Jodeci Is Unbeatable In a Verzuz Battle: A Scientific Breakdown of Black Excellent Proportions

Illustration for article titled Jodeci Is Unbeatable In a Verzuz Battle: A Scientific Breakdown of Black Excellent Proportions
Screenshot: Jodeci “Freek’n U” Video

As is often the case after Verzuz “battles,” folks get to ruminating on potential matchups, etc. Also, I’m folks; I do this after every Verzuz. Last night’s love-fest featured Method Man and Redman, two staples of 90s era hip-hop, though Method Man has become quite the actor, and Redman is, well, still one of the most entertaining chaps to ever do it. Anyway, watching the show (I only saw some of it) reminded me of a realization I realized a few days ago while doing research for something entirely unrelated: Jodeci is literally unbeatable in a Verzuz battle.

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Go on ahead and marinate on that for a minute.

Now I have to add a caveat: I’m speaking of the prior Verzuz format when folks were really going head-to-head in attempts to come out on top. Now we mostly get love-and-share fests between artists who are contemporaries. It’s much more of cultural moment than it is battle for supremacy nowadays. But I think most of us still talk about matchups in the sense of who would actually win. I know I do. It is in this spirit that I came to the realization that I realized.

Before we get to the mathing and the science, let me tell you a little bit about how we got here. Also, I can hear you looking at me; trust me, I’m not wrong about this. I’ve spent copious amounts of time and research on this single solitary hypothesis. I could submit this to a high school science fair and win first through third prizes on academic rigor and game-changeability alone. Be clear, I’m speaking facts, not fiction. Chess, not checkers. Butter, not margarine.

So the other day, I was listening to Jodeci’s best album, Diary of A Mad Band, and particularly that run of the first six songs and how insanely good they are. I said to myself, “Panama, I don’t think anybody could top those six songs.” So then I started writing down Jodeci songs—I do this often; I carry a pen around just so I can write down Jodeci songs—and was like, “if I were to pick 20 songs for Jodeci to drop in a Verzuz battle, what would they be” As I easily got to 12 or 13 and then started including soundtrack songs, remakes, songs DeVanté Swing wrote and/or produced, and K-Ci and Jojo songs, I looked at the list and was like, “wow, this might be the most unbeatable list of songs ever! Who could actually come close to this level of jams?” And mind you, that doesn’t even include any songs off their forgettable last album, The Past, the Present, the Future. And it doesn’t include any of their uptempo jams on Forever My Lady or Diary of A Mad Band (which upon re-listening has cringeworthy sketch with and un-credited mock female radio host as the intro “You Got It”).

Here is the list I came up with of Jodeci songs that I think would feature (in no particular order; songs by other artists featuring Jodeci noted where necessary):

“Freek’n U”

“Come and Talk to Me” (Remix)

“Love U 4 Life”

“Feenin’”

“Cry For You”

“Stay”

“Lately”

“Forever My Lady”

“Get On Up”

“My Heart Belongs to U”

“What About Us?”

“Come and Talk to Me” (Original)

“Alone”

“Can U Get With It?” (Usher, written and produced by DeVanté Swing)

“How Do U Want It?” (2Pac featuring K-Ci & JoJo)

“Life” (K-Ci & JoJo)

“You Bring Me Up” (K-Ci & JoJo)

“All My Life” (K-Ci & JoJo)

“Part Time Lover” (H-Town, written and produced by DeVanté Swing)

“Love Ballad” (K-Ci & JoJo)

That right there is 20 straight heaters. That’s the science. That’s the evidence. Who in the hell could compete with that? What math is available that truly competes with that? (For the sake of this discussion, I’m using their male contemporaries; though there are no female groups that could test them either. Not even my beloved SWV or y’alls beloved En Vogue.)

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Boyz II Men? Nope, though they’re the most obvious contemporary of Jodeci. Boyz II Men probably has 10 or so songs that could compete, “End of The Road,” “I’ll Make Love to You,” “One Sweet Day,” “Let It Snow,” “Uhh Ahh,” “Please Don’t Go,” “Motownphilly,” “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” “On Bended Knee,” and maybe “Water Runs Dry.” And I honestly can only see “End of The Road” and anything off that Christmas Interpretations album winning. If they run “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” Jodeci would run “Lately” or “Love Ballad” and well, that ends that discussion. So it ain’t even real comp, but a very solid try.

Dru Hill? They don’t have nearly as many hits as we want to think they do. But “Thong Song” probably beats everything (to me) but “Freek’n U,” “Love U 4 Life,” or “Feenin’.” They would make it interesting because Dru Hill does have a murderer’s row of songs, but they also don’t have enough. I do think “In My Bed (Remix)“ gives “Come and Talk to Me (Remix)“ a run for it’s money and might take that one. Point is, I still think Jodeci is winning 75 percent of those head-to-head matchups, at least.

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New Edition? I’m not quite sure they’re even contemporaries, but for the sake of argument we can include them here. They might be the only one who could beat Jodeci 11-9, and that requires using each groups individual catalogs to the max. New Edition’s songs that guaranteed winners are, of course, “Can You Stand the Rain?” “Mr. Telephone Man,” (maybe), “If It Isn’t Love?” “Candy Girl,” “I’m Still In Love With You,” (maybe) and “You’re Not My Kind of Girl.” If you include the LITANY of hits of each Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill, Ralph Tresvant and B.B.D., then yes. They’re beating everybody. But if you institute SOMETHING that says you have to at least use say, 12 of your group songs then there’s no guarantee because really you’d need mostly Johnny and Bobby’s songs and there’s no guarantee Bobby is showing up anywhere, and last I read, Johnny and Ralph were on the outs with the rest of the group. So this is the most hypothetical win since you need the folks in the room AND there would need to be a rule about how much of each folks songs you can use individually, I think.

Nobody else even comes close as far as I can tell. But maybe I’m overselling. Maybe you all don’t think Jodeci killed the game as much as they did. But I think they did. And I think short of some amazing circumstances, there’s really nobody that can beat Jodeci. This is my story, this is my song.

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What say you?

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.

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Jodeci ain’t never met a shirt or jacket they wanted to button...