Gerald Levert was one of the premiere artists in 1980s-1990s R&B. And in the 11 years since his death, he still looms large as one of the definitive artists of his era.
The son of O'Jay's legend Eddie Levert, Gerald came to the fore in the mid-1980s as frontman of his group Levert. Alongside his brother Sean and cousin Marc Gordon, he churned out Levert hits like "Pop, Pop, Pop Goes My Mind" and "Casanova" before breaking out in the 1990s as a solo artist. Levert was one of the hardest-working men in R&B, maintaining a steady career in Levert and as a solo artist while also writing and producing for a host of other artists.
Gerald Levert's legacy as a songwriter and producer gets grossly overlooked. So to celebrate that aspect of his legacy, we decided to list our favorite Gerald Levert-penned songs.
Troop was one of the most consistent acts in new jack swing, and one of the reasons for that consistency was Gerald Levert. He co-produced some songs for the group, and penned this classic dance track, as well as the 1990 hit single "That's My Attitude."
"How Do You Like Your Love Served" (1996)New Edition
New Edition's 1996 reunion album was a major success, and though this track wasn't a single, it's one of the better songs on the album. A smoky quiet storm ballad, it serves as a highlight for vocalist Johnny Gill--and is a primer for Levert and Gill's work in LSG a year later.
"This Little Game We Play" (1995)Subway w/702
Before 702 broke big with "Steelo" in 1996, they experienced their first taste of success with this hit collaboration with Chicago-based quartet Subway. The kind of steamy come-ons that Levert did so well, the sexual song raised some eyebrows--considering the singers were all teenagers.
"Written All Over Your Face" (1991)The Rude Boys
After making a name for himself, Gerald Levert was committed to pulling up other acts from his hometown of Cleveland. One of those acts was the Rude Boys, who hit it big with this Top 25 Billboard hit that featured a prominent guest appearance from the man himself.
"Games" 1992Chuckii Booker
Chuckii Booker is one of the more underrated artists of the new jack swing era. An accomplished singer/songwriter/producer/instrumentalist, Booker scored a bonafide quiet storm classic with this gem co-written by Levert.
"So Alone" (1992)Men At Large
One of the weepiest R&B ballads of the 1990s, this underrated track was fairly inescapable on urban radio in 1992. An ode to loved ones lost, it was penned for Men A Large, a duo that was also out of Cleveland and made some noise briefly circa 1992-93.
"Practice What You Preach" (1994)Barry White
70s soul legend Barry White scored a significant comeback in 1994 with his album The Icon Is Love. A big reason for it's success was this No. 1 single, penned by Gerald Levert. Yet another bedroom jam, it features White's always-distinctive vocals and the infamous refrain of "Aw, you just keep..." that became a late career trademark.
"I Wanna Come Back" (1989)James Ingram
Ingram had been a fixture in adult contemporary and quiet storm, but by 1989, he needed to update his sound to stay with the changing times. So he tapped some new jack maestros to give him some up-to-date edge--including Levert and Marc Gordon, who provided him with this underrated cut.
A smooth groove that Gerald gave to a woman who meant a lot to him throughout his life and career, "Crazy" is one of Miki Howard's best album cuts. The sound epitomizes the kind of "grown & sexy" groove few could do better than Gerald Levert. You can even hear him on the backing vocals.
"Whatever It Takes" (1990)Anita Baker
The sultry songbird was in the midst of a serious hot streak when she released 1990s Compositions. And she worked with Levert and Marc Gordon on this lovely, piano driven number about doing all she can to let her lover know how she feels.