Boyz II Men’s album ‘II’ turns 30 this year — now’s a good time to admit that for decades, I thought Nathan and Wanya Morris were brothers

OPINION: Two of Boyz II Men’s singers share the last name Morris so I just assumed they were brothers. In 2020, I found out that wasn’t true. 

Boyz II Men perform at the 2009 Soul Train Awards at the Georgia World Congress Center on November 3, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Y’all, 1994 was an insane year for Black music. Album releases from vaunted hip-hop and R&B singers and groups all happened that year, especially towards the end of the year. Albums like Mary J. Blige’s “My Life,” TLC’s “CrazySexyCool,” Nas’ “Illmatic,” and Warren G’s “Regulate…The G Funk Era,” among what feels like a billion others, will all probably get some kind of 30-year anniversary treatment, if not from me, then from the myriad other music writers out in the world. 

One of those albums worthy of note will be Boyz II Men’s sophomore album, “II,” which contained Billboard No. 1 songs “I’ll Make Love to You” and “On Bended Knee” as well as hit singles “Water Runs Dry” and “Thank You” and a song I didn’t know what to do with at the time, “50 Candles.” If you were listening to music in 1994, you absolutely heard “I’ll Make Love to You” ad nauseam. You remember the video starring Duane Martin and Tara Hall. You remember wondering why the whole video was slightly blurry, but it didn’t matter because the song was such a jam that nothing mattered. You also probably wanted that stationery paper set that Duane Martin was writing the letter on because it looked burned just right at the edges. What a time to be alive. 

Anywho, when this album turns 30 years old — August 30, 2024 — the retrospectives will be aplenty. It’s another of those albums that is entirely known for its slow jams (a la Jodeci’s “Forever My Lady” and “Diary of a Mad Band”); short of “Thank You,” I had to look up the name of the rest of the songs on the top half of the album. I couldn’t hum a bar from “U Know” or “I Sit Away” if my life depended on it. 

We’re a few months away from hopefully hearing cars bump “I’ll Make Love to You” like 1994, so I’ll save my full album commentary until then, but now is a good time for me to share a Blackfession. Blackfessions are, ya know, confessions about your Blackness. Something people would be surprised to know about you … because you’re Black. 

Here’s mine: For nearly 30 years, I thought Nathan and Wanya Morris were brothers. Like, in real life. Not in the homie way. 


Let me tell you how substantial that discovery was for me: I literally remember where I was when I learned that fact. I was driving on I-495 in Maryland, between the exits for St. Barnabas Road and Branch Avenue. I was listening to a 2020 episode of “Questlove Supreme,” a podcast hosted by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and a rotating cast of mainstays who are all so accomplished in their own rights it’s almost not fair to have that much musical knowledge on one show. 

Obviously, “Boyz II Men” were the guests and talking about their individual upbringings, and I was so confused to hear that Nathan and Wanya grew up on different sides of Philadelphia (if memory serves correctly) and had seemingly different lives, since, ya know they were brothers. In my head, I was like, “Wow, it’s so crazy that two brothers in the group had such vastly different experiences. I feel like this should have been a bigger part of the Boyz II Men story!” The more I listened the more confused I became — how in the world could these two speak about their separate lives so freely? There must be some trauma somewhere from this. I don’t know exactly what was said that made me realize that they weren’t even related. I think it was each of them speaking about their respective families, and it became clear that despite sharing the same last name, they weren’t related. 

I pulled off the highway, fired up my laptop at a gas station, googled “Nathan Wanya Morris brothers” and saw that even Wikipedia knew they weren’t brothers. I felt as if I’d been hoodwinked … bamboozled … led astray … run amuck. Was it possible that I was the only Black person that didn’t know they weren’t brothers? There aren’t even a ton of conspiracy theories about them really being brothers and the ’90s were a time chock full of conspiracy theories. 

I went to Facebook with this admission and shared this thing that might be embarrassing. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone in this newfound knowledge. Several commentators learned that they were neither brothers nor related from my post. To be clear, a lot of people did know they weren’t related. 

Le sigh.

Anyway, J. Cole is out here apologizing for engaging in rap beefs so it’s only right that I be vulnerable as well. 

Thank you for listening; I really needed to get that off my chest. 

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things, drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest), but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said: “Unknown” (Blackest).

Make sure you check out the Dear Culture podcast every Thursday on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, where I’ll be hosting some of the Blackest conversations known to humankind. You might not leave the convo with an afro, but you’ll definitely be looking for your Afro Sheen! Listen to Dear Culture on TheGrio’s app; download it here.