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Song You Need to Know: Kirby, ‘Boyz II Men’

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Kirby laments the immaturity of the opposite sex in “Boyz II Men,” a sharp funk track produced by Spencer Stewart. There’s Jon, “a cutie with a babyface” who “had another woman,” Shawn, who “wasn’t ready for commitment,” and Paul, who “was crazy” and “wouldn’t leave.” “I’m so tired of men acting like boys,” Kirby concludes.

The title of her latest track has a venerable history in R&B. In 1988, the group New Edition closed their blockbuster Heart Break album with “Boys to Men,” a lovely, wounded ballad about the challenges of pursuing an entertainment career as teens. “Who’s protecting us from harm?” Johnny Gill sang. “Is there anyone around that we can trust?”

This song resonated with a young quintet of singers in Philadelphia, who changed their name in honor of New Edition’s track and later earned the support of New Edition member Michael Bivins. Boyz II Men went on to sell millions of albums throughout the 1990s. In 1994’s “Khalil – Interlude,” which was later covered by Drake, Boyz II Men echoed the pained, isolated tone of the song that gave them their name. “I need shelter from the rain,” the group sang, “to ease the pain of changing from boys to men.”

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But maybe the men need to find some of the help they require on their own. Kirby’s track also nods to another R&B classic, Erykah Badu’s “Tyrone,” which starts with one incredible line — “I’m getting tired of your shit” — and builds to an unforgettable kiss-off: “You don’t know how to act/So matter of fact/I think you better call Tyrone/And tell him, come on, help you get your shit.”

Kirby spent years as a high-profile songwriter, earning credits on Ariana Grande’s “Break Your Heart Right Back,” Paul McCartney, Kanye West, and Rihanna’s “FourFiveSeconds,” and Brandy’s “Beggin and Pleadin,” among others. She released her solo debut, Sis., last year.

Find a playlist of all of our recent Songs You Need to Know selections on Spotify.

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