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R&B
Remembering When ’90s Kid R&B Group Bounced From America To Live In West Africa. Photo: Kevin Woblick on Unsplash

R&B group “The Boys” was a favorite for most teens in the mid-to-late 1980s, belting out chart-topping hits that cemented the four talented Abdulsamad brothers as household names.

The backstory of Khiry, Tajh, Hakim and Bilal Abdulsamad started when they were age 5 to 9 years old. They went on to enjoy success after success until they decided to pack their bags and move to Gambia in West Africa to start a new life.

The Boys delivered hit songs such as “Dial My Heart,” which zoomed to No. 1 on the U.S. R&B chart in the winter of 1988. This success was duplicated with “Lucky Charm” in April 1989 and “Crazy” in the fall of 1990.

For The Boys, entertainment came naturally and they went on to work with the best in the industry including Jheryl Busby, former president and CEO of Motown Records; L.A. Reid, former chairman of Epic Records; and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, ranked among the greatest producers ever. They were courted by MCA and Solar Records.

They released their last album, “The Saga Continues…” in 1992, upgrading their look from oversized pastel suits to oversized mobster suits. It was not as successful as previous albums they dropped.

The Boys blamed their label, Motown, for poor promotion and decided not to re-sign with them.

Unlike the typical story of most boy bands, which end up with infighting and fallouts, the Abdulsamads had a happy ending.

They moved to Gambia in West Africa, learned the native tongue, set up a studio and began recording under a new name — The Suns of Light. The group dropped three albums, Hakim dropped a solo project and Tajh released two of his own.

Why did they move to Gambia?

While everyone knew they were independently managed by their father Jabari Abdulsamad, no one expected The Boys to leave a six-year contract they had just signed with Motown and relocate to the west coast of Africa.

Nobody but insiders knew what happened to the Boys as they seemingly dropped off the face of the earth. Everybody assumed Motown dropped them when actually they dropped Motown.

After eight years of singing and touring, and inspired by Alex Haley’s “Roots“, the boys decided it was time to walk away and “repurpose our lives” by moving to the motherland.

“It all boils down to inspiration,” Tajh said in an interview with Jet Magazine. “With our personal repurposing of our lives and awakening, one of the most valuable things I can say it did for us was increase our capacity in being grateful and understanding the value of the things,”

Some brothers moved back to the U.S. from West Africa

Khiry, the oldest, came back to the U.S. and was last reported living in Los Angeles and working in film and video production, while Tajh moved back to the Atlanta area, where he worked in merchandising.

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Hakim and Bilal remained in Gambia and operated two recording studios there, where they produced themselves and locals.

Will they ever come back?

While the R&B era of The Boys might be long gone, the brothers had plans to produce a new album in 2015 that never materialized, but it’s never too late.

“Individually we’ve done music and I think now it’s time for us to come back together. We’re brothers and we have to put our heads together and create something really wonderful for our fans and share our love of music and art with the world,” Tajh said. “It’s been a lot of growth since 1993 when our last album dropped.”

According to Bilal, the brothers have produced other brands of music including re-jigging Mbalax music, a popular music genre in West Africa, into Boombalax, which mixed hip-hop and Mbalax.

Read more: Stevie Wonder Moving To Ghana: I Don’t Want My Children Begging To Be Liked And Respected In America

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