112 will forever go down in history as one of the most iconic R&B groups to ever do it. Originating as a quartet from Atlanta and signing with Diddy’s famed Bad Boy Records, the band went on to create timeless hits such as “Only You,” “Anywhere,” Peaches & Cream,” and even won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance with “I’ll Be Missing You” alongside Sean Combs and Faith Evans.
Fast forward to 2020, Marvin “Slim” Scandrick and Michael “Mike” Keith are keeping 112’s legacy alive. Beyond continuing to exercise their biggest passion which is their love for music, both recording artists are on a quest to accomplish their ultimate dreams of getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. During quarantine on Memorial Day, the guys went head to head in a nostalgia-filled VERZUZ against Jagged Edge — reminding music-lovers all around the world of their unmatched talents.
AllHipHop: What did you learn from Puff while being signed to Bad Boy?
Mike: That’s a great question. We learned that hard work really does pay off. While you’re walking, somebody else is running. That’s a philosophy Puff had with us. Don’t let the next R&B group sing better than you guys, perform better than you guys, have better interviews than you guys. Always be better, that’s the mindframe Puff had and it carried over into 112.
Slim: Strive to be the best you can be, push yourself. Even when you think you’re #1, strive harder. Almost like the Mamba mentality.
AllHipHop: “Only You” featuring Big & Mase was a moment in time, bring us back to that recording session.
Slim: We wrote that song 5 times, only to go back to the first way we wrote it. We wanted that record to be the best it could be. Of course we had the original but when we got out with the remix, Stevie J did the production. Being in the studio when Big put his rhyme on there, it was instant. We heard the words and it was perfect, wow. What Mase put on there was the sprinkling on top. Definitely a momentous occasion, can’t forget that. History.
AllHipHop: Did you think it would be what it was?
Mike: Honestly, no. We wanted so badly to be known as R&B-singing crooners. When Puff came in with the idea of doing hip-hop and R&B, we said “nah bro, that’s going to diminish what we got going on. We’re real singers, it’s going to take away from the true artistry.” Puff said “yeah, I hear you. Slim go in there and sing this R&B section real quick.” He already knew. He already had the template and the blueprint of what he wanted 112 to be and that’s going to be really special. Nobody else since 112 has been able to give you consistently, uptempo R&B records like 112. We originated that sound. We don’t really speak on the fact that that’s a sound us, along with Puff, originated and generated. We’re extremely proud.
AllHipHop: How was filming the video in Times Square?
Slim: The energy was amazing, the song was already #1 at the time. Out there in Times Square, you’re seeing things in real time. The fans reacting with all the energy and the lights. You have to understand, we’re 4 guys from Atlanta, Georgia. You come into New York and have that feel, the lights and the people were perfect. A great mixture of the culture going on in New York, mixed with the music we’re bringing. That’s the reason why we can pat ourselves on the back and say 112 are the kings of Hip Hop and R&B as far as groups are concerned.
AllHipHop: Any untold Biggie stories?
Mike: This is when we realized how dope Big really was. One day in the studio at Diddy’s house, we had a session in the SSL room. Somebody told the intern “yo Big in the other room, he wanna holler at y’all.” Not really on anything, to say what up. We went into the room and from here on up, you couldn’t see anybody because it had so much smoke. At the time, 112 didn’t partake in anything like that. Weren’t doing drugs, weren’t drinking. We went in and saw Big, he said “what up?” Jay Z and Charli Baltimore sitting over in the corner. Everybody’s enthralled with being in the room with BIG.
Big’s sitting in the room smoking, he’s not moving. A couple hours had passed, he’s listening to all these stories. We’re in there talking, Junior M.A.F.I.A., Lil’ Cease. All of a sudden he gets up and tells the engineer he’s ready. Dude went in the booth, you know that song “I Got A Story To Tell”? The line “my 112, CD blast, I was past. She came twice, I came last.” That originated in the room, that’s how ill he is. He didn’t write anything down. Big’s the originator of not writing s### down. All of “I Got A Story To Tell” is true. Amazing to watch a genius at work, really dope.
Slim: A Keyser Söze moment, from Usual Suspects.
AllHipHop: What was it like touring with the late great Whitney Houston?
