This week @Tash1216 goes deep into the story behind the male R&B group “II D Extreme.”
When the beautiful songstress @MonicaBrown – Official (Twitter) , tweeted “Now we’re listening to II D Extreme “Cry no more” who remembers that?? This thang was jammin too. Love that real music…YES” to her almost 800,000 followers back in March of this year, I had to pull up the song on youtube and reminisce. I love that song. It’s so soulful and paints a vivid picture of chivalry and how a REAL man will treat a woman if given the chance. While listening to the song, I remembered that the last time I’d caught up with D’Extra Wiley, the writer and producer of the song, he’d mentioned the trio was in talks of doing a reunion.
I kept that in mind when I began doing feature interviews for Gumbumper. So, I recently hit him up and asked how everything was going. He said that he, Randy and Jermaine were going to be in the studio the next couple of weeks. I immediately said, “We must do a feature on you!” That tweet from Monica wasn’t the only one I’d seen from fans wondering where the group was, what they had been up to and when they’d be coming back on the scene.
There were MANY more tweets and now I have the EXCLUSIVE scoop on II D Extreme just for you…
A “II D Extreme” REUNION?
My first question HAS to be: What took you so long?
Well, we took the time off to do other projects, I started another group immediately after II D called Mirror, and we were on the Roger Troutman Tribute CD. It featured artists like Snoop, the Alcoholiks, Kurupt and others. I also started working on a hot music project with my brothers and sisters (The Wileys), as well as writing and developing T.V. and Film projects with my partner of MG3 Entertainment, Marvin Gaye III. I also worked with Yamma Brown, who is a very smart and talented producer and the daughter of James Brown. More importantly, I took this time to go back to college and pursue my Bachelors of Science degree. My brother, Randy, has been working on his solo project, he has written and performed some beautiful well-crafted songs, and my brother, Jermaine, has recorded a hot gospel CD and he also started a label, so we all have been very blessed and busy!
“Up On The Roof”
D’Extra, I’m always seeing posts on Facebook and Twitter about Old School REAL R&B, and they list the song, “Cry No More,” and also mention missing R&B groups like II D Extreme. As the writer, producer and one of the singers of this song, how does that make you feel after all of these years?
Words can’t express the feeling I get when someone equates that song to particular moments or phases of their lives that was special, good or bad, and it is able to serve as a form of encouragement or remedy, either romantically or therapeutically, to their situation. See, when we started out in Washington D.C. all we wanted to do was to be able to show people what we were capable of doing and God allowed us that chance, we traveled the world, met wonderful fans, befriended many talented superstars and average people. We treated them all the same, but from the beginning I always wanted to touch someone’s life through my pen, and reach a place within them that is relatable not only to the human condition, but also their reality and emotions. I felt that if I could accomplish that while bringing some thought provoking or productive value to them as well, then at the end of the day, I’m all good. It’s like watching something you created come to life. It was the same way with others, we were in NY at the Hit Factory hanging out with Jodeci when they made Feenin and to watch the world react to it, it’s always special.
Are you bringing back the old school REAL R&B? Will you be collaborating with any other artists and producers on this project?
Yes, we are definitely bringing back that emotion of R&B. I love some of the artists that are out today but, generally speaking, there aren’t too many that are reaching out for the torch of true R&B and running with it. I was in the studio the other day working with Jon Jon Harreld from the group Troop, and we just had this conversation. As far as collabs are concerned, we have a few in mind and actually Randy and I have been speaking with some folks about production on this album outside of ourselves, so we’ll see.
Tell me more about this reunion and the work you’ve been putting in at the studio. Are you producing all new material and/or doing remakes?
