Six syllables, one top track. Montell Jordan's This Is How We Do It was a club classic that sold over 10 million records worldwide - and this is how he did it.
It takes some sort of musical genius to take a simple beat, a few lyrics, and create a masterpiece that still causes involuntary foot tapping. But Montell Jordan did exactly that. However, it wasn't without sheer effort and persistence from the artist that made him a regular at the party.
Thrillz take a trip down memory lane, introducing you to the man that broke through the R&B noise.
Who is Montell Jordan?
Unless you've been living under a rock, this artist was the biggest buzz of the 90s. Envisage a tall 6ft 7 man, donning a baseball cap, low-rise jeans and swagger: Montell Jordan was not only an R&B and Hip-Hop sensation, but also a style icon.
He made his claim to fame with This Is How We Do It and Get It On Tonite, fuelling the music industry's development. Jordan's popularity grew exponentially – and still continues to be somewhat of a legend today.
The Big Breakthrough
Montell Jordan was working a standard 9-5 at Williams Television Time, but the artist never quit on his dreams. He decided to organise a gig, inviting his colleagues to come and watch him perform. As the fates would allow, the surprise guest was none other than Janet Jackson!
It was here where Montell also met record producer Russell Simmons, and as a result, was the second male R&B artist to sign with the label Def Jam. From there, success was as sweet as an overflowing chocolate fountain.
A Rising Star
In 1995, Montell released his debut album and lead single This Is How We Do it. Just those few notes will get the infectious tune stuck in everyone's heads. The song took inspiration from Slim Rick's original sample – who produced the Def Jam hit "Children's Story".
Within the blink of an eye, This Is How We Do It was a smash hit, peaking at Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for eight consecutive weeks. The old school track This Is How We Do It definitely earned its place in the charts; with the music video also reaching over 139 million views on YouTube.
The debut track sold over one million records, achieving Platinum certification. Even today, the song is still so popular that in 2015, top DJ Joe Stone did a cover from the sample called "The Party featuring Montell Jordan".
What is the Song About?
Montell Jordan revealed in an interview with Extra that the song is actually about growing up as a kid in the ghetto and living the street life. Although the artist was born in Los Angeles, he lived in a pretty dangerous neighbourhood, where gang violence was ripe. South Central was also known for the Rodney King riots in 1992, which was an outcry against the acquittal of four police officers who brutally beat up Afro-American, Rodney King.
Jordan told Extra: "there were a lot of people that died. A lot of people that got killed over girls, over drugs, over gangs." He escaped by the skin of his teeth, using his music as a creative outlet and motivation to break out of the rut.
Montell on a Mission
Jordan wanted to contrast the stereotypical and negative image of his hometown with more optimistic songs, singing about hope instead of grief. Whereas similar artists like Snoop Dog frequently portrayed South Central as a bad place. As soon as Jordan became successful, he used his fame and influence to give back to his community and portray it in a more positive way.
Despite the bad rep that South Central had, Montell said in the interview: "I had some good times growing up here. And if people get a chance to see that, then maybe they can see South Central LA as more than just riots and other bad stuff." Jordan stayed humble, still regularly visiting his old home, and became a bit of a Hometown Hero.
Montell Jordan: Get It On Tonite
Shortly after his debut, the artist got straight back to work. Montell released Let's Ride featuring Master P and Silkk the Shocker, which set a precedent for other artists like Snoop Dog, Boyz II Men and Jay Z.
Then came the next banger sampled from Claudja Barry's "Love for the Sake of Love": Get It On Tonite. This track got the Gold certification, also reaching the peak position on the Billboard's US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Even today if you Google 'Get It On Tonite', the song has nearly 1 million views!
Montell made several guest appearances on talk shows, including a surprise appearance on Tamron Hall's Throwback week, featuring a special performance of Get It On Tonite and This Is How We Do It.
What Happened with Def Soul?
In 2003, Montell Jordan left Def Soul as he had issues with his image under the label. He wanted to move beyond the guise of Get It On Tonite and mature as an artist in the industry. At this point, Jordan took control, becoming his own producer. As with any industry, there always seems to be some tension between the management, label and performer.
Instead of succumbing to this trap, Jordan chose to make like Fleetwood Mac and go his own way. Subsequently, he released a very cynical album in tribute to the old days titled: Life After Def.
From Performer to Producer
Montell successfully rose the stakes, becoming a producer and releasing songs sampled from his earlier work. This includes his studio album's singles "Daddy's Home" and "Midnight Interlude." With the freedom to create his own music, Jordan honed his style.
Marriage in the Music Biz
What most people don't know is that Montell Jordan's wife, Kristin Hudson, was his manager for the majority of his career. The couple went through a rough patch, and it was revealed that Montell did cheat on his wife, which led to them writing a book together. The release of their first book: This Is How We Do It! Making Your Marriage A Masterpeace is a testament to marriage and how to make it work.
Kristin and Montell also co-founded the non-profit organization Marriage Masterpeace Inc. which aims to help couples rectify their relationship through God before turning to divorce as a solution.
The Return to Church
Montell keeps a pretty low profile nowadays, although still continues to support other artists as a producer. He is an active member at his local church community Victory World in Georgia, and dubs himself a "born-again Christian".
Although Montell has quit the music industry, he still regularly performs at concerts and opens for gigs with his number one singles Get It On Tonite and This Is How We Do It. The reformed pastor also released an album with Victory World Music titled Masterpeace, available to digitally download on most platforms.
While you're here
Did you know that Montell Jordan is on Thrillz? It's not a prank! You could get your hands on your very own personalised video from Montell in just a quick click. "Get it on tonight" so that you don't miss a beat.