“Straight up,” Kevontay, D’Smoove, Jay-R, J’son and Gavin, the five members of 3rd Storee declare, “Our album is very versatile. We set a lot of different moods.” The group’s sizzling, new Edmonds Records Group/Def Soul album is an exciting showcase for the L.A.-based team: with a strong cast of hit-making producers including Rodney Jerkins, Nokio (of Dru Hill fame), Pajam and Presidential Campaign among others, 3rd Storee delivers an album sure to please, with tracks that range from infectious cuts like “Superstar” to the inspirational ballad, “Don’t Lose Hope”.
Destined to gain an immediate response is the groove-flavored Jerkins-produced “Get With Me,” a catchy, instant radio-friendly track that, along with many of the other cuts on the album, promises to catapult 3rd Storee to the forefront of young pop and urban listeners. The group’s versatility is evident throughout the album: party tunes like “All Aboard” demonstrate the fun side of the group, says Jay-R: “Tunes like that and “Clap Your Hands” which we co-wrote with Nokio show our ‘up’ side”.
The group’s vocal skills can be heard to full effect on “I’m Sorry” (featured on the “Rush Hour 2” soundtrack), a heartfelt ballad that reflects an experience to which all five members can bear witness, says Gavin: “It’s an incredible, emotional song that everyone can relate to because we’ve all had to apologize at some time in our lives.” Fellow group member Kevontay admits that he even found himself using the song’s first verse in a personal situation: “I was arguing with a girl on the phone and the lyrics popped into my head. She went silent – and I realized that the song was real.”
That kind of everyday reality is evident on other songs on the album like the timely “Don’t Lose Hope” which “deals with going through the tragedies and tribulations of life,” says Jay-R. “It’s important for us to sing songs that are truthful,” adds D’Smoove. “That particular tune is something that anyone who has lost someone can relate to.” The tune “If You Don’t Want Me To” (produced by Quincy Jones protégé Ian Prince) has the same stamp of realness, says J’son: “It’s a soulful, touching song that we think is going to appeal to a wide audience.”
Considering the group’s line up, it’s no doubt, 3rd Storee has all the necessary ingredients to make an impact on the music scene. D’Smoove brings a rap and hip-hop influence to 3rd Storee. Kevontay has the cool, yet sexy flavor sure to find favor with female fans. J’son recalls that his first exposure to The Jackson Five was a major influence so it’s no surprise that the group considers him ‘the dancing machine’. Both Jay-R and Gavin say that gospel music provided them with their vocal foundation. “We each have something unique that we bring to the group,” notes Kevontay. “The combination we have is rare. Some groups can only do one thing but we’re not limited.”
3rd Storee began recording their all-important debut album last year. Among the sessions conducted were those done with Dru Hill’s Nokio: “He taught us so much in the studio,” says Kevontay. “He was like a big brother, tough but determined to bring out the best in us.” Working with Rodney Jerkins was another highlight: “He was easy-going and we had a great time with him,” says D’Smoove. The result of all their hard work says Jay-R, “is an album that has a positive vibe with music that we hope will have a universal appeal.”
Originally formed in South-Central Los Angeles in 1997, 3rd Storee (initially named as a young group that was the natural successor to The Jacksons and New Edition) got its first taste of recognition after being signed to Edmonds Entertainment by renowned executive Tracey Edmonds. Almost immediately after the release of their first single, 3rd Storee began to tour with pop superstar Brittney Spears: “It was an amazing experience for all of us,” says Jay-R. “We never thought we’d be on a tour like that so soon and we really saw what it took to be artists.”
The group made such a strong impression that they were asked to join ‘NSYNC on a national tour during which they performed night after night for audiences of over 50,000 young music fans. The group then made several trips to Europe – appearing on shows with, among others, Dru Hill – giving members of 3rd Storee another perspective on what it took to succeed. “It was great to be over there in places like Germany and the U.K. and to see audiences reacting to us,” says D’Smoove. “We all learned so much.” Upon their return, working with manager Jacqueline McQuarn of Aztec Entertainment, original members Kevontay, D’Smoove and Jay-R were joined by Angeleno and longtime friend J’son, and Kansas City, Missouri native Gavin.
With their hit-filled ERG/Def Soul album ready to hit the streets, all five members of 3rd Storee agree: “For those who have stuck with us through the years… you haven’t seen anything yet! And for those who are discovering us for the first time… Look out – we’re here and we’re ready!”