In 1996 the world was introduced to 112, a young and fresh boy group out of ATL signed to the growing Bad Boy Record label roster. This group, which later went on to sell millions of records worldwide, receive countless awards (including a Grammy for “I’ll Be Missing You” featuring Diddy and Faith Evans in 1997), became one of the most successful male groups of the late 1990’s to early 2000’s.
Typically, as success continued to grow, friendships and alliances began to fade and in 2005 112 started to fall apart. Much to many fans dismay, they called it quits after almost twelve years together. No official statement was made about the demise of 112, they just quietly faded into a sad but inevitable oblivion and not much has been said about what really went down all those years ago, until now.
On a recent trip to Atlanta, I was graciously invited into the home of former 112 band member and lead singer, Slim. Now a successful solo artist and CEO of his own label, M3 Productions, Slim is in a great place mentally and physically. As I’m given a tour of his rather grand, but comfortable home, I observe that Slim boasts the kind of confidence only apparent in someone who has been through the rigor, overcome the odds and is now living the good life.
Spread over three levels, his palatial home situated in an immaculate gated community in a town called Stockbridge, includes five bedrooms, five bathrooms, a small movie theatre, a game room, a modest gym/ bachelor room, a swimming pool, large garage which houses five cars, an open planned kitchen/ dinning room and a “Reflection” room home to framed platinum selling CD plaques, awards, a key to the city and his prized and precious Grammy. After my tour and a spectacular gourmet lunch, prepared by Miss Slim, we got down to business.
What was the reason why 112 disbanded all those years ago, because it was never really clear about what really happened?
Cracks in the foundation began to show during working on our fifth album, Pleasure and Pain. Certain members of the group wanted to do their own thing and to explore other opportunities. I guess with time comes growth, its only natural. Certain members tried to go out alone, but things didn’t really work out for them.
Are you still in touch with any of the guys?
I haven’t really talked to any of them in a while. It’s hard. There were a lot of absences and to me 112 takes all four members, it was like you’re doing an injustice to the fans around the world by not being here and taking things seriously. I’m an all or nothing kind of person. I go all the way in or not. I held on to thinking 112 was forever ‘till the bitter end.
How long were you guys in the band prior to that happening?
We all knew each other from when we were around eight years old. We weren’t a group that was put together, we were real friends. It was more than just the group; it was like a brotherhood type situation. On my end, because I’m more about unity and family and structure where everybody’s together and we all do things together it was hard. It took me a minute to get over everything and at the time I was getting all these wild offers to do solo projects and ‘till the bitter end I was saying no, because in my mind all I thought about was 112.
So it wasn’t in your plans to become a solo artist?
No not at all. The breakup was a strong process to get over at first. But what I did know I wanted to do eventually was to start a label where I was in a situation where I could be the captain of my own ship, where I could give artists out there who feel really strongly about their craft a chance. I knew how I felt when Diddy said, ‘this is your chance right here,’ and I remember how that felt and I was like wow, we’re teenagers, we’re still in school, from the hood and this guy, we didn’t know who he was because Bad Boy wasn’t big at that time, we didn’t care who he was because it was like, you’re giving us a chance?
Do you still speak to Diddy?
Yes, I speak to him a lot. In fact he’s gonna be a part of this project and the great thing about him is that when “So Fly” had blasted, he called me, I was in the studio around 3, 4 o’clock in the morning and he was like “Yo Slim!” he was all excited, and I heard the music playing in the background, he was so happy, like, you get it, you didn’t ask for any handout, you made things happen for yourself. But then again, he used to tease me about it when I was younger, he used to tell me like “you know you’re probably gonna end up running your own situation,” that was my way in the group. I always wanted to be the leader. I had a Napoleon complex, I was 125lbs, I had a light voice, anything I did needed to be big, and I still feel that way, I weigh 157lbs now, I’m a little bigger (laughs), but in essence I’m still small so I still have that little chip.
So do you consider Diddy as one of your mentors?
