Whatever Happened to: Montell Jordan

I’m sure the dream of every emerging artist is to drop a smash single right out of the gate. You know what they say about first impressions – they go a long way.

But when you think about it, an immediate monster hit could be detrimental. The new artist will spend his or her entire career trying to duplicate the success of that initial effort. And when they don’t surpass that first hit, they slapped with the dreaded “one-hit wonder” label.

I bet Montell Jordan can relate. Quick, name three Montell Jordan songs – and “This Is How We Do It” doesn’t count.

I knew you couldn’t do it.

Poor Montell never escaped the shadow of “This Is How We Do It,” despite strong songwriting credits (remember “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” and “Incomplete?”) and a handful of overlooked hits. Let’s look back at Montell’s forgotten career.

If you weren’t around in 1995, I can’t possibly explain how explosive Montell’s first single was. “This Is How We Do It” ranks up there with the all-time great party jams. No lie – even my grandma loved this song. Has anyone flash-mobbed to this song? Imagine standing in Target, someone yells “This is how we do iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit” and 75 dudes run up on you and start crumping?

Scratch that – that’s a recipe for a heart attack.

The single catapulted Montell’s debut, also named This Is How We Do It, to No. 12 on charts and it soon reached platinum status.

After “This Is How We Do It” died down, our memories of Montell get kinda hazy. But he was far from through.

He followed up his big hit with the guilty pleasure “Somethin’ 4 Da Honeyz.” The video was absolutely ridiculous (watch the glee on his face as he flashes his pitiful flip cell phone) but the song did well, peaking at No. 21 on Billboard. His third single, “Daddy’s Home”, won’t win you over with strong vocals (dude sounds kinda tipsy, actually) but it’s still a heartfelt tribute to his young son.

Montell wasted no time recording a follow-up. More… was released a year after his debut and featured “I Like,” which also showed up on The Nutty Professor Soundtrack. “I Like” featured Slick Rick, fresh from his jail stint (back when jail stints were a big deal). You know, I always thought “I Like” sounded suspiciously like 112’s “Only You,” which sorta sounded like The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Respect,” which definitely sounded like Diana King’s  “Shy Guy.” There wasn’t much originality in the 90s.

Anyway, back to Montell. “I Like” didn’t set the world on fire, but he fared better with Flesh-N-Bone on “Falling” and the wifey’s favorite, “What’s On Tonight.” Both went gold, as did the album.

In the blink of an eye, Montell was back in 1998 with Let’s Ride. The title track featured Master P and Silkk Da Shocker – the 1998 version of Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka. Silkk Da Shocker possess the uncanny ability to NEVER rap on beat. He had it down to a science. Suffice to say, I wasn’t a fan but the song hit No. 2 on the charts, Montell’s biggest hit since you know what. I barely remember the second single, “I Can Do That,” but it did well, too – reaching No. 14, and again, Montell racked up another gold album.

The very next year, Montell returned with Get it On…Tonite. Did this dude ever sleep? The title track was yet another hit, peaking at No. 4 on the charts. But again, I have to cry foul – “Get It On Tonite” sounds MIGHTY similar to Da Brat’s “What’chu Like.” Who knew Montell was jackin’ beats? Or maybe he’s the victim and everyone steals his stuff? Hmmmm…

Montell finally took a breather before dropping his self-titled fifth album in 2002. He probably took time off to get back child support from Diddy – he looks exactly like one of Puffy’s spawn on this album cover.

The only thing of note I remember from the album was “You Must Have Been,” which was in heavy rotation during the heyday of BET’s Midnight Love. The song and video were pretty forgettable, except for the chain mail wife beater he wore. I guess that’s what the thugs wore in King Arthur’s court. This poor album didn’t even chart.

Montell still wasn’t through, returning the next year for Life After Def, his first album after his release from Def Jam/Def Soul Records. I remember thinking the album title was brilliant (yeah, doesn’t take much to impress me sometimes) and I really liked his single, “Supa Star.” Maybe that’s because he stole YET ANOTHER beat – this time, Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit.” That beat has been passed around more than a blunt at a Wiz Khalifa show – or  passed around more than Wiz’s girlfriend Amber Rose. Whichever you prefer.

Five years later, Montell tried his luck again with Let It Rain. Honestly, I don’t remember this album at all, but I do recall “Me and U” and “Not No More” – both were decent if you overlook the awkward lyrics and the Beyonce clone, respectively.

As you can see, if you didn’t give up on reading this exhaustive post, Montell did relatively well for himself after his first hit. You can call the dude a lot of things (a beat jacker, for starters) but you can’t call him a one-hit wonder.

Should He Come Back?: According the always reliable and never inaccurate Wikipedia, Montell has moved on to ministry. That’s probably for the best. He’s had a long and relatively successful career. He’ll never shake the label of This Is How We Do It Guy, but when a song is that awesome, it’s probably best to just embrace it.


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