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 (better known by his stage
name RL), brothers Terry Brown 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,, 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" 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 second 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" (Raj Saund) 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.
 Current activity
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
and will be released early next year. 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
and wanting to become more spiritual and serve the Lord. They later
made up but decided to pursue a solo career. The new album set to
be released sometime in 2011 will feature R.L., T-Low, & new
member Deponce. The title Next Lies & Videotape has been changed
to Ninety Seven.
Year Album Chart positions Certifications Sales
US US R&B CAN
1997 Rated Next 37 13 20 US: 2x Platinum US: 2,000,000+
2000 Welcome II Nextasy 12 4 — US: Gold US: 500,000+
2002 The Next Episode 120 27 —
2011 Ninety Seven TBA TBA TBA
Year Title Chart positions Album
US US R&B US Pop UK
1997 "Butta Love" 16 4 — — Rated Next
1998 "Too Close" 1 1 5 24
I Still Love You" 14 4 — —
2000 "Wifey" 7 1 40 19 Welcome II Nextasy
Beauty Queen" — 48 — —
2002 "Imagine That" — 66 — — The Next
 Awards and nominations
* American Music Awards
o 1999, Favorite Soul/R&B Band, Duo or Group: (Nominated)
o 1999, Favorite New Soul/R&B New Artist: (Nominated)
* Soul Train Awards
o 2001, Best R&B/Soul Album by a Band, Duo or Group: Welcome II Nextasy
o 1999, Best R&B/Soul Single by a Band, Duo or Group: "Too Close" (Winner)