Throwback Single: Montell Jordan 'This Is How We Do It'
Born in LA, Jordan first took to the stage as a child performing in church choirs and talent shows. After graduating from Pepperdine University, Jordan sought to secure a recording contract. He was indeed successful with the help of Paul Stewart and in 1994, signed to Def Jam Records. The singer, songwriter and producer went on to become the label’s most prominent male solo artiste of the era.
Montell Jordan’s debut album ‘This Is How We Do It’ was released in 1995 to a vibrant reception. The album featured an appearance by Coolio on the slamming tune “Payback” and delivered a host of songs at a time when R&B was contending with Hip Hop’s assertiveness and seeking to take things up a notch. Jordan’s signature song, the 1995 title track “This Is How We Do It,” did just that.
The New Jack Swing song with its inviting hook and Slick Rick sample, was an instant success. It reached the number one slot on the Billboard Hot 100 and enjoyed similar success abroad. Jordan’s Grammy nominated debut song represented a positive feel good SoCal attitude as opposed to the Gangsta’ SoCal music of the time, emanating from the West coast. Engaging to an entire generation, the track triumphantly went on to become a party anthem for subsequent generations across the globe. From Pepsi commercials to numerous films, the track has become a part of Popular culture and continues to be sonically referenced seventeen longs years later- a feat in itself.
The accompanying video is memorable for capturing the essence of the Urban ‘90’s. Towering Jordan in his trademark dark shades, a group of dancers à la MTV Grind, scenes of romantic opulence and revelry unfold; as the infectious track motivates listeners to kick back and enjoy life.
I took Montell Jordan’s advice very literally this afternoon. The combination of gorgeous sun-kissed skies in London town and his signature track’s swing beat and oh-so-empowering message, had me consenting to my cousin Jin’s request to take a break and take his spanking new Aston Martin out for a spin. Windows down and bass up, music permeated the jovial air very loudly as my bro and I contended with tinnitus and attempted to discuss music of the glorious ‘90s- Montell Jordan, Keith Sweat, Mary J Blige et al; how the London sound that is Garage, needs a glorious resurrection; and the recent untimely demise of RDB’s pioneering producer Kuly Ral. Though parts of the conversation were inaudible, care of the DB9’s engine and delicious sound system; I reflected on music and its ability to be a panacea and a catalyst. Today's Throwback is a case in point.
Seven albums, worldwide hits with longevity and in particular the gift of a timeless classic that “This Is How We Do It” is, Montell Jordan shall forever be remembered as the stand out Def Jam male solo artiste of the ‘90s who amalgamated the spirit of Rhythm, Blues and Jazz with modern sensibilities; further igniting a global interest in music of black origin that was accessible to all.
In the words of Montell, “Let’s flip the track, bring the old school back.” I took his advice and sincerely hope you do so too. Enjoy!