|Origin||New York City, United States|
|Genres||R&B, funk, jazz-funk, post-disco|
|Labels||Third Street (1973–1977)|
|Associated acts||Stephanie Mills, Miles Davis|
|Members||James Mtume (1978–1986) |
Tawatha Agee (1978–1986)
Philip Field (1982–1986)
Ed "Tree" Moore (1982–1986)
Leslie Ming (1982–1986)
|Past members||Hubert Eaves III (1978–1980)|
Reggie Lucas (1978–1980)
Basil Fearrington (1978–1980)
Howard King (1978–1980)
Mtume (pronounced em-tu-may) was a funk and soul group that rose to prominence during the early 1980s and had several R&B hits during its career. Its founder, former percussionist James Mtume, previously played and toured with Miles Davis in the early 1970s. Other members of the group included Reggie Lucas, Philip Field and vocalist Tawatha Agee. Mtume also gained recognition after having its hit single "Juicy Fruit" extensively sampled by many hip-hop artists, most notably by the Notorious B.I.G. in the 1994 hit song "Juicy".
During the start of the group's career, they recorded three albums, their first for Strata East (1972) titled Alkebu-Lan- The Land of the Blacks, and two for the independent label Third Street Records: Kawaida (1973); Alkebu-Lan (1975); and Rebirth Cycle (1977). However, not finding pop or R&B chart success, they signed to major label Epic Records in 1978, releasing the albums Kiss This World Goodbye (1978), and In Search of the Rainbow Seekers (1980), which found modest success on the R&B chart. Their 1983 album Juicy Fruit, however, provided Mtume with its biggest hit, when the title song reached number one for eight weeks on the U.S. R&B chart, and was certified gold by the RIAA, despite shying just off the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 at 45.
Mtume's 1984 album You, Me, and He also proved to be a success with the title song reaching number 2 on the R&B chart. Their final R&B top ten hit was "Breathless" (1986) from their final album Theater of the Mind. Mtume continued recording with Epic Records until the late 1980s. Group member Tawatha Agee subsequently went solo in 1987.
Concurrent with his time in Mtume, James Mtume wrote several songs for an assortment of artists, often with Mtume bandmate Reggie Lucas, such as Stephanie Mills' Top-ten single "Never Knew Love Like This Before" (for which they both received a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song Writing and Producing) and the Roberta Flack/Donny Hathaway hit singles "The Closer I Get to You" and "Back Together Again".
Following Mtume's disbandment, James Mtume resumed his already prolific production and songwriting career, which has included writing "Freak Tonight" by R. Kelly from the A Thin Line Between Love and Hate Soundtrack, and co-producing Mary J. Blige's album, Share My World. He also produced Roy Ayers, and the Bar-Kays, and composed the music and theme tune for the 1990s television police drama New York Undercover.
Philip Field continued to produce and write for many artists including Gwen Guthrie, Tawatha Agee, Tyrone Brunson, the Bar-Kays, Charles Earland and others. He co-wrote and co-produced on Roy Ayers' album You Might Be Surprised and co-wrote How Many Ways from Toni Braxton's debut album.
The 1978–80 line-up was:
The 1982–86 line-up was:
|Year||Album||Peak chart positions||Certifications||Record Label|
|1978||Kiss This World Goodbye||—||—||—||Epic|
|1980||In Search of the Rainbow Seekers||119||30||—|
|1984||You, Me and He||77||5||85|
|1986||Theater of the Mind||135||23||—|
|"—" denotes a recording that did not chart.|
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Certifications||Album|
|1978||"Just Funnin'"||—||93||—||—||Kiss This World Goodbye|
|1980||"Give It on Up (If You Want To)"||—||26||30||—||In Search of the Rainbow Seekers|
|"So You Wanna Be a Star"||—||60||52||—|
|1983||"Juicy Fruit"||45||1||30||34||Juicy Fruit|
|"Would You Like To (Fool Around)"||—||11||—||—|
|"You, Me and He"||83||2||—||—||You, Me and He|
|"C.O.D. (I'll Deliver)"||—||20||—||—|
|1985||"I Simply Like"||—||—||—||—|
|1986||"Breathless"||—||9||—||—||Theater of the Mind|
|"P.O.P. (Pursuits of Pleasure) Generation"||—||39||—||—|
|"Body & Soul (Take Me)"||—||71||—||—|
|"—" denotes a recording that did not chart.|
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- "Biography written by Steve Kurutz of AllMusic". soulinterviews.com. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
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- "US Charts > Mtume". Billboard. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
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