A Classic Revisited: “MotownPhilly” by Boyz II Men
When I first heard “MotownPhilly”, I knew the voices singing it were gonna be huge. My adolescent self felt it in my gut. The song was just too damn perfect for them not to. They were four Black Men who could saaaaang, not sing, saaaaaaaang. They were clean cut, dressed fly AF and just full of positive fun filled vibes that drew you right on in. They were Boyz II Men and this was their debut single.
A bonus was that they also had the official co-sign from Michael Bivins of New Edition AND BBD fame, so when a heavyweight like that is in your corner telling the world you got the goods, your odds of winning look pretty nice.
If the music from “MotownPhilly” didn’t pull you in right away, their harmonies did. Act like you was wasn’t out here “Dum dum dum dah dop!” ing your heart out when that beat broke down. Whether your vocal abilities are official or not, that part ALWAYS gets sung with all your heart and soul. Oh, and you know you turn right on into Wanya Morris when the “Back in school we used to dream about this every dayyyyy…” part came on (hands clenched in tight fists close to your chest as you sing that line optional…).
This song comes on, you do the running man, you fight the urge to put on an argyle cardigan and a fitted, and you sing at the top of your lungs from beginning to end. That’s just the way it goes, don’t fight it.
“MotownPhilly” was released in 1991, setting the tone for the Cooleyhighharmony album from Boyz II Men. The song was co-wrote by the aforementioned Michael Bivens and features a rap from the legend. The song is produced by another legend of R&B, Dallas Austin. Austin, Nathan Morris and Shawn Stockman all have writing credits on the classic song.
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