We recently caught up with the legendary 112 for an interview via Zoom. During our conversation, we discussed the release of their new EP “Forever”, Slim & Mike carrying on the 112 brand, maintaining the group’s legacy while evolving its sound, creating music with now just two members, their upcoming album, and much more.
112 (Mike): It was challenging for us at first. Of course we were hearing the naysayers and the people that didn’t believe we were capable of putting an album together. So Slim and I made a vow to each other if we were going to do it, we’d do it the way we would normally do a 112 record. When you say EP, usually people give you half assed material and throw it at you. That’s not 112’s standard. It’s always been a super high bar and we took it up a whole nother notch. I told Slim if we’re going to do an album, we put that bar up here with this EP! *Laughs* The album we’re talking about doing will have to be up there or better. We made a vow we would not have ass and just mail an EP in. We wanted to make sure the sound was on par with 112, the harmonies was on par with 112, the subject matter was on par with 112, and the overall vibe is something reminiscent of what you remember but in today’s music scene. The process was dope. We got with one producer, Great Scott, he nailed it. The music and the sound, he was on a whole nother page when it came to the music. I really don’t want him to know all of this, he might get a big head and charge us extra! We got with Ty Smart Mouth, he is a die hard 112 fan and he made sure that he set the tone for us and also he would not allow us to go outside of 112. He’s such a 112 fan so when we tried to veer off into somewhere else, he’d tell us that’s not 112! He was right. He set the tone as far as the writing, then we got with Young Marco. He’s this prodigy, he’s like 22 years old. Our careers are 24 years old, and this dude is 22 years old! It was crazy. He wrote “Looking for Love”. We were looking for that island vibe and he knew where to go with that. This team we put together is just absolutely amazing. We’ve got some young, hungry 112 disciples and they just came and put this awesome project together with our vision. We wanted to make sure the world knew that regardless of how many members are in 112, you are still going to get that sound when you put that 112 stamp on it.
YouKnowIGotSoul: This project definitely felt like an extension of the 112 sound. We don’t always know what to expect from artists when they come out in 2020. We were especially going nuts when we heard “For Us”, that is anthem. Talk about that song.
112 (Slim): Mike and I just said if were going to do it, it had to have a vintage type feel. Usually when you reintroduce yourself, it’s like you have to give exactly what everybody is used to and then you add the little flairs. That’s the kind of look we were doing. “For Us”, because we were looking at the times we are in right now, and we are looking at everybody is protesting and out in the streets and voting, it’s a lot of things going on right now. We’re touching on a lot of subjects, we feel like music is like medicine. While you’re out there in the fight, you also need that medicine to pick you up. We wrote a record that we felt like definitely heals inside of the family. Of course, we did it our style. Hip hop and R&B, that’s what 112 represents. The track is not a coincidence, we did that on purpose. It had the same feel as “Flava In Ya Ear” remix. You hear that flavor, the hard beat. Even with the video you see is black and white. It just had to feel natural. We even had our family in. You see Mike’s daughter. We wanted her to be a part of that. My sons were behind the scenes, they were doing the lighting and stuff, that’s what they do. We just wanted that whole feel. The whole album was like that. This whole album felt like a party almost. We rebirthed ourselves. Mike and I said if we do it, we will do it big and have fun doing it. That’s exactly what it is, and the energy and spirit you feel with “For Us”.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Was it harder or easier to make this EP? Now are you have less members to create the music.
112 (Mike): I will say once we started the recording process, it took about three months. But we kept starting and stopping. The reason being was everything we started with from a year ago, we heard it and then we had some people like it, and then we wouldn’t like it. So it wasn’t the record. It sounded too far left for me, it sounded like we were trying to do too much as opposed to gradually allowing the world to grasp the fact that it’s only two members. The sound even though it’s still reminiscent of 112, it will sound different. That’s me doing a lot of those backgrounds. I was doing a lot of those in the original version of 112, but it’s more aggressive now. The music is more in your face as opposed to being more smooth. We wanted to maintain that. We also wanted to just take it up a notch. Not necessarily do what’s in 2020, but take it up a notch and evolve. Still maintaining that 112 sound and bringing it to 2020. That was the challenge for us. Every time we would do a record like from a year ago, we would ride with it, then it would be ehhhh. We’d let it go. Then we would go back again and get more records. People would submit records to us and we’d listen to them. It just evolved. We finally just started vibing with Great Scott. Once he brought in Ty and Young Marco, they kind of re-energized our way of thinking when it came to doing the music. We were thinking we had to be a new age 112. They said no, we just had to be us, but a better version of it. Still be us, but that’s where the “For Us” came into play. We took it back instead of going forward and made it reminiscent. The hard hitting east coast hitting soundtracks, the harmonies, Slim singing them leads and just giving you that presence and sound. Once we heard that, we knew we were on to something. That was really the reason why. We did not want to give our fans some bullshit! We didn’t want to give records that were just thrown out there just because it’s an EP. We don’t do that. Our legacy is up here. We finally found the sound that was good enough and we could evolve from there.
YouKnowIGotSoul: We absolutely love the fact that you even had an intro, and outro, and an interlude on here. That’s what really gave it the authentic 112 feel. You never get that on EP’s.
