The members of Mint Condition met as teenagers growing up in the Twin Cities—Minneapolis-St. Paul amidst a thriving music scene energized by Prince, The Time, Jam & Lewis, The Replacements, Soul Asylum and many other artists. Keyboardists Lawrence El and Keri Lewis, guitarist O'Dell, keyboardist/saxophonist Jef, drummer/vocalist Stokley, and bass player Ricky came together in the performing arts program at Central High School. Playing together in different combinations led to them forming Mint Condition; a gig at the famed First Avenue club in 1989 caught the attention of super-producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, formerly of The Time, and they were signed to Jam & Lewis' Perspective Records.
Meant To Be Mint, their debut album, was released in 1991. Their first single, a New Jack Swing-styled number, had only modest success but it was a ballad, "Breakin' My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)," which has become one of the classic R&B ballads of our time, that was their breakthrough, hitting #3 on the R&B charts and #6 on the Pop charts, with the follow-up "Forever In Your Eyes" hitting #7 on R&B charts. Mint Condition was established as a gold-selling act. Further hit singles and albums followed, with "U Send Me Swingin’," "Someone To Love" and "So Fine" all hitting from the From the Mint Factory album, "What Kind Of Man Would I Be" (another acknowledged classic) and "You Don't Have To Hurt No More" from Definition of a Band.
Two decades on, Mint Condition stands along with The Roots as the only high-profile examples of a self-contained, hit-making Black music band, and with Mint's emphasis on songs and great singing, the sole band carrying on the great tradition of R&B funk bands such as Earth, Wind & Fire, The Meters, War, The Commodores, Lakeside, Slave and many more that were an important, progressive element of the black music scene in the Seventies and Eighties. "We're fortunate that people have come to expect us to march to our own drum, musically speaking," says bassist Ricky. And even though we have carved out our own unique creative path, we've always been well embraced."