We are creating and amassing an assortment of material and tracks for this project. We recorded about 4 songs a while ago, but we are continuing to experiment with the music side of the production all the while keeping our vocals, which are more seasoned, and our recipe intact. It’s a process, and we want to take the time to make sure that it is authentic II D Extreme and not just conformity to what is trendy. I think that we could achieve a balance that is fresh today but yet uncompromised R&B. Brian McKnight has proven that; he is still relevant with his latest release. Well, he did throw in a little auto tune on that Fall 5.0 joint though, lol but it was complimentary and cleverly used…you know not over the top. But him, Joe, Charlie Wilson, man they are definitely torch bearers. Tyrese, Boys II Men, and Johnny Gill are doing the same thing, as far as groups, New Edition, our boys H-Town and Shai, and a few others are still out there doing it!
Jermaine, tell us about your new Vocal School that yourself and Randy are currently offering your services one on one as well as via Skype and conference calls.
It’s going great. We are trying to build something innovative and give people a chance to learn what we know and help develop them into great vocalists. It’s like we are giving back and helping the next generation. You will be hearing more about it in the coming months.
D’Extra, I don’t know if many people are aware that you are a producer and screenplay writer as well. Tell us about some of the work you’ve done in these areas and what projects are you currently working on.
Well, I actually wrote a screenplay years ago called Preacher’s Kid, that was loosely based on my family, and it got circulated a bit too much around the industry and let’s just say other people got the same inspiration. So I had to flip it into another script called Wild Flowers. Afterwards, I wrote three biopics in a row, Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass, and James Brown, with Yamma Brown. Additionally, I’m working with my National Percussion Fraternity; Mu Phi Sigma, Fraternity Inc., (to the 7, Mu Phiii!). Sorry, I had to shout that out, but we have some of the most talented percussionists from the White house, NFL, performance stages, and college bands. We’re expanding more into the music industry as well, so this is an exciting period, I also want to shout out my Kappa Kappa Psi brothers.
D’Extra, being the writer and producer that you are, you’ve worked with many artists throughout the years. Who are some of the artists that you’ve worked with even before they achieved their success?
Let’s see, I’ve worked with or knew many artists and Execs of the industry before they blew up, but to name one that I’m currently proud of is a guy named Frank Ocean. He has a joint out called Novacane, and I remember when we worked he had that it factor, that hunger and thirst, but what’s even cooler is the fact that he had the craziest writing skills…I told him, you are going to be big. He has now written for Justin Beiber, Jay-Z and Kanye’s new album, Beyonce’s new Album. I told others too, like hot video director Paul Hunter, and Roc Nation President, Jay Brown, that they would be big and successful someday because they have that unseen quality of determination and aura about them, and I could see it in their eyes. Rodney Jerkins was another one, I knew it from the moment we worked together in Quad studios in New York that he was something special.
Give us the scoop on the heavy hitters in the music industry that you’ve worked with in the past, have still maintained relationships with or are newly conducting business with.
I won’t name drop but I’ll say that I try to conduct myself with a certain measure of professionalism and respect for others that I’m afforded the ability to maintain good relationships with people. Especially by me living out here in Los Angeles, the entertainment circle is very small in terms of everybody knowing everybody, or at least having a friend that knows somebody who knows somebody, so you have to be careful with the bridges. As far working goes, I can say that I have absorbed from certain people by watching them in the studio up close and personal, over the years, like El DeBarge and Jamie Foxx; they are truly talented individuals. K-Ci & JoJo were fun to work with, Legends like Teddy Pendergrass was an experience too. We did a song with him in Philly called “Slow Ride to Heaven,” which was on his “You and I” CD, and he was something else. His stories alone were legendary!
Randy, I don’t know if you watched the hit reality show, The Braxton’s Family Values, but one comment Tamar Braxton continued to bring up was being known as “Toni Braxton’s sister.” Have you had that same issue?
