making him the youngest of the group and the only one in the group that is not from Chicago. Public Announcement released their fourth album “When The Smoke Clears” in 2005. This time the group released this album under their own label Boss Entertainment through Fontana Music/Universal Records. After brief dabbling with solo interests, Feloney, Glenn, Ace, and Mar-K reunited and started touring in 2014 to promote their new single “Such A Lady”. Feloney told me that they write, produce, and arrange their music, and of course they incorporate the help of other producers and artists. Da Group Public Announcement have a long term goal to be more business oriented and to create an artist development production. Also there was talk of having a reality show.
I asked Feloney Davis some questions about how music is perceived and what image do he want Da Public Announcement to convey to people who listens to their music. Fel said that “Music today lack substance. Today technology has taken over. Technology such as the internet is a good way to share your music, but the technology used to alter the artists’ sound make their music lack substance. When you go to some of these artists concert, they sound nothing like the record they recorded. When we do a show, we will sound just like the record”. Feloney also mentioned that music changed when Record Executives no longer take chances on artists (such as Clive Davis took a chance on Whitney Houston), now everything is based on what looks hip.
After talking to Fel he gave me a sample of their new single “Such A Lady”, and I could feel electric currents going up and down my spine as the lyrics that was matched with his melodic voice tantalized my aural senses. Hearing him reminded me of the feel good music that my peers and I loved and respected.
Body Bumpin’ (Yippie Yi Yo)
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