Mint Condition is an American R&B band from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The band fuses diverse genres such as jazz, hip hop, funk and dance into its music. Mint Condition has also been nominated for four Grammy and Soul Train Awards.As a band, Mint Condition came into being during the early 1980s. At first, the band consisted of lead singer Stokley Williams, rhythm guitarist Homer O'Dell and Larry Waddell on keyboards. Keyboardist/saxophonist Jeff Allen, keyboardist, percussionist and rhythm guitarist Keri Lewis and bass guitarist Rick Kinchen completed the original lineup.
They were discovered by music producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis in 1989, during a performance at a club in downtown Minneapolis called First Avenue. Jam and Lewis signed Mint Condition to Perspective Records soon afterward.
Their debut album was entitled Meant to Be Mint and released on June 11, 1991 by Perspective. Despite their musical versatility, the band attempted to attract new jack swing listeners with their dance cut "Are You Free", but it wasn't successful (the song hit #55 on the R&B charts). However, they did enjoy major success with the ballad "Breakin' My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)". The song stayed on the charts for 34 weeks, hitting the R&B top 5 (#3), and the Pop Top 10 (#6) and was certified gold by the RIAA. The third single "Forever In Your Eyes" was also a successful Top 10 R&B hit (#7 R&B). Two years later, they released their second album, From The Mint Factory (1993). They enjoyed success with the single "U Send Me Swingin'" which peaked at #2 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart for four weeks straight in the spring of 1994. The song was also a smash on the Rhythmic Top 40 charts where it reached #14. The band's next two singles, "Someone to Love" and "So Fine", were Billboard Top 30 R&B hits, reaching the #28, and #29 spots respectively.
In September 1996, the band released Definition of a Band. The album peaked in the R&B Top 15. The first successful single on this album was the Billboard R&B smash hit single "What Kind Of Man Would I Be?" which was about remaining faithful in a relationship (#2 R&B, #17 Pop). The single crept up to the number 2 spot on the Billboard R&B charts in a matter of weeks and received a Gold certification by the RIAA that December. "What Kind Of Man Would I Be?" was so popular that it stayed on the Billboard R&B Charts for a total of 41 weeks before it finally fell off. "You Don't Have to Hurt No More" was the second single released from Definition of a Band and it was also a Top 10 R&B hit. (#10 R&B, #32 pop). The success of these two singles along with positive reviews of the album allowed Definition of a Band to reach Gold status as well. Two years later, The Collection: 1991-1998, a greatest hits compilation, was issued. After Perspective Records/A&M folded, the group signed with Elektra Records in 1999, releasing their fourth full-length album, Life's Aquarium which also debuted in the Top 10 (#7 R&B). Its main single, "If You Love Me", hit the R&B Top 5 while appearing on the R&B charts for 31 weeks. The second single, "Is This Pain Our Pleasure", peaked at #42, while also peaking at #34 on the R&B Airplay Charts.
2000s: Livin' The Luxury Brown and E-Life
After a six year hiatus, the group resurfaced as a quintet because keyboard player Keri Lewis left the group to produce for other artists, such as his wife, singer Toni Braxton, and then joined the entertainment division at Santa Fe Station Casino. In 2005, they released Livin' The Luxury Brown on their independent label Caged Bird Records. The album hit #1 on the Independent Album Charts. Live From The 9:30 Club, a performance of a concert at the 9:30 club in Washington DC, was issued in 2006.
In 2008, they released a new album entitled E-Life which debuted at #8 on the Billboard R&B album chart, and spawned two singles, "Baby Boy, Baby Girl" and "Nothing Left To Say". The second single, "Nothing Left To Say", became the band's first Top 30 R&B single in almost a decade (#27 R&B) and also a Top 5 Billboard Urban Adult Contemporary hit, peaking at #3.
2010-present: 7..., Tour with Prince, TV appearances
In December 2010, Mint Condition joined pop legend Prince and an ensemble cast of R&B and Jazz musicians for his Welcome 2 America tour. With the group's 20th anniversary approaching, Mint Condition celebrated with the release of their new album 7.... Released April 5, 2011, this multi-dimensional piece of work produced by Shanachie Records contained several hits, including "Caught My Eye" as well as their collaboration with Kelly Price, "Not My Daddy". The reported name, "7...", for this album was to mark the group's seventh studio album of their career. During the month of February, Mint Condition appeared as the house band for TV One's program Way Black When, which celebrated the greatest African American music artists throughout the 70’s, into the 90’s. Towards the end of 2012 in December, Mint Condition was entered into the Soul Music Hall of Fame. The group released a new album called Music At The Speed Of Life in September 2012. They were also featured in the 2013 season of TV One's "Unsung". On October 16, 2015, they released a Christmas CD called Healing Season.
DiscographyFurther information: Mint Condition discography
- Meant to Be Mint (1991)
- From the Mint Factory (1993)
- Definition of a Band (1996)
- Life's Aquarium (1999)
- Livin' the Luxury Brown (2005)
- E-Life (2008)
- 7... (2011)
- Music at the Speed of Life (2012)
- Healing Season (2015)
Awards and nominations
The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
|2016||Healing Season||Best R&B Album||Nominated|
Soul Train Music Award
|1997||Definition of a Band||Best R&B/Soul Album by a Duo or Group||Nominated|
|1997||What Kind Of Man Would I Be||Best R&B/Soul Single by a Group, Band or Duo||Nominated|
|2005||Livin' the Luxury Brown||Best R&B/Soul Album by a Duo or Group||Nominated|
SoulTracks Readers' Choice Awards
- Winners: Independent Album of the Year Mint Condition - Music @ the Speed of LIfe* (2013)
- Winners: Duo or Group of the Year- Mint Condition* (2012)
- Winners: Duo or Group of the Year- Mint Condition* (2011)
- Winners: Album of the Year Mint Condition - e-Life* (2008)
- Winners: Duo or Group of the Year - Mint Condition* (2008)
SoulMusic Hall Of Fame at SoulMusic.com
- Inducted: Contemporary Soul Music Artist/Group Or Duo* (December 2012)