2011 was a banner year for R&B’s hottest band, Mint Condition, who celebrated their 20th anniversary. Their album 7… was critically hailed, featuring a top ten hit (“Not My Daddy” with Kelly Price which earned two Grammy nominations) and two top 20 singles (“Caught My Eye” and “Walk On”). Jet Magazine called 7… “The kind of CD you can put on and play all the way through, and The Philadelphia Inquirer raved “This is what honest, open, mature soul sounds like. Pay attention!” Mint Condition was also tapped to appear on Prince’s Welcome 2 America tour and they were selected as the house band for TV One’s Way Black When. Mint Condition has released seven studio albums that have been stretched out during their career. Their fans will be elated that their new CD, MUSIC @ THE SPEED OF LIFE, will arrive September 25, 2012, just a year after 7….The new album’s vibe and feel call to mind Mint Condition’s timeless breakthrough hits “Pretty Brown Eyes” and “What Kind Of Man Would I Be,” while at the same time showcases their incomparable chops. Their soulful anthems, serious grooves and sublime songwriting draw upon the great R&B band tradition ignited by Earth Wind & Fire, The Meters, Kool & The Gang, War and others. Mint Condition is truly the only band in R&B upholding this history and pushing it forward into a new era. They are, without a doubt, the greatest self-contained R&B band of our time. “This past year has been both amazing and amazingly busy; just they way we like it,” confesses Mint Condition. “We definitely think we’re headed in the right direction. It’s kind of strange to say that after two decades but we feel it’s our time now, we’ve paid a lot of dues, been schooled in the business, honed our craft, in other words, we’ve gone to the “puppet show” and seen the strings!”
Mint Condition has garnered a devoted following and cultivated a genuine connection with their audience. The band reflects, “We believe by staying true you become vulnerable in many ways and people feel that, whether it’s joy, love or pain, it comes across in the music and people embrace that!” MUSIC @ THE SPEED OF LIFE sounds like nothing else on the scene today, once again demonstrating that Mint Condition is one of those rare artists with their own unique sound. Highlights on the CD include the funky head nodder “Girl of My Life,” which describes one of the band members’ experience as the odd man out in the search for love as he witnessed the rest of the band settling down. The track features DJ Jazzy Jeff and a riveting drum solo by Stokley. The unforgettable ballad “Completely” is a ballad about finally finding and accepting your place in life. “It speaks to how we’ve synched up both in our respective personal lives and as a working band,” explains Mint Condition. The inviting and free flowing “649 Changes” is another stand out and features Brother Ali and the M-Factory Horns lead by former Prince and Maceo Parker saxophonist Eric Leeds.
The members of Mint Condition met as teenagers growing up in the Twin Cities—Minneapolis-St. Paul — amidst a thriving music scene energized by Prince, The Time, Jam & Lewis, The Replacements, Soul Asylum and many other artists. Keyboardists Lawrence El and Keri Lewis, guitarist O’Dell, keyboardist/saxophonist Jef, drummer/vocalist Stokley, and bass player Ricky came together in the performing arts program at Central High School. Playing together in different combinations led to them forming Mint Condition; a gig at the famed First Avenue Club in 1989 caught the attention of super-producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, formerly of The Time, and they were signed to Jam & Lewis’ Perspective Records. MEANT TO BE MINT, their debut album, was released in 1991. Their first single, a New Jack Swing-styled number, had only modest success but it was a ballad, “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes),” which has become one of the classic R&B ballads of our time, that was their breakthrough, hitting #3 on the R&B charts and #6 on the Pop charts, with the follow-up “Forever In Your Eyes” hitting #7 on R&B charts. Mint Condition was established as a gold-selling act. Further hit singles and albums followed, with “U Send Me Swingin’,” “Someone To Love” and “So Fine” all hitting from the FROM THE MINT FACTORY album and “What Kind Of Man Would I Be” (another acknowledged classic) and “You Don’t Have To Hurt No More” from DEFINITION OF A BAND. After Perspective Records folded, Mint Condition signed with Elektra, delivering more hits with “If You Love Me” and “Is This Pain Our Pleasure” from the LIFE’S AQUARIUM album. In the early 2000s the group took a break from their relentless recording and touring schedule. They resumed as a quintet with only keyboard player Keri Lewis absent, releasing a new album, LIVING THE LUXURY BROWN, on their own Caged Bird label in 2005, hitting again with “I’m Ready.” Their high-energy live performance was captured with the release of LIVE AT THE 9:30 CLUB and then 2008’s E-LIFE yielded another hit with “Nothing Left To Say.” MUSIC @ THE SPEED OF LIFE follows 2011’s 7… . Mint Condition shares about their newest effort, “Life was our inspiration; fast-paced, multifaceted, adventurous and ever-changing. Our music is drawn from various sources, and the lyrics speak to the hard knocks as well as the triumphs of life.”