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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Mtume (pronounced em-tu-may) was a funk and soul group that had several R&B hits in the 1980s. Its founder, percussionist James Mtume, previously played with Miles Davis in the 1970s. Other members of the group included Reggie Lucas and Tawatha Agee.



Mtume recorded three albums on the independent label Third Street Records: Kawaida (1973); Alkebu-Lan (1975); and Rebirth Cycle (1977). Not finding pop or R&B chart success, they signed to major label Epic Records in 1978, releasing the albums Kiss This World Goodbye (1978), and In Search of the Rainbow Seekers (1980), which found modest success on the R&B chart. Their 1982 album Juicy Fruit, however, provided Mtume with its biggest hit, when the title song reached number one for eight weeks on the U.S. R&B chart. "Juicy Fruit" would later be sampled for the Notorious B.I.G song "Juicy", from his 1994 album Ready to Die, as well as the 2004 "Be Your Girl" remix by Teedra Moses and Raphael Saadiq. In 2007 it was sampled for Keyshia Cole's single "Let It Go", which also topped the U.S. R&B chart.

Mtume's 1984 album You, Me, and He had a #2 R&B hit with the album's title song. Their final R&B Top Ten hit was "Breathless" (1986) from their final album Theater of the Mind. They recorded with Epic Records until the late 1980s. Group member Agee went solo in 1987.

Other Success

The group produced several songs for artists such as Stephanie Mills, Roberta Flack, Lou Rawls, Phyllis Hyman, and Donny Hathaway in the late 1970s and early 1980s, including the Grammy winning single "Never Knew Love Like This Before" from Mills. James Mtume also produced Roy Ayers, and the Bar-Kays,a nd composed the music and theme tune for the 1990s television police drama, New York Undercover.

Reggie Lucas (along with Jellybean Benitez) produced the majority of Madonna's first album, Madonna, including the songs "Borderline" and "Lucky Star".

James Mtume is the son of saxophonist Jimmy Heath. James Mtume was a percussionist with Miles Davis from 1971 to 1975.


Template:Col-2 The 1978–80 line-up was:
  • James Mtume (vocals, percussion, keyboards)
  • Hubert Eaves III (keyboards)
  • Tawatha Agee (vocals)
  • Reggie Lucas (guitars)
  • Basil Fearington (bass)
  • Howard King (drums)
Template:Col-2 The 1982–86 line-up was:
  • James Mtume (vocals, keyboards)
  • Tawatha Agee (vocals)
  • Raymond Jackson (bass)
  • Philip Field (keyboards)
  • Ed "Tree" Moore (guitars)
  • Leslie Ming (drums)



  • Rebirth Cycle (1977)
  • Kiss This World Goodbye (1978)
  • In Search of the Rainbow Seekers (1980)
  • Juicy Fruit (1983)
  • You, Me and He (1984)
  • Theater of the Mind (1986)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Mtume" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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