The Philadelphia quartet, Boyz II Men also seen as Boyz 2 Men, Boys II Men and Boys 2 Men, formed at the High School of the Creative and Performing Arts in 1988. It started as just Nathan Morris and Marc Nelson, who then recruited Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman and Michael McCary to their cause. Performing as Unique Attraction, the group did not go by their current name until hearing the song 'Boys To Men' by New Edition, one of the groups inspirations.
They finally had their chance to record after performing an a capella version of 'Can You Stand The Rain' for Bel Biv DeVoe leader Michael Bivins. Bivins got the group on Motown Records but not before Marc Nelson left due to personality conflicts. They made their recording debut in 1990 doing background vocals for Robbie Mychals on the song "One Mile From Paradise."
Boyz II Men's first album together, Cooleyhighharmony was released in 1991 and had a heavy new jack swing sound. The group had a smooth sound and called their style 'hip hop doo wop.' The album's first single, Motownphilly featured Michael Bivins and reached #3 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the R&B charts. The album's second single, 'It's So Hard To Say Goodbye,' had similar success, topping the R&B charts and reaching #2 on the Hot 100. The album did well with its other singles as well, with 'Uhh Ahh' topping the R&B charts, 'In the Still of the Nite,' reaching #3 on the Hot 100, and 'Please Don't Go' reaching #8 on the R&B charts. The album was a huge success, selling over nine million copies.
The group became known for swapping solo's on songs, avoiding the common trend in groups to have one dominant lead. To help market themselves, with Michael Bivins help, the guys took on nicknames. Wanya went by "Squirt," Shawn went by "Slim," Michael went by "Bass," and Nathan interestingly went by "Alex Vanderpool."
In 1992, Boyz II Men had its first #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 when they recorded the single 'End of the Road' for the Boomerang soundtrack. This single was #1 for thirteen weeks, breaking the previous record and was added to Cooleyhighharmony on a reissue.
The most popular album by Boyz II Men, was released in 1994 and was called II. The album featured production by hit-makers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and Babyface. It included the #1 singles 'On Bended Knee' (by Jam and Lewis) and 'I'll Make Love To You' and the #2 hit single, 'Water Runs Dry,' (both by Babyface). 'I'll Make Love to You' broke the record set by 'End of the Road,' spending 14 weeks at #1 (also done by Whitney Houston earlier that year). Boyz II Men was also one of only three groups to replace themselves at #1 on the charts, in a high class group alongside Elvis and The Beatles, when 'On Bended Knee,' replaced 'I'll Make Love to You.' While the feat has since been done several more times, it is still a tremendous achievement. The album was huge, selling over 12 million copies.
In 1995, the group broke the chart records again, collaborating with Mariah Carey on the song 'One Sweet Day.' The song was at #1 for sixteen weeks.
Conflicts arose then between Motown and the Boyz as Motown put out The Remix Collection against Boyz II Men's wishes. When the group released their third album 'Evolution' tensions were high. The album featured the group's last #1 hit, the Jam and Lewis penned 'Four Seasons of Loneliness' and sold three million copies. The album's second single, 'A Song For Mama' topped the R&B charts and reached #7 on the Hot 100.
In 1999, Motown was acquired by Universal Records and Boyz II Men was reassigned under the new label. On Universal, the group tried their efforts at writing and producing their own album. The result came out in 2000 and was Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya. While the album was a critical success, it sold only 500,000 copies, continuing the group's dropping popularity. Adding to the trouble, Michael McCary was diagnosed with scoliosis, forcing him to sit on a stool while his groupmates danced at performances. The album had two singles, 'Thank You In Advance,' and 'Pass You By' which reached #40 and #27 on the R&B charts respectively.
Boyz II Men moved to Arista in 2002 where they recorded a new album, Full Circle. Babyface penned the group's lead single 'Color of Love' and a video was shot around the world to accompany the track. Despite the efforts, 'Color of Love' peaked at #51 on the R&B charts, and the album's second single, 'Relax Your Mind' peaked at #52. The album matched the group's previous effort's success, selling just over 500,000 copies. However, it was the group's last effort as a quartet as Michael left the group due to his continued back problems.
In 2004, the group released Throwback on their own independent label. The album featured a collection of covers and the group mentioned plans to do future albums of the same style. From the album, the single 'What You Won't Do For Love' reached #60 on the R&B charts.
The group has also released an album exclusively in Japan, called Winter/Reflections in 2005. They then released an album The Remedy which featured the single 'Muzak.' It was released solely through the group's website in all regions except Japan (where it had been released in 2006) starting in 2007.
In 2007, Boyz II Men returned to Universal where they released a new album, Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA. The album contains covers of tracks by various artists in Motown's history, and included songs like 'Just My Imagination,' and 'Ribbon in the Sky.' The album scored a charting single with 'Track of My Tears' which reached #25 on the Adult Contemporary charts.