Between interview questions, streams of dialogue crisscross our table in a low-lit cigar lounge as rising stars and R&B foursome Meant2B hold several conversations at once. They discuss sports, the best places to find a late dinner, decry the flaws of the iPhone and smooth-talk a waitress into bringing out a bowl of Chex Mix even though the place doesn’t usually serve food.
Although they have occasional creative conflicts within the group—just like any band—these are the digressions that come from conversation among friends, and it’s clear why they’re able to work so well together in the creative realm. They’ve known each other for so long and they’re so in-step musically and artistically that the songs can’t help but happen.
Someone open to the idea of a higher power might say Meant2B are exactly what their name claims—that the apparently by-chance gathering of the four members was part of some greater plan. “We came from four different states and wound up meeting in Edmond, Oklahoma, of all places,” group front man Tre’ McCoy, a.k.a. “Li’l Nova,” says.
Living in the UCO dorms, the group formed in 2001 around a lunch table in the cafeteria, but McCoy, from Omaha; Eric Hallowell, a.k.a. “Ezo,” from Davenport, Iowa; Dele Olasiji, a.k.a. “Gerald LaFlirt,” from Oklahoma and Ahmad Kennedy, a.k.a. “Snoopy,” from Killeen, Texas, started out with a different style of music in mind. They planned to bang out drumbeats on the table and try to rap, but they noticed that all the girls seemed more interested in singers than rappers, so they adjusted their course.
McCoy and Olasiji both claim they started the R&B group to get girls, but all four members affirm that there’s more to their motivation. “And for the love of music,” McCoy says, “You’ve got to love something to do it that long. You’ve got to have love for the music. We’ve been doing this for eight years. Most people don’t stay at the same job for two years.”
McCoy’s parents wore afros and bell bottoms in a group, Electric Moto Funk, in the ‘70s, Hallowell cut his teeth on his father’s John Lee Hooker and B.B. King albums and Olasiji and Kennedy grew up singing in church. “That’s where I got a lot of my musical ability—singing in church choirs,” Kennedy says.
Meant2B describe themselves as innovators and motivators. “When we write our songs, we pretty much write how we talk and feel. We don’t just follow trends,” Hallowell says, “We try to make music that’s going to last and you can remember where you first heard it.”
Their lyrics deal with nightlife, relationships, troubles, trying times and happy times. “We’re basically storytellers,” McCoy says. “Everything in life that you can imagine has happened to us or to someone around us, and that’s where our music comes from. I think that’s why we’re still together.”
“We just try to make music for the times,” Kennedy said.
The same higher power that brought them together guided many of the group’s major breaks. Often, being in the right place at the right time landed Meant2B huge opportunities, like the chance to write “Go Hornets,” the theme song for the Hurricane Katrina-displaced NBA team that paved the way for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Meant2B is currently penning a theme song for The Thunder as well. Other breaks include the chance to write songs for Noria Wilson, one of the stars of the Oscar-winning film, “Dream Girls.” Doing a radio interview in Las Vegas, the group met Wilson by chance. They’ve written and produced three songs for the singer/actress and are working on more.
However, Meant2B’s success can’t be ascribed to providence or luck alone. The foursome have proved their musical mettle time and time again, sharing billing with genre superstars Usher, 50 Cent, Li’l John, Busta Rhymes, Soulja Boy, Li’l Wayne, Sean Kingston, Baby Bash and Akon. They perform before crowds of more than 20,000 people, singing in half-time shows for the Nuggets, Lakers, Mavericks, Hornets and other NBA teams.
Their debut album, the self-titled “Meant2B”, was voted Midwest R&B Album of the Year by a DJ pool and their singles “Body Language” and “Backup Plan” enjoy extensive airplay on KJ 103FM, Wild 104.9FM, KISS 98.9FM, as well as KLAV in Las Vegas and L103 in Atlanta. Meant2B also won the KJ 103 Challenge, where the station puts two songs against each other and lets listeners vote for their favorite. “We knocked Justin Timberlake out of the park,” McCoy says.
The group is set to independently release their sophomore album, “Swag,” in February and follow it with an international tour. A lot of Internet sales for their first album came from overseas, especially Germany, and that’s one country they want to be sure to visit so they can meet their fans.
They’ve got some big people helping out on their new album, like Cosa Nostra; Jaz O from the Rockafella camp; Rock Wilder, who produced Christina Aguilara and many other famous singers and others, but Meant2B promise “Swag” will stay true to the roots they’ve nurtured in the eight years they’ve been together. It will release on iTunes and Rhapsody, as well as retail outlets within the region. Through all of this, Meant2B represent themselves and do their own producing, managing, writing, arranging and everything else through their company, Full Circle Music.
“In all we do,” McCoy says, “we try to represent Oklahoma and we try to represent it in a good light. When people hear about local music, they expect the quality to go down, but when we go outside Oklahoma, guess what—we aren’t local anymore.”
Meant2B urges fans to call into radio stations and request their new singles, “Déjà Vu” and “Body Language,” and to not hesitate to introduce themselves when they see them in person. “We’re really personable people,” McCoy says, “If you come out to a show, come over and talk to us.”
For more information, visit www.myspace.com/m2bmusic.