They may be just 15 years old, but the teen R&B quartet that makes up Mindless Behavior and the blue-chip team behind them are determined to stick to old school rules when it comes to the newest boy band phenom.
“It’s about artist development, something that has been lost in this day of instant YouTube stars,” says Kenneth Crear, who previously managed Janet Jackson and the Backstreet Boys. “When we put out their record, these kids were ready — not just as performers, but they were mentally and physically conditioned as well.”
In 2008, Walter Millsup (of Conjunction Entertainment) and Streamline Records CEO Vincent Herbert held an open audition in Los Angeles with more than 600 kids applying. Once the members were picked — Ray Ray, Princeton, Roc Royal (all from South Central L.A.) and Prodigy from Philadelphia — they were moved into a house Big Brother-style, where they shared the same room for 18 months and rehearsed for eight hours a day.
“It was a great bonding experience, and we really understand each other,” says Ray Ray.
On the strength of their first single, “My Girl,” released in 2010, the boys quickly garnered a frenzied pre- and young teen audience as they toured high schools and made shopping center appearances, moving on to support spots with the Backstreet Boys and Justin Bieber before a headline tour this year. Their debut album, “#1 Girl,” debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard Top 200 and has sold 275,000 copies in the U.S.
“We released different CD covers featuring each of the boys and sold multiple copies. These are kids that want a tangible product rather than just a download,” says Herbert. While the group’s urban pop sound is appealing to a predominantly young African-American audience, Herbert believes it’s only the beginning. “With the second album, we are going straight for Top 40, spreading the music to other markets. It’s just a matter of time before this takes off like a rocket.”
Impact: The R&B quartet racked up more than 142 million views on YouTube and received the Viewer’s Choice Award at the 2012 BET Awards.
Next: A new album is coming in January and a feature movie starring all four boys, plus more international touring to get the band’s brand beyond the U.S. market.
Causes: One of the members, Princeton, was a victim of bullying at school, so they plan to set up their own anti-bullying campaign. They also advocate healthy eating and an active lifestyle.