'No More' Mean Streets For Ruff Endz

Duo overcome upbringing in tough neighborhood to send first single, 'No More,' zooming up singles chart.

New R&B duo Ruff Endz are

emerging as that R&B rarity — a successful male duo.

Their first single, "No More" (RealAudio excerpt), from their debut album, Love Crimes, has leaped from #38 last week to #19 on this week's Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

The duo, Davinch (born David

Chance) and Chi (born Dante

Jordan), both 23, say their group's name and some of their lyrical

content were inspired by their rough experiences growing up on the

mean streets of west Baltimore.

"[That] was basically the spot where everything happens, everything

goes on — a lot of shooting, a lot of people hanging out on the

corner," Chi said.

He and Davinch learned a lot about life from watching the people on

their block, he said.

"We learned a lot of the things that [were] going on, and a lot of the

bad mistakes that people made encouraged us to do just the

opposite."

But while they were sidestepping neighborhood land mines, Chi and

Davinch also were soaking up the songs of

color="#003163">Diane Warren,

color="#003163">Stevie Wonder and

color="#003163">R. Kelly, the songwriters they said

influenced their sound.

Davinch said Ruff Endz strive to "bring the essence of R&B back to

radio — the real soul of it — like the pioneers brought years

ago."

"That's why we took so much time working on this album," he

continued. "We wanted it to be looked at as a great album, and not

just an all right or good album."

Chi said today's trends played a very small part in their musical

direction.

"We're just coming with the music and the knowledge we have of

music — not really looking at what was out there today, not really

looking like we had to compete."

Chi said Ruff Endz's goal was to incorporate their own experiences

into the songs they wrote for the album: "Missing You," "Where Does

Love Go From Here" (RealAudio excerpt), "Apologize," "Saying I

Love You" and "Phone Sex" (RealAudio excerpt).

The duo agreed that those experiences would have been far more

negative if, unlike some of their troubled peers, they had not had an

outlet. But even though their passion for music steered them away

from the temptations of the streets, they were not unaffected by what

was happening around them.

"Somebody was either getting shot and killed, locked up or caught up

in things we didn't have no control over," Davinch said, acknowledging

that those incidents slowed their pursuit of a record deal. But the duo

knew music was their salvation, and they remained undaunted.

"Combined with my faith and Davinch's faith, we had to make it," Chi

said. "That's what was set in our minds. There wasn't nothing else for

us, basically. We were like, 'This is the life for us, this is our way, this

is our role, no matter how it is.' We wasn't going nowhere. We was

destined to be here."