Baby Hold on to Him: Remembering Gerald Levert

Gerald Levert in 2001.
Photo Credit
Michael Caulfield/WireImage

In his too-brief but incredible career, Gerald Levert carried on an impressive soul legacy first set by his father, Eddie Levert of The O'Jays. In the late '80s, he helped usher the brash sound of new jack swing into the mainstream, and maintained a strong presence on the R&B charts throughout the '90s and '00s. Let's honor his memory by taking a look back at Levert and more.

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Levert, "(Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop) Goes My Mind" (1986)

Eddie's sons Gerald and Sean Levert teamed up with Marc Gordon to form Levert in 1985. A year later, Bloodline, their first for the Atlantic label, lived up to its name, with the trio's dense harmonies meshing well with a mix of throwback and current instrumental styles, from head-bopping drum machines to lush guitar lines. Lead single "(Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop) Goes My Mind" became their first to top Billboard's R&B charts.

Levert, "Casanova" (1987)

With the drum machines amped up and a syncopated melody that burst from the radio waves, "Casanova" helped mark a major change in the sound of R&B for the rest of the decade, from Bobby Brown to Guy. The track became Levert's sole crossover to the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 5.

Read More: A Number One Guy: Teddy Riley's Top Productions

Troop & Levert feat. Queen Latifah, "For the Love of Money/Living for the City" (1991)

At the start of 1991, Levert bridged the gap between their Philly soul past and New Jack present, collaborating with R&B quintet Troop and rapper Queen Latifah on a cover of The O'Jays' smash "For the Love of Money," mixing in a dash of Stevie Wonder's "Living for the City" for good measure. The track was included on the soundtrack to the hit drama New Jack City and reached No. 12 on Billboard's R&B chart.

Levert, "Baby I’m Ready" (1991)

Levert's fifth album, Rope-a-Dope Style, was also their second to be entirely self-produced. It featured "Baby I'm Ready," a classic '90s bedroom jam with irresistible harmonies over a shimmering cascade of keyboards. It was their fifth and final single to become a No. 1 R&B smash.

Gerald Levert, "Private Line" (1991)

After a busy year for Levert, Gerald began a solo career in earnest, targeting the dance floor with the title track of his Private Line. This uptempo hit kept his hot streak of No. 1 R&B hits with Levert going strong.

Read More: A Classic Album: Gerald Levert's 'Private Line'

Gerald Levert feat. Eddie Levert, "Baby Hold On to Me" (1992)

Gerald's second No. 1 R&B hit was something fans had been waiting years to hear: a duet with his dad. Eddie Levert and his offspring would later collaborate on 1995's Father and Son and 2007's posthumously released Something to Talk About.

Levert, "ABC-123" (1993)

But Gerald didn't turn his back on Levert even after his solo career took off. The trio reunited for 1993's For Real Tho', scoring another Top 5 R&B hit with the intimate "ABC-123."

LSG, "My Body" (1997)

In 1997, Gerald formed another extremely powerful soul trio: LSG, consisting of himself, Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill of New Edition. Featuring powerhouse productions from superstars like Jermaine Dupri and Sean "Puffy" Combs, LSG was a staple of any grown n' sexy record collection, and bedroom jam "My Body" became a Top 5 pop hit.

Gerald Levert, "Thinkin’ Bout It" (1998)

Hot off the success of LSG, Levert shook things up a bit on "Thinkin' 'Bout It" - keeping the downtempo style but trading romantic lyrics for a story of sensual betrayal. Gerald's quickfire lyrical delivery here made this an earworm in the late '90s, becoming his first solo track to cross over into the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100.

Gerald Levert, "Mr. Too Damn Good" (2000)

A funny thing happened as Gerald Levert reached what unfortunately became the final decade of his recording career: his albums charted higher and higher. Beginning with 2000's G, which featured the rhythmic, romantic "Mr. Too Damn Good," Levert put four albums in the Top 10 of Billboard's R&B and pop charts, ensuring his reputation as a soul man with songs to last. While he left us in 2006 of an accidental overdose at the age of 40, his music very much lives on.

 

 

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