112 Too Comfortable, Too Fat? Not Anymore

Group drops pounds, plots comeback after catching a brick with Hot & Wet.

Instead of naming their last LP Hot & Wet, perhaps 112 should have considered calling it Comfortable and Fat. The group has acknowledged that it caught a brick on its fourth album, and the guys only blame themselves.

"We had to revamp things," Mike, who also noted that fans and critics were saying the group looked overweight a couple of years ago, fessed up recently in New York. "A lot of people won't talk about hits and misses and mediocrity, but y'all seen us grow up and we feel y'all know us. So it's not a problem for us to talk about it. The fourth album wasn't exactly what we expected as far the response and overall love. We'll admit we got that big check [from Def Jam] and lost focus. We had a minor setback. The glorious thing about a group the caliber of 112, we have history."

112 are hoping that people will forget the blemish left on their record by Hot & Wet once their new LP, Pleasure and Pain, hits. Before they came back up to the surface, they went to the gym — Mike dropped 40 pounds, Q and Slim 20 apiece, and Daron 30. Then it was time to regroup in the studio. No more luxurious recording facilities in Nashville — they went back to basics in a quaint ATL lab ("It was a lobby and a studio, literally," Mike said).

"We got back in the lab and got our focus back," Mike said. "Daron's production is better than ever. 112's singing is better than ever. I'll stop singing if this isn't the greatest representation of 112."

The Atlanta collective are representing for their power of coercion on "U Already Know." The first verse on the record, which was co-written by Sean Garrett ("Yeah!" "Goodies," "Lose My Breath"), talks about the joy of sex with a girl; the second verse talks about the joy of sex with your girl and her girl.

"We got five albums under our belts," Mike began to explain. "The first one, we was kids. That's all we could talk about, 'Only You.' As we got older, our music got older, we're still keeping it sexy, but we gotta go another step up. This record is a result of that. We was like, 'Let's try it. Let's see what happens.' The response is ridiculous. At first, [people who heard the record initially] was like, '112, y'all coming with some real ill lyrics,' but overall, we gotta do us and what makes 112 happy. Let's cause a little controversy."

There's no hullabaloo at 112's record label, Def Jam — the execs are strongly behind them.

"That's a good mesh right there," Slim said of the group's relationship with the top brass. L.A. Reid, we're very family with him. The first three albums we did was on Arista when he was running Arista. Then with the addition of Jay-Z, that's the cherry on top. [Jay] has the attitude like, 'I can't lose.' That's what he said. I talked to Jay and he was like, 'I understand y'all, 'cause I watched y'all grow. It's gonna feel real good to do this. This is y'all's year."

Jay-Z, T.I. and Foxy Brown are among the collaborators on Pleasure and Pain, which is scheduled to be released on March 29.