Wow! Yes, I do and it’s ok sometimes but I’m not getting what I got or where I’ve gotten because of Johnny. At the end of the day I have to prove myself to the fans as I think I have done when I’m performing with my brothers Jermaine and D’Extra. I give 100 % when I’m singing, and I hate it when I’m out doing my own thing and then the question comes, “So what’s Johnny doing?” They don’t ask him what I’m doing. I can go on but I’ll stop here, haha! Let’s just say, I feel where Tamar is coming from.
” II D Extreme & Johnny Gill on The Arsenio Hall Show”
So people do associate who you are with being Johnny Gill’s brother. What affect does that have on you?
You know what, yes. Don’t get me wrong, that’s my brother. I love him to death, and I would do anything for him!! He has taken me out on the road with him and even though sometimes I felt like “hey I can do more here, hello!” I’m still thankful for that. I would have loved to have done more with him, especially for the fans, so they could know that II D Extreme is still out here with him, or one of New Edition’s shows or LSG, you know because I can do it with my brothers Jermaine and D’Extra. We worked so hard like any other performers out here and will work! No matter who you are, it wont be easy to be on the stage with us so, it all effects me in a good way which means I WORK EVEN HARDER NOW for myself and our fans.
Randy, what does the transition feel like being in a successful R&B group to doing more behind the scene things such as writing and performing with Teddy Pendergrass, Usher, your brother Johnny and Shai, then doing your own solo project, “Gillology”?
You know, first I can’t see myself without my brothers there. I love writing and yes I’ve had a taste of doing BG’s with others, and it was fun but the scene; haha. I’ve had to call my brother, D’Extra, and we talked about things we see out there! And really singing with others, Wow! There have been times where I have had to let some people know, “Here I am, I’m here to help whether its writing or being in the background singing and yet I was being treated like ‘you’re nothing but work!’” So I had to let some know that I’m not the one! Music is my love, but I won’t be disrespected by anyone. I’ve paid my dues…all the late nights in the studio, the getting up after leaving the recording studio and we’re off to do shows, being chased out of places from overzealous fans, and never giving less than 100%, and if this is what I get from, lets say, helping pave the way for some who’s in this job now because of II D, which we never talk about because its all love, meaning, we’ve helped others get where they are today and till this day never got one thank you. Some have even left our names out of credits from writing to help getting them jobs with others in this biz. You know what, I can go on and on so I better stop here, hahaha! D’Extra knows what I’m talking about, lol lol! Anyway, Gillology; I love it. It helps me keep my vocals up to par and my writing as well. I’ll never stop, but I know who I’ll write for and who I will not write for. Yes, I’ve had some bad ones! haha I’m out!!!!!!!! Hahaha!
You’re going to be touring soon, when and where can we expect to be able to see you perform live?
As of now we are doing spot dates, once we release the new album, we will inform you guys.
Check out…. II D Extreme on “Video Soul”
Expectantly, there have been some significant changes in your lives since you first came out. Tell us about those changes.
We have families now and are now limited in how much we can hang out. I guess the most significant change is our mindset and thinking process; we have grown more spiritually and have a greatly sharpened our business acumen.
Do you anticipate it being difficult to juggle the reunion with your other business obligations and personal lives?
Well that’s been the holdup thus far, because we have been juggling so much but at this point, we said “Hey lets just make it happen.” We are family first so the transition is a little more plausible. With me being on the West Coast and Randy and Jermaine on the East coast it’s a little more difficult, I think that the digital age has somewhat leveled the field and made it easier in terms of creativity. But, if I was back home in D.C. we would have had twenty full albums done by now.
Check out some “II D Extreme” EXCLUSIVE pics ….
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As we’ve bumped our gums to a close on this GREAT interview we HOPE you’ve enjoyed going back down memory lane with R&B group “II D Extreme” and that they’ve shed some light on where they’ve been and what they’ve been up to!
Until our next week celeb feature… “Pop Star QT Jazz”
Check out more video’s from “II D Extreme”
”If I Knew Then”
”You Got Me Goin – ft.Cormega, Nas & Rodney Jerkins”
“Let Me Love You”