Slim: Whitney Houston was very cool, one of the coolest divas you’ll ever know. Somebody in your family that once you get to know them, wow. She opened up her arms and really treated us like family. We always go into that story of why she canceled so many shows. [laughs] I still feel horrible about that. Man, it was some hot people. So hot. The fact you can have somebody as huge as Whitney Houston, be on the road time in and time out and see how she worked, man she could sing the songs flawless. You go see this one concert, oh my gosh she killed it. We saw her do it over and over and over, it was nothing. When she finished, she’s like “okay let’s go, next city.” It was amazing.
AllHipHop: You guys have endless hits. What about the “Peaches & Cream” days?
Mike: Fun fact for you. “Peaches & Cream” was the last song that we did on Part III, because we couldn’t come with any concept. At that point, we’d already written about love, being in love, out of love, being in the club in love. We’re burnt out. “This is the album, it is what it is. Let’s go be Platinum and call it a day.” But Puff was insistent on this track. Shout out to Mario Winans for producing the record, we had the beat for 3 months before we actually wrote to it. Puff flew us to New York, we got with Poo Bear.
AllHipHop: Poo Bear with Justin Bieber? No way.
Mike: Poo Bear got his start with 112. He’s in New York with us, we’re in the room again. One of the former members was ordering food, the last thing he said was “let me get the peach cobbler.” Everybody perked up. It went from peach cobbler to since we’re from Georgia. Georgia peach. “Peaches & Cream” was the end result. Another fun fact, Puff didn’t like “Peaches & Cream” at first. He didn’t like it. He said “y’all sure? Is that hot?” I snapped, so you know who’s the nutcase in the group.
Slim: We kicked him out of his own studio.
Mike: I said “man I’m tired of this s###!” He left outta the room, he told Slim “this s### better be hot.” [laughs] You were his favorite Slim, own it. Once we wrote “Peaches & Cream,” we said “allow us to finish the song first. After that if it’s not hot, we’ll let someone else write it.” The next day, he called us “I need y’all at Bad Boy right now.” We’re in the studio like “oh s###, we about to get kicked off the label and sent home to Atlanta. Puffy opened the door, he’s playing “Peaches & Cream” as loud as he possibly could. Getting on everyone’s nerves, playing back to back to back. ”This is y’all record taking ya’ll to the next level,” and he wasn’t wrong.
AllHipHop: Do you guys joke about how he didn’t believe in it at first?
Mike: Listen, we joke about everything. He’ll remind us about how many times we doubted him. “Y’all remember that time y’all said you didn’t want to go ahead? Y’all welcome.” This is the one time we’re in his face, we knew we had a hit on our hands. He had to agree with us in the end.
AllHipHop: How was the VERZUZ battle against Jagged Edge?
Mike: Oh, it was great on our end.
Slim: Amazing, it’s great when you win. The great thing is we’re both groups from Atlanta, we’ve always been friends even before we had deals. It felt great for the fans around the world to pick us to be the elite of our era. It was more of a celebration of both of our careers. We’ve contributed a lot to the R&B game, especially as far as groups are concerned. Sitting down and playing the songs like “you remember this?” Going back was absolutely amazing. It’s great that 112 was on the winning side.
AllHipHop: What inspires you guys to create music today?
Slim: With COVID-19 poppin’, we didn’t have too many other things to do. Us being touring artists, we’d be out there doing tours most of the year. We’re sitting there like “one thing we gotta do is stay in people’s mouth, gotta stay relevant.” People wanted to hear something new and fresh. We’re going through our transition from 4 to 2, the perfect opportunity for Mike and myself to put music together. We got together ourselves and said “you sure you really want to do this?” Because we’re not one of those groups that put out 30 albums, then throw it on the wall. If we’re doing something, we’re going to make a movie out.
It took us a year because us getting with each other, I can imagine how K-Ci & JoJo felt after being in Jodeci. Now it’s the 2 brothers, same thing with us. Sitting here, trying to figure out what our sound’s going to be. We kept it very vintage. We’re giving them the same 112 sound everybody’s used to, at the same time of course we can adapt to what’s going on now. The beat’s going on right now, but the content has to sound reminiscent to the 112 sound that everybody’s used to. Got into the studio, got with producers.