112 (Mike): Can I give you a fun fact? None of that almost made the EP! We almost didn’t do it. Then these young dudes, they came up and said we had to do those! They saw the potential as well. Even though we didn’t want to half ass the EP, we still wanted to save some stuff for the album. But they convinced us to do the intro, outro and interludes. They told us that was the 112 sound and what people were waiting to hear from us. It didn’t take us long to be convinced! That’s where that came from, but it almost didn’t make it! I’m glad it did.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about what it’s like now with upholding the 112 legacy and it just falling on your guys shoulders with two members now gone.
112 (Slim): At the end of the day, a close knit family is way better. The communication is way better. With this situation right here, everybody is on one accord. There is no ulterior motives, there is none of that. I love my brother Mike. I know my brother Mike loves me. I know that the crew that’s working together, we all love each other. It’s more than just a paycheck, we all want this 112 brand to achieve the same goal, to be inducted into the hall of fame and have the star on the walk of fame. When you say the best R&B male groups of this era, you can’t even have a conversation without saying 112. Period. So we were working towards that and why we wanted this type of a crew.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Do you guys still encounter those fans who can’t accept that the group has just Slim & Mike in it now?
112 (Mike): We don’t get a lot of questions about where the other members are, because I think after two and a half years, they know that the other members are not here anymore. It’s more like they’re making declarative statements that they wish we would get back together. It’s a lot of that. Sometimes you get some people asking where they are. That’s when we will respectfully let them know they made a decision to leave two years ago, and you have to respect it. We are not going to stop because they decided to go in a different direction. From the majority, people are just saying we still sound good, the EP sounds good. They are reminiscing on the old days. I totally get it. Nobody is more disappointed in what happened and how it went down than Slim and myself. We did everything that we could to prevent it from going down. At the end of the day, if the most high is telling you to go in a certain direction, who are we to tell you to go otherwise. We just have to accept it and we’d like for the populous to accept it as well. Change is inevitable, it always happens. I felt some kind of way initially when Jodeci broke up and it was K-Ci & JoJo. But eventually I got over it! *Laughs* The EP is a prime example of us being able to etch our names into a different stratosphere with this project. As long as we were holding onto the past accomplishments, people would always be able to attach the past to what you’re currently doing. People want to dissect all that went on in the past. We’ll never take away from what happened in the past. Those guys contributed what 112 is. You cannot take that away from them. We would never try to. This is 112 now. We would like for those same fans to allow us the opportunity to show you we are trustworthy and we can keep moving 112 forward. This EP is helping in that regard a lot. Now people are starting to accept, just like with K-Ci & JoJo when they came out with “All My Life”. *Laughs* So when they hear “For Us” they will know that’s 112 now. It’s slowly but surely, but we are still getting a lot of that stuff. We got it Verzuz, and with the EP coming out. Anytime you see Slim & myself in any major publications the questions will pop up. It used to bother me, but I get it. Really it’s a testament to how awesome the 112 brand really is. If people didn’t give a damn, they wouldn’t ask! I’m glad they are still talking about our asses! *Laughs* This version of 112 in my opinion, not just saying this, this is a much better version of 112. Only because we have a singular goal. Everybody that’s in the circle now has one goal, and that’s 112 moving forward. There’s no ulterior motives. We want to be the best and screw everything else. That’s where we are with it man. That’s why I can say with 100% certainty this is the best iteration of 112, even though we still hear the questions.
YouKnowIGotSoul: We’ve always felt like from the beginning, the songwriting ability of 112 is so underrated.
112 (Slim): You know what, that’s something we definitely love putting our hats on. In Verzuz, we didn’t get a chance to really highlight that. The great thing about 112 is the fact that you can’t put us in a box. When we look at ourselves, one of the groups we look up to is New Edition. You have a multi platinum brand that hosts multi platinum artists inside of it. They have a group that’s multi platinum inside the group. Same as Black Eyed Peas. We love those types of groups. Where sky is the limit. We can do whatever we want. For myself, it’s very personal because look at what 112 has accomplished. Inside of the brand we have accomplished a multi platinum brand that has written and produced multi platinum situations for other artists, and myself was a successful solo artist, and now Mike and myself are a successful duo as the same brand as 112. I’m glad I’m sharing this with Mike. There is a reason why we always stood next to each other. We were the closer ones in the group. We respect each other and I’m just so happy to actually be doing this with my brother.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What can we expect as far as a new full length 112 album?
112 (Mike): We had intentions of brainstorming in December and January. But with the positive feedback we are getting, we really want to ride this train as much as we possibly can. One of the things we did not want to do with this whole Covid thing was just let this EP fall by the wayside. We knew that it was some amazing music we had put together and amazing songs are on this EP. We want to push this as long as we possibly can. I honestly think realistically we will start brainstorming at the end of January or February. We still got a lot more music with this. “Exclusive” from what I understand may be the next single after “For Us”. We also have “Looking for Love” after that as well. We still have got a ways to go with this EP before we think about an album. We’re on the right path to an album knowing what to expect and do musically with the success of this EP now. From listening to people we know. It’s all analytics now. We are getting as much data as we can and putting this plan together to know when to come in with the album. The bar is set up here, we know the fans are going to expect greatness. No pressure! *Laughs* We are excited for the challenge. The worst thing you can do is tell us we can’t do something!