VIBE Lineage is an interview series with the heirs of Black excellence. Now that their legendary predecessors have gained high regards in their own right, these younger kin are blazing their own trails.
Remember when you first heard Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” or New Edition’s “Candy Girl” or Boyz II Men’s “Motownphilly?” How about Jodeci’s “Come And Talk To Me?” or B2K’s “Uh Huh?” Regardless of which boy band era swept you off your feet with their swooning looks, serenading vocals, and infectious talent, a new quartet is here to restore the feeling.
WanMor—composed of Big Boy, 18, Chulo, 17, Tyvas, 16, and Rocco, 12—happen to be the sons of Boyz II Men founding member Wanyá Morris. However, don’t assume this is a standard case of nepotism. These young men are more than their namesake. They are charming, talented, and humble—a proven recipe for success—while intentionally distinguishing themselves from their father. Though there’s no mentioning WanMor without Wanyá, the group is “adamant” about etching their own narrative, and will stop you in your tracks in doing so.
They’re the first signees under Mary J. Blige’s new label, Beautiful Life Productions—a 300 Entertainment imprint. The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul’s cosign was enough to assert themselves in the ranks. “When we heard WanMor sing, we knew we could stop looking. They are IT! Supporting and cultivating true R&B talent is why I started Beautiful Life Productions, and I couldn’t be more proud to do this with these young men,” she explained.
For the boys, she’s more than their mentor; she’s “Auntie Mary” who reminds them about the importance of listening to their mom and remembering to have fun.
On a lively Zoom call, they adorably introduced themselves in unison. Each of them had massive grins plastered across their faces. Though admittedly excited to talk, it’s clear they’re media-trained despite their ages and newfound prominence. Big Boy pointed out that their upbringing was consumed by “lots of singing,” as with them studying their roots in old school R&B. Inspired by New Edition’s “Can You Stand The Rain,” Troop’s “All I Do Is Think Of You,” and Mint Condition’s “Forever In Your Eyes,” their debut eponymous EP paints elements of their maturation from boys to young men through playfulness, wholesome exploration, and young love.
In spite of comparisons to their predecessors a la B5 and B2K, WanMor is evidently carving out their own lane. Their nod to the past with a cover of Switch’s “I Call Your Name” was the perfect touch to display their vast musical knowledge. According to 300 Entertainment’s Kevin Liles, he felt the group was “what we have been missing in music.” Plus, they currently have no direct competitors as R&B boy bands remain obsolete (and no, men nearing 40 who form a group to maintain a viral momentum don’t count).
Enjoy this delightful chat with the new kids on R&B’s block bringing innocence and mystique back into the genre’s nest. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
VIBE: What made you guys want to come together and start a group?
Chulo: Oh, man.
Big Boy: We started singing at our birthday parties. At [my] 12th birthday party, our mom was like, “Yo, y’all should sing. Put on a show.” And we were like, “All right. I guess.” We ended up singing “Can You Stand the Rain.” That was our first performance as brothers.
C: Ever since, mom’s been taking us to a vocal coach. Making us work real hard, and since we found out that we love to do that, it was easy to really take that constructive criticism she gives us.
What do each of you bring to WanMor to make it the sensation that it is?
Rocco: Well, I know I bring the energy.
Chulo: We call him the firecracker [but] he [pointing at Tyvas] is very smooth with his voice.
Big Boy: Yo, you got that voice, man.
Don’t be shy now.
Tyvas: I’m not shy!
Chulo: Not going to lie, man. You actin’ kinda shy right now.
Big Boy: Come on! He said, “Hold up. Let him cook.”
Chulo: I’ll say I give off that cool vibe. They can’t really mess with me. I get all the ladies. They jealous of me, but it’s okay.
Rocco: Oh my God.
C: He’s the leader. [pointing at Big Boy]
BB: Yeah, I got to keep them in check.
It’s such a good balance between you guys. So what would you say separates you from your other male R&B contemporaries right now?
Big Boy: I would say it’s our bond. The fact that we’re all brothers. We can all sing. It’s a lot easier than a group that’s separate from different families, and they’re coming together. We already know each other’s voices like the back of our hand because we hear them all the time in this house. So, I would definitely say it’s our bond.
Would you say it’s hard working together as siblings?
Big Boy: Yes and no.
Chulo: It’s like, bittersweet.
BB: I’m the leader of the group, but they look at me as brothers. So they sometimes think what I’m saying is a joke sometimes, but I’ll be like, ‘Hey man, please listen to me. I’m trying to help.’ You know what I mean? It’s the same all around. Sometimes I take him as a joke. I mean all the time.
Rocco: Yeah, they think I’m the most annoying one in the group—
BB: Which you are.
R: I don’t listen, but this dude, it’s this dude [pointing at Big Boy].
BB: Whoa, that’s crazy.
Who is someone that you’re hoping to work with in the future?
Rocco: SZA and H.E.R.
Chulo: He said it a little too fast. (laughs)
Big Boy: Dang, son.
He was thinking about that for a while. I can tell.
Rocco: Because H.E.R.’s voice. That would be lit.
Tyvas: Mine would be Rihanna. I think her voice is pretty.
Big Boy: They’re talking about celebrity crushes.
T: No. No, that’s not the reason why.
Chulo: I’m going to go with some guys here. I’m going to say Chris Brown—
T: Bruno Mars.
C: Even Masego.
BB: For me, I really would love to do a song with Usher. Because I love those hardcore vocalists.
C: Oh, even Charlie Wilson.
Bridge that gap between old and new school.
Big Boy: Yeah, definitely.
Overall, what do you want fans to take away from your group?
Chulo: We just really want them to know we are positive, and we really love the support. We just want them to know that good music and music with no vulgarity, family-friendly and positive music is coming.