Mark Middleton

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Mark Middleton is a member of the R&B group Blackstreet,[1] born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in South Carolina. Middleton grew up in the church and began singing at an early age. His musical influences included Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway. He left Blackstreet in 1998 after a dispute with the group's co-founder and leader Teddy Riley. He returned to the group in 2001 after his solo album was shelved. Middleton along with Riley, Hannibal, and Williams were working on a Blackstreet reunion as of 2008 and the group expanded the group from a quartet to a quintet by adding original lead singer Dave Hollister back in the fold but Riley has decided to move on without Middleton and Williams and added new member Sherman "J-Stylz" Tisdale in place of Mark. He and Eric Williams have formed their own group with Englewood, New Jersey singer Jeremy "Remy" Hanna. Mark & Eric have reunited with original member Chauncey Black also Levi Little under Blackstreet due to the fact that Teddy formed a Blackstreet 2nd Generation group BS2 with Dave Hollister & three new members called BS2.

Early career and Blackstreet[edit]

Before his Blackstreet days, Mark Middleton was a member of R&B group Brik Citi, who released one album in 1994 ("Between A Rock And A Hard Place"). In 1992 Middleton contributed background vocals for R&B singer Bruce Saunders on his album. His groupmate Eric Williams also sang background vocals on Saunders album. In 1996 New Jack Swing pioneer and founder and member of R&B groups Guy and Blackstreet Teddy Riley and Blackstreet's co-founder Chauncey Hannibal were looking for new members for Blackstreet after the departure of members Levi Little and Dave Hollister. The group first recruited Englewood, New Jersey native Williams, who was a good friend of Hannibal. Williams told Riley and Hannibal about Middleton who sang background vocals with him for Bruce Saunders. After hearing Middleton sing Riley and Hannibal were blown away by his talent and he became a member of Blackstreet. Middleton along with Eric Williams made their debut's with Blackstreet on the first single from their second album Another Level in the summer of 1996 called "No Diggity" featuring West Coast rapper Dr. Dre and Teddy Riley's protégée female rapper Queen Pen.

Solo career[edit]

After helping propel the group to success with their second album and a few guest appearances there was trouble brewing within the Blackstreet camp. A dispute over money issues saw Middleton leave the group in 1998 to find success as a solo artist. Blackstreet replaced Middleton with North Carolina native Terrell Phillips and they released their third album Finally in 1999. In 2000 Mark Middleton was featured on singer Vibe's song "Tonight's The Night".

In 2001 he sang the song "I Do" co-produced by Jayson Martin of JM Productions Studio Eden NC for the movie The Brothers. That same year Middleton signed a solo deal with Quincy Jones label Qwest Records distributed through Warner Bros. Records. He then recorded his solo debut My Turn, My Time which featured songs such as "Me & Your Lady", "Date With Love", and "Forever You & I". The album however wasn't released because Qwest Records folded.

Blackstreet reunion[edit]

Middleton was displeased with not finding success as a solo artist. The group he left to go solo Blackstreet was also not having any success with their third album Finally and began having problems with their label Interscope Records. Despite the success of their singles "Take Me There" with singer Mýa and rappers Mase and Blinky Blink, "Girlfriend/Boyfriend" with Janet Jackson, and rappers Ja Rule and Eve, and "Think About You", the album couldn't live up to the success of their 1994 debut and 1996 second album Another Level.

The declining sales of Finally, problems with their label Interscope, and numerous line-up changes took its toll on the group as group co-founders Teddy Riley and Chauncey Hannibal began feuding as they were suing each other and taking each other to court. Hannibal accused Riley of stealing the members of Blackstreet's money and also that Riley was a control freak and that's the reason for the line-up changes. Riley then decided to focus on the Guy reunion instead of Blackstreet and put the group on hiatus. Riley countersued for defamation of character.

After the release of Guy's reunion album Guy III in 2000, Riley soon had a falling out with Guy members Aaron Hall and Damion Hall. He decided to focus on his own writing and producing career and started work on a solo album. Some of the songs he recorded felt like Blackstreet records to him. He had second thoughts about disbanding Blackstreet and decided to end the bitter feud with Hannibal. The two decided to put the group's Another Level line-up back together and brought Eric Williams and Mark Middleton back to the fold. In 2003 the group released their reunion album titled Level II which featured the hits "Wizzy Wow" featuring rapper Mystikal, "Deep", and "Bygones" which Middleton wrote and featured ex-Blackstreet member Dave Hollister.

In 2005 Chauncey Hannibal decided to leave Blackstreet for a solo career. In 2006 Teddy Riley, Mark Middleton, and Eric Williams reformed Blackstreet with new member J-Stylz and joined the New Jack Reunion Tour, which Riley created along with Tony! Toni! Tone!, After 7, SWV, and Riley's earlier group, Guy.

As of 2009 the Blackstreet line-up consists of its best known line-up of Teddy Riley, Chauncey Hannibal, Eric Williams, and Middleton plus original member Dave Hollister who left Blackstreet in 1995 along with Levi Little who is not in this reunion. After a stint as a gospel artist Dave is now back with the current four Blackstreet members from the Another Level album. Mark Middleton & Eric Williams were dropped by Blackstreet's founder Teddy Riley from the reunion recently and were replaced by Sherman "J-Stylz" Tisdale and another guy Kermit Quinn of the R&B group Intro also performs with them. Mark & Eric have formed their own group with Englewood, New Jersey native Jeremy "Remy" Hanna as M.E.R. There is two group performing Blackstreet hits Teddy's group with himself, Chauncey Hannibal, Dave Hollister, and new touring members Sherman "J-Stylz" Tinsdale & sometimes Kermit Quinn (who is there waiting in the wings. The other consists of Mark Middleton, Eric Williams, & Remy.

Mark & Eric also has a production company called FGM where they write and produce their own acts. Blackstreet now consists of Middleton, Teddy Riley, Dave Hollister, & Eric Williams.

Middleton & Williams however left Blackstreet again in 2011 & Chauncey Black has returned so they are no longer in the current lineup which is now Teddy Riley, Chauncey Black, Dave Hollister, & a new member Glenn Adams aka Lenny Harold who will cover for Levi Little & Middleton vocals. Riley & Hannibal filed a lawsuit against Middleton & Williams for wrongful use of the Blackstreet name. In 2014 after a mutual falling out with Teddy Riley Chauncey Hannibal, Levi Little, Mark Middleton, & Eric Williams worked things out and are back as Blackstreet while Teddy Riley & Dave Hollister are in a new group BS2.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Huey, Steve. "Biography: Blackstreet". Allmusic. Retrieved 29 May 2010.