Next is an American R&B musical group, popular during the late 1990s. They are best known for their hit singles, "Too Close", and "Wifey".
Fronted by founding members R.L. Huggar, and brothers Terry and Raphael Brown, the group was founded together by the Brown family's uncle, who was a local gospel choir director. They began performing under the name "Straight4ward." For a commercial appeal, the name "straight4ward," was changed to "Next" with assistance of producer, Lance "LA" Alexander. The group trained under and was managed for a time by Ann Nesby from the gospel group Sounds of Blackness. Next was introduced in their home town of Minneapolis, Minnesota to producer and DJ artist KayGee from Naughty By Nature. They, subsequently, signed with KayGee's newly formed Divine Mill record label, which at the time was distributed through Arista Records.
1997-1999: Rated Next
Next's debut album, Rated Next, was released in September 1997. The album featured appearances by R&B singer Adina Howard, as well as newcomers Koffee Brown, Duganz Shalont, Castro and an appearance by Naughty By Nature. Their debut single, "Butta Love" became a top five (#4) R&B hit, while going top twenty (#16) Pop, in the fall of 1997. Their second single "Too Close" peaked at number one on both Billboard's Hot 100 and R&B Singles chart, the former for five weeks, and was named the number one song of 1998 by Billboard Magazine. "I Still Love You," the albums third and final single, went top twenty (#14) Pop and was RIAA-certified Gold. Also in 1998, Next recorded "Whatever You Want" (which featured Curtis Conway) for the NFL Jams compilation album.
In addition to this, Next topped the Billboard Year-End Charts as the "Top New Pop Artist," "Top Hot 100 Singles Artist - Duos/Group," "Top R&B Artist - Duos/Group" (singles & albums), "Top New R&B Artist," "Top Hot R&B Singles Artist," "Top Hot R&B Singles Artist - Duos/Group," and with the Top Hot 100 Single, Top Hot R&B Single, and Top Hot R&B Single Airplay. Rated Next was certified double platinum, and the group was nominated for an American Music Award for "Favorite Soul/R&B Band/Duo/Group."
In 1999, Next also appeared on Destiny's Child recorded "If You Leave Him" for their second album The Writing's on the Wall and contributed "Nobody" to the Violator compilation with rapper Mysonne. Also, the same year, group member R.L. dueted with Deborah Cox on her top ten hit "We Can't Be Friends".
2000-2001: Welcome II Nextasy
Next's sophomore album Welcome II Nextasy was released in 2000; featured guests included: Beanie Sigel, reggae artist Red Rat, Renee Neufville (from Zhane), as well as a then fledgling 50 Cent. The albums first single "Wifey" topped the R&B Singles chart, while peaking at number seven on the Hot 100. The followup single "Beauty Queen," however, peaked at a modest number forty-eight R&B, while failing to chart on the Hot 100 at all. Subsequently, while the album was Gold certified, it failed to ultimately mirror the success of their debut. Next, however, was nominated for a Soul Train Music Award for "Best R&B/Soul Album; Group, Band or Duo" and a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for "Favorite Group - R&B." Next also collaborated at this time with new labelmate Jaheim on his single "Anything" (also appearing in the music video), and provided backing vocals on several tracks on his album Ghetto Love.
After the run of their second album album Next transferred from Arista to J Records to continue to work under the guidance of former Arista head Clive Davis upon his leaving the label and launching J. Next also appeared on the soundtrack to Bad Company with the song "Tonite."
2002-2003: The Next Episode
In early 2002, while Next was on hiatus, R.L.'s solo debut album, RL: Ements was released to modest success and acclaim. Later in the years, Next returned with their third album, The Next Episode. Prior to the recording of the album, group member T-Low underwent throat surgery, which caused the concern that he may not be able to sing again. There were rumors of turmoil within the group springing from R.L.'s various outside endeavors, as well as with group member Tweety's own solo aspirations. The first single from the album was "Imagine That", which was relatively tame compared to the group's known penchant toward raunchier material. The album, though, failed to chart well. Shortly thereafter, the group's contract with J Records was dissolved. Whether due to sales, or if other factors were involved was not made clear.
After J Records
In late 2005, Next was briefly signed to G-Unit/Interscope Records. According to reports, award-winning producers Jermaine Dupri, Rich Harrison, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and Jon Bryant were to be involved in the production. Before any of this transpired, though, Next departed Interscope for unknown reasons.
In 2006, while still under the G-Unit/Interscope label, the group produced two mixtapes with G-Unit DJ "Whoo Kid," The Moisture Mixtape and The Next Level under the moniker The New Next. Later, a song by Next emerged on YouTube called "Hater In You," which some interperated as a slant on other groups. Huggar, though, claimed that this wasn't true, and that the song was simply an expression of frustration for the politics of the music industry.
In 2006, Next signed to Mathew Knowles' Music World Entertainment label. On April 2, 2007, R.L. revealed on the Frank Ski & Wanda Morning Show on V-103 in Atlanta, that their new album would be entitled Sex Toy. The title has since been changed to Next, Lies, & Videotape. R.L. is also said to be working on his second solo album. Group member Raphael ?Tweety? Brown left the group due to having problems with his bandmate R.L. Huggar.