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The '90s are a musically confused time. Music has become incredibly segmented, more often than not in an exclusionary way. Mint Condition is about inclusion, fusing together multiple musical styles in a way that can please anyone with an open mind. They are loosely grouped with R&B music, but have focused in on a band aesthetic, wanting to get a cohesive, real sound instead of becoming pawns to producers as is the prevailing mood these days.

The band is from Minneapolis/St. Paul where they all met in high school in the early '80s. They boast a sound not heard since Earth, Wind & Fire or Maze, since hip-hop and producer-driven vocal acts became the rage. They play their own instruments, and venture over genre lines, to take bits from all types of good music, pitting the influences of, for instance, Funkadelic against Led Zeppelin to see what kind of fireworks they can come up with. Stokley is the lead singer and drummer, and as often as not ends up stealing the show with his emotive vocal style. O'Dell plays guitar, as does Keri Lewis and Chicagoan Ricky Kinchen. Jeff Allen plays keyboards and saxophone, and Larry Waddell rounds out the group on keys. As with many other R&B acts that have attained some level of success, they've branched out to produce and write for acts like Janet Jackson, Johnny Gill, and the Sounds Of Blackness. They have an eclectic sound but the focus is always on the band and getting a live sound in the studio, and they are brave enough to leave in some of their mistakes instead of just polishing.

Mint Condition continues to expand their horizons, working with more outside artists, and growing their incredible library of musical abilities, challenging the most pigeonholed to wake up to all the possibilities. They have become a cornerstone of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis's Perspective Records, contribute liberally to soundtracks, and should continue to advance their careers.

This Biography was written by Scott Wilson

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