Mike: We did it for the fans. We’re cool with what our legacy was but with it being Slim and myself now, there’s a lot of naysayers. Let’s keep it real, a lot of people didn’t believe we had the acumen to make a project that was worthy to be stamped 112. We wanted to prove to them, but also prove to ourselves we’re able to still put out quality music. We accomplished that with this EP, we got with a great group of writers and producers and it’s 112 Forever.
AllHipHop: Talk about remixing “Spend It All,” I see the stripper pole in the visual.
Mike: If you know anything about 112, we like our stripper poles. This “Spend It All” remix was the brainchild of our DJ, Lucky Calhoun. We did an interview with Fat Man Scoop. He heard the “Spend It All” single and said “let me send y’all some adlibs. If y’all do a remix, I want to get on it because this record’s hot.” We heard the adlibs he sent us and needed to put Fat Man Scoop on this remix. Luckily our DJ knew the 69 Boyz and said “we need to go into the bass aspect of this track, let’s flip it all the way up.” It made the most sense. You got the R&B side, but want to have that Hip Hop side as well. The remix put it all together. 112’s known for remixes. “Only You” being a remix, we had a remix for “Anywhere,” “Peaches & Cream,” “Dance With Me.” Being part of the Bad Boy family, if we do a remix we got to shake it up.
AllHipHop: Where was the video shot at?
Mike: Shot in Atlanta in a club called Kiss Ultra Lounge, the best scene is when our homeboy started yeeking. Yeek is a term in Atlanta, a certain dance we’ve done for the last 50 years. To have everybody yeek in the video was something we wanted to convey to the world. A lot of people to this day still don’t realize that 112’s born and raised from Atlanta. Anytime we get an opportunity to showcase where we’re from, that’s what we like to do. From music to politics, because we done messed around and saved America. [laughs] Turning the state blue and what not, leave it up to Georgia. We’re really proud of our state, proud of our city. We want to represent.
AllHipHop: How important is it to treat girls like queens?
Slim: Oh my goodness, that’s how we were raised. We’re all raised by queens, our mothers are our queens. Us being Southern gentlemen, it’s a part of our culture. In our lives, our queens, our mothers, our grandmothers are very instrumental in how we are today. We teach our kids to do the same thing, it’s very important. Everything starts with a woman, it’d be your best bet. I know we’re R&B but trust coming from us, you want to keep that queen happy. When she’s happy, everybody’s the happiest. Trust.
AllHipHop: One thing you want fans to get from 112 Forever?
Mike: We want people to understand 112’s a brand that can’t be denied. Be it 4 members, be it 2 members, be it one, be it 50, our brand and the amount of the work we put into the brand made it long-lasting. Made it career worthy and Award-winning. 112 Forever, we’re not going to stop. We’re going to continue moving forward and giving you greatness. Our ultimate goal is to get that star on the Walk of Fame. Get those MTV awards, those BET awards, keep racking up these awards. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, we want it all because we put in the work and we deserve it.
AllHipHop: Why do you feel you deserve a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?
Mike: Because we’re awesome, that’s why. We definitely put in the work. Not comparing careers to anybody else but if you look at what others who’ve been nominated and made it to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, who’ve gotten a Hollywood star, 112’s career is right up there with them. We’ve been a mainstay in R&B music for the last 24 years. The life expectancy of an artist is 4 years, that’s 2 albums. For us to have thrived in the music industry for 24 years, that alone is worthy of that star on that Walk of Fame.
Slim: Exactly. Don’t give us that “oh okay, well the group broke up.” So did The Eagles, The Eagles were inducted into the Hall of Fame. That’s crazy because I love them.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let us know?
Mike: Thank you so very much for 24 years, almost 25 years, of support for 112 and the 112 brand. A lot of times artists assume your fanbase is buying your records just because, but 112 we put the work in to make people believe to where they feel good in the product. It’s like Apple almost, you already know when an iPhone comes out you’re going to get a great product. Once you hear the music, you’re getting a great product. That came with years of grinding with us. 112 Forever out now, 112forever.com for the CD. We’re selling merch: masks, neck gaiters, t-shirts, hoodies, footies. My little girl’s in the “For Us’ video, she’s making her debut. To this day, I can’t tell her nothing. She’s the real star of that video.