Poison (Bell Biv DeVoe song)

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Single by Bell Biv DeVoe
from the album Poison
Released February 24, 1990
Recorded 1989
Genre New jack swing, hip hop soul
Length 4:21
Label MCA Records
Writer(s) Elliot Straite
Producer(s) Dr. Freeze
Certification Platinum
Bell Biv DeVoe singles chronology
"Do Me!"

"Poison" is a 1990 single by the New Edition spinoff group, Bell Biv DeVoe. This song—in the style of new jack swing, a late-80s hybrid of R&B and hip hop—was the group's most successful, and sings of the dangers of falling in love. "Poison" was the first single taken from Bell Biv DeVoe's debut album of the same name.

The rapped portions of the song were written by rapper and friend of Michael Bivins, Kwame Holland. According to Kwame, Bivins told him about the song while the two were on their way to a club together, playing the scratch track for him at that time. Kwame asked him for a pen and a napkin, and by the time the two had reached their destination Kwame had completed the lyrics, giving them to Bivens at that time as his "contribution" to the project. In an interview on Ed Lover's SiriusXM radio program, Kwame tells this story, admitting that at the time he mistakenly believed that the Bell Biv Devoe side project would never come to fruition.

While the song samples from hip hop (Kool G Rap's "Poison"), the lines "Never trust a big butt and a smile" ("You can't trust a big butt and a smile") and "The J, the I, the M, the M, the Y" (borrowed from Boogie Down Productions' 1988 classic "Jimmy") reflected a new era of AIDS consciousness and would quickly become a staple of hip hop. In the outro, BBD gives shout-outs to their former New Edition bandmates, Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill.

On the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, "Poison" rose from number fifty-two to number thirty-eight in the week of April 14, 1990, and eventually peaked at number three for four consecutive weeks, beginning on June 9, 1990. The single also peaked at number one on the Hot Black Singles chart for two weeks.[1] "Poison" became one of the most successful singles of 1990 (see 1990 in music), and was a staple on MTV and mainstream radio in the summer, spending ten weeks in the Top 10. The single peaked at number seven on the dance charts.[2] "Poison" was certified platinum by the RIAA on June 1, 1990 for sales of over one million copies.

It has been used in film (Pootie Tang, Honey 2, Pineapple Express), television (A Different World, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Scrubs, Glee, The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story, Hindsight), and video games (2004's Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, on new jack swing radio station CSR 103.9, 2009's DJ Hero, 2010's Dance Central). It is also referenced in the Madvillain song, "Fancy Clown" and the Donald D. track, "She Gets Buck Wild". "Poison" was named #60 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s as well as #1 on VH1's 40 Greatest R&B Songs of the 90s.

The song was used in a New York Knicks intermission video, where the players awkwardly attempt to sing along with the song. It was also covered by Dev in her mixtape Dev Is Hot: The Mixtape. The song was also used a sample for Missy Elliott protégée Sharaya J's "Snatch Yo Wigs" (2013).[3]


Chart (1990) Peak
UK Singles Chart 19
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 3
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B Singles 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance/Maxi Singles 7
End of year chart (1990) Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[4] 4


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 52. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 32. 
  3. ^ "SHARAYA J - SMASH UP THE PLACE". YouTube.com. September 11, 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1990". Retrieved 2009-09-15. 

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