Formed in the early '80s in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Mint Condition began as lead singer Stokley Williams, guitarist Homer O'Dell, keyboardist Larry Waddell, keyboardist/saxophonist Jeff Allen, keyboardist/guitarist Keri Lewis, and guitarist/bassist Rick Kinchen. The six talented musicians combined a variety of influences and experiences to shape their own sound. Williams began playing classic West African instruments at the age of four, while O'Dell grew up listening to his father play blues bass and singing with him in a family group. Waddell played in a recording arts band at school and mastered keyboards by listening to jazz greats Oscar Peterson and Herbie Hancock. Exposed to his father's extensive jazz collection, Allen played keyboards and sax in local bands throughout his high school years, as Lewis was mastering keyboards, percussion, and guitar while attending school. Kinchen's first and strongest influence was his family, all of whom played instruments and encouraged his interest in music. He developed his skills as a bass player by listening to records by Stanley Clarke and Louis Johnson of the Brothers Johnson. Kinchen played in various bands in his native Chicago and performed at several productions at Kennedy-King College before moving to the Twin Cities.