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After 7

After 7

One of the most refined contemporary R&B vocal groups, After 7 arrived near the end of the 1980s and hit the Top Ten of Billboard's R&B/hip-hop chart with their first four albums, led by the platinum After 7 (1989) and gold follow-up Takin' My Time (1992). While After 7's hot start occurred during the new jack swing era, the singers' easy harmonies and continued songwriting and production assistance from Babyface and L.A. Reid -- the duo behind "Ready or Not" and the Grammy-nominated "Can't Stop," both Top Ten pop hits -- enabled them to make a smooth transition with Reflections (1995). After a subsequent split, the group reconvened in the mid-2000s to perform, and added to their discography the next decade with Timeless (2016). Originally consisting of Melvin Edmonds, Kevon Edmonds, and Keith Mitchell -- the Edmondses are Babyface's brothers -- After 7 has changed lineups over the decades. Since the death of Melvin Edmonds, the lineup features Kevon Edmonds and Keith Mitchell with Danny McClain. Their new chapter has started with Unfinished Business (2021).

Formed in 1987 at Indiana University by Indianapolis natives Kevon and Melvin Edmonds and Keith Mitchell, After 7 quickly landed a deal with major label Virgin and were an instant success with their debut single, "Heat of the Moment." Written and produced by Babyface and L.A. Reid (with co-production from Daryl Simmons and Kevin "Kayo" Robertson), the single entered the Billboard R&B chart in July 1989 and eventually reached number five. After 7, their first album, followed shortly thereafter and went platinum after subsequent singles "Ready or Not" and "Can't Stop" -- both of which were also Babyface/L.A. Reid collaborations -- topped the R&B chart. Once the album ran its course, After 7 recorded "Nights Like This" for the soundtrack for The Five Heartbeats. The Jesse Johnson production likewise peaked within the R&B Top Ten. "Can't Stop" was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

The group's 1992 follow-up, Takin' My Time, involved less input from Babyface and Reid, more from Daryl Simmons and Kevin Roberson, and added the likes of Dallas Austin and Randy Ran to their gang of studio associates. "Kickin' It" and an update of the Originals' "Baby, I'm for Real" maintained the trio's chart run. Reflections was issued three years later and was highlighted by "'Til You Do Me Right," a song written by Kevon, Melvin, and Babyface. Takin' My Time and Reflections were both certified gold by the time the group temporarily split.

Although they didn't record for another two decades, After 7 resumed touring in the mid-2000s, and Melvin was replaced with his son Jason. Melvin eventually returned, and the quartet worked again with Babyface and Simmons on Timeless, their fourth straight Top Ten R&B/hip-hop album, released in 2016. Following Melvin's death in 2019, Kevon Edmonds and Keith Mitchell were joined by new member Danny McClain, and in 2021 offered Unfinished Business, featuring the Babyface collaboration "Tomorrow Can Wait." ~ Andy Kellman

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