Equally rooted in gospel, soul, and hip-hop, 112 were the first and most successful urban vocal group to emerge from Sean “Puffy” Combs’ Bad Boy Records roster. Not only was the group’s eponymous 1996 debut popular, but the group could be heard on records by such Bad Boy artists as Mase and the Notorious B.I.G. Unlike most artists on Bad Boy, 112’s image was clean, pure, and wholesome (initially, at least), which helped the group cross over to a more mainstream audience.
The four members of 112 — Marvin, Daron, Q, and Mike — met each other while attending high school in Atlanta, Georgia. The quartet began to play talent shows at school and local churches, eventually gaining the attention of Courtney Sills and Kevin Wales, who soon became the group’s managers. Sills and Wales brought 112 to the attention of Sean “Puffy” Combs at Bad Boy Records. Combs signed on as the executive producer of 112’s eponymous debut album, which featured songs the group co-wrote with such professional songwriters as Stevie J, Wayna Morris of Boyz II Men, and Combs himself. “Only You,” the group’s debut single, was released in the summer of 1996 and climbed to number three on the R&B charts, peaking at number 13 on the pop charts. 112 was released in late 1996, and it steadily worked its way to gold status as the group’s second single, “Come Seem Me,” reached number 15 on the R&B charts. Room 112 followed in 1998 and Part III was issued three years later. 112 all but left Bad Boy for 2003’s Hot & Wet, and the group cemented its new relationship with Def Soul on 2005’s Pleasure & Pain. The union didn’t last long and 112 parted ways with Def Jam soon after the album’s release. Over the following years, the individual members engaged in their own solo pursuits and did not regroup until 2010. They returned to the studio and toured for a stint in 2012, but a new album would not arrive until 2017. That sixth official studio effort, Q Mike Slim Daron, was 112’s first in 12 years and featured the singles “Strawberry” and “Dangerous Games.” ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine