By Rashad D. Grove
(AllHipHop Features) During the early 2000’s, B2K was riding a wave of success as the most popular boy band in contemporary Black music. With their harmonious vocals and laser-sharp choreography, B2K was on the fast track to dominant the entertainment industry. With smash hits like "Uh Huh," "Gots Ta Be," "Bump, Bump, Bump" (featuring P. Diddy), and “Girlfriend,” playing to sold-out concerts across the globe, B2K was a force to be reckoned with. Capitalizing on their crossover appeal, B2K starred in their own feature film You Got Served, a cult classic that went on to gross over $46 million dollars at the box office.
But while at the zenith of their success, in January of 2004, amidst a cloud of controversy, Omari "Omarion" Grandberry, Jarell "J-Boog" Houston, Dreux "Lil' Fizz" Frederic, and De'Mario "Raz-B" Thornton, abruptly disbanded, leaving their loyal fan base in complete shock. In just over two years, B2K had fallen apart. The reasoning behind the split was allegedly due to wanting a change in management from Chris Stokes. Stokes had been long accused of sexually abusing members in the group. In December 2018, he again denied those allegations. On Instagram, Stokes said, "Negativity I will never play into. I never hurt any of B2K & Always had their best interest at heart including financially. I forgive any negative energy or tweets! God forgives and so do I. They back! Now stay positive in 2019 & Go get your tix! Enjoy them being back! Much love!I"
15 years after their initial breakup, B2K has reunited and are headlining the Millennium Tour which will hit cities all throughout the U.S beginning in March. This will be the first time the band has performed together in over 10 years. B2K will be accompanied by Mario, Ying Yang Twins, Lloyd, Pretty Ricky and Chingy.
I caught up Raz-B and we discussed the legacy of B2K, his successful rebrand in China, his producing and managing new artists, and the possibility of B2K releasing new music.
AllHipHop: Tell me how was it growing up in Cleveland, Ohio?
Raz-B: I was born in Cleveland but my mother moved to Oakland, California when I was about nine months. So, Oakland is actually where I’m from.
AllHipHop: As a child, did you always know that you wanted to be in the music business?
Raz-B: From doing talent shows with my brother and being from a musical family, I would say ever since I was 10 years old that I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life. I loved singing and dancing in front of a crowd from an earlier age.
Yeah man. Music has always been a part of my life since I could remember. My family was in the music business. Growing up watching Immature make it in the game was a big influence on me. My cousin, Chris Stokes managed Immature as well. I was a part of several groups before B2K got together so I was always focused on making it in music.
AllHipHop: How did you and the other members of B2K meet?
Raz-B: Me, Fizz, and Boog we already in a group called Melodic and then we met Omarion at Marques Houston’s 18th birthday party. We all knew that O was special. The way how he was dancing and singing, we all knew that he was the missing piece of the puzzle for the group.
AllHipHop: After the initial success of B2K, how did you handle everything that came your way at such a young age?
Yo it was crazy. But I must say that our team really helped us to stay grounded through everything. Don’t get me wrong, we did have some wild times being young and out on tour. But for the most part, we were taught to treat everything like a business. But at time it would get lit!
AllHipHop: In your estimation, what caused B2K to break up?
Raz-B: Really, a lot of misunderstanding and miscommunication. Me, Fizz, and Boog wanted to move in another direction with our management away from the Ultimate Group, ran by Chris Stokes. We had a different perspective on how our careers were going then Omarion at the time. So, the three of us decided that we would refuse to work as B2K until there was change in management.
Then the three of us were in Las Vegas and it came across the T.V. screen that Chris Stokes said because of internal issues, B2K was breaking up. They caught us by surprised.
AllHipHop: After the B2K, you did the unexpected and left to live in China. Ironically, Stephon Marbury retired from the NBA around the same time and moved to China and he is now an icon over there. What’s your take on the appreciation of black music and culture in China? Is it different from the U.S?
Raz-B: First of all, I lived in China for seven years. China is on fire! It has the fasting growing economy in the world and a very large population. I would say that I became a man in China. I even learned the language. In China, I learned who I was outside of the image and identity of B2K. I grew up as person in China. I started to produce and design clothes. It’s a great culture to be a part of.
China has a deep appreciation for art all the way around. They embraced me over there as family. They do love Black music and culture. From the moment I got over there, they supported me. That’s why I stayed so long. China is a second home to me.
AllHipHop: Who broke the ice when it came to getting you guys back together?
Raz-B: It was like all of us. We realized that there was some opportunities on the table and we decided to take advantage of them. Through everything we been through, we always had a special bond as brothers. We’re looking forward to getting back out there and performing for our fans after being away for so long.
AllHipHop: I was excited to hear that you guys are getting back together because there aren’t any R&B there's no groups anymore. Why do you think that's the case?
Raz-B: That’s a good question. There’s been a big void in R&B for the last few years. R&B groups have been on the decline for minute now. Hopefully, with our reunion we can help bring R&B groups back to the forefront.
AllHipHop: Are there any plans for the group to create new music or you just won't see how the tour goes?
Raz-B: Man, that’s a good question too. I think the guys just want to get our feet wet with the tour and then we’ll see what happens. If we would come to a place where we could record some new material, I would definitely be down with it.
AllHipHop: You made a full transition from a successful teen artist, an international personality, and now you’re developing your own artist such as Mordecai and Rumzellie. How do you feel about this aspect of the music?
Raz-B: Working with artists like Mordecai is very important to me in the next phase of my career. Mordecai is a very talented artist that I’m supporting. I want all yall to check out his single “Netflix and Chill.” In China, I was doing extremely well producing and developing artists. Rumzellie is crazy too. He sounds like no one out there. He has a unique sound that’s all his own**.** Make sure all yall check out Mordecai @mordecai_music and Rumzellie @rumzellie on all Social Media.
AllHipHop: My last question is one that everybody wants to know, I mean the real hardcore B2K fans would like to know this one. Is there any plans for a You Got Served sequel?
Raz-B: Haha! I don’t know about a You Got Served 2 but I will drop this on you. I’ve been in talks about creating the Boogaloo Kid. We’re working on that as we speak.
AllHipHop: Wait…………. Are you planning on starring in it?
Raz-B: I can’t get into all the details right now but just be on the lookout in the near future.