Boy Bands and Brotherhood

Eric C. “EB” Butler

StreetCred. That rite of passage every young man seeks.  Some find it in membership in fraternities (All the NUPES say YO!).

Others find it in sports, gangs and other affiliations. However, let’s think back to the 80’s and 90’s when the Boy Bands were significant for many young men.  You remember them- New Kids On The Block, Menudo (took you way back), B2K, HTown, NSYNC, Boyz II Men, Jodeci, The Jackson Five and yes wait…Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph and Johnnie…New Edition.  These groups showed us that bonding and brotherhood was significant in many ways.

Just the thought of what your band’s name would be, who would be in our group and what would be the title of our first hit?  While we didn’t have the proper funding for our attire, we all had our own Member’s Only jackets. That was wardrobe enough for now.  There was no trap music at the time.  No one wanted to be King of Crunk.  Everything just was so simple, and you’d better have your dance routine down and on point when it was your time.

For those of us that made it off to college and had the opportunity to join a fraternity, there was no difference as far as the bonding moments were concerned.  The band was still full of young boys- we had to bond, we had to sing and GOD forbid that one of us forgot our step (or dropped a kane) during a performance.  Lights out.  Literally.

Now, there is a shift

No longer do we honor brotherhood, bonding and the formation of boy bands. It seems to be individualized and all about “me.”  How many likes do I have? How many page views do I have?  And if anyone is a member of a boy band, it is only a matter of time before he goes solo.  Isn’t that what Lucious Lyons talks about on Empire?

What the boy bands brought to the hood was an ideology that if you weren’t a standout in sports or academics, that maybe just maybe, by singing in the choir at church and school in my three or four part harmony, you might have a chance to make it Big.  Hollywood Big.  Tour Bus Big. Maybe you never had a chance to be the fifth person of Dru Hill, but made it to college and had a chance to become a member of one of the four male Greek lettered organizations.  Maybe you wanted to show your Dean of Pledges that you could lead song practice, or if all else failed be the next StepMaster or KaneMaster- still wanting to be the star of the show

Now, those days seem to be gone.  Can we get the boy bands back?  Can we show the kids what it would be like to harmonize again? I guess first you would have to drop some mustard on the beat or have Mike Will Made It on the track for anyone to listen to nowadays.  With the popularity of individualism it would be difficult to pick three or four guys for a boy band.  Let me see, Drake, Gucci Mane, T.I. and J. Cole.  Nevermind.

If you have those old CDs from Columbia House from back in the day, and are still dodging Columbia House for that penny for those 10 free CDs, I urge you to sit with your children.  Pull them out. Get your air mic ready and routine down pat.  Make sure they put their phones down so that you are not a viral sensation.  Show the kids that you still have it.   Remember the feeling it exuded for you to be one to the members of the boy bands.  If that doesn’t work, go to the car and get your kane or put on Atomic Dog.  Either way, they all meant Brotherhood.


Eric C. Butler

Eric C. “EB” Butler is an entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, husband, father and former captain in the U.S. Army.

One Comment

  1. Interesting view and way BEFORE your time, there were the male groups, most of whom were adults, when they became popular. The “doowop” groups were all male except for a few exceptions; The Platters and The Miracles. Ask your parents to share their recordings or google doowop groups. They could all sing too.?

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