Without a doubt, I love him till this day. The great thing about being around him is that he exposes you to the good, the bad, and the ugly. He never sheltered us away from anything. I was like his sidekick for a long time and was around personal stuff so it was a family situation. When we say “Bad Boy Family,” it really was a family.
What can we expect from your new album Cruise Control?
I’m stepping it up as far as the production side of things. You’re definitely gonna feel growth. I’m now able to touch the prime producers and I think because of my personality I’m able to get along with everybody. They’re all trying to help me out so it’s a great step for me, especially financially. Everybody believes in me now. I proved myself with “So Fly” and “Good Loving” with Ryan Leslie and Fabulous. Everyone calls me Mr. So Fly. Everything I do has to be real fly like.
Who have you got featured on this album?
I have Rick Ross, Jadakiss, P. Diddy, Sean Garret, then I have my artist Deezo and I’m working with this group called Ivy League who have a young Lupe Fiasco, Pharrell and Common kind of feel. I need them on the project so the world can hear my artists.
How do you strike a balance between singing for the ladies and garnering respect from the guys at the same time?
That’s been going down ever since the 112 days. I may write for the women, but I speak for the guys and I make the beats bang. Put Cruise Control in and let the music do it for you. I’ll create a vibe for you. I’m not teaching anybody what to do I’m just setting the mood. Cruise Control is my life, my whole swag. I’m doing things my way. When you put the CD on in your car you just cruise and enjoy the ride.
What do you feel you bring to the music industry that makes you stand out from the rest?
I’m not a new artist here; I’ve been in the game for almost twelve, thirteen years.
Yeah but you’re a new solo artist though?
Yeah but everybody knows who Slim is. The beats are gonna feel one way, but there’s a difference if somebody else sings on it and I sing it. I make the song mine. I’m trying to capture how you go through the day, how music’s gonna effect your life. I want my music to be like if you hear it 15 years from now you can remember exactly where you were, who you were with and what you were doing. That’s what I’m really trying to do.
I want people to be able to say this man maxed out as a writer, as a producer, as an artist, he was a lead singer of a very successful group; he does very well in the community, he’s an all around good young man.
Who would you say is your biggest competition right now?
There’s too much money to make to have any competition. I feel like I’m blessed to have already set a foundation, that’s the one advantage I have. When Slim comes to the situation, you’re not dealing with one or two songs, I have a catalogue, and when Cruise Control comes in, I’m gonna run back to back bangers.
What makes you unique?
My voice is so unique that now I have to really concentrate on what the words are saying. I don’t want the words to be meaningless. You have to make sure the words sound direct. I want my songs to make you feel like I’m talking directly to you. That’s what I really concentrate on and I think that’s what makes me unique.
What do you do for leisure?
I try to be normal as possible, I spend time with my boys, I like sports, video games… I love to travel, I love my own space, and silence which is something that you can’t pay for.
What’s considered sexy to you?
Confidence, and having your own style, being your own individual and doing it to the best of your ability, especially if it comes off positive. I love trendsetters; I love a person that’s not scared to take risks.
Are you at a point in your career where you thought you would be 5 years ago?
I was in 112 then, we were doing our thing. I didn’t think I would be doing it by myself at this level, because I always had the mind frame of 112 forever. I didn’t think I was going to be doing this. Everybody has goals, who doesn’t wanna be P. Diddy or Jay-Z? (Laughs). I’m blessed to be able to be in this position, now its time to show and prove. God never gives you anything that you can’t handle. I feel like this is another challenge and another feat that I’m gonna conquer.
Do you think 112 would ever get back together?
It would have to make business sense. How can you get a CEO that’s making 100%, to go back to 25%? Now I’m in a position where I can sign any of the guys from 112, so its like how would that make sense in my life. One thing about me is that as long as I feel like I’m moving forward, I never stop, I never go backwards, so it has to make all the sense in the world.
What if the fans demanded it?
I’m a fan of 112, trust me when I say. But now I have three boys that I have to worry about and am responsible for. They are nine, eleven and thirteen. It would have to be on some very great circumstances for Slim, and that’s gonna benefit my family and staff.
Words by Julia Huie-Martin