whitney houston

Darkchild’s Many Productions, Ranked In Terms Of Genius

Everything is subjective, of course. But your opinion is wrong.

You know who Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins is.

Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

He’s the guy behind some of the greatest songs you’ve ever danced to. He’s a super-producer, a talented musician and songwriter, and a blessing to the world, most recently winning a Grammy for his work on Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me”.

Here is an important — and unarguable — ranking of his best work.

19. Telephone РLady Gaga Ft. Beyonc̩

Bombast and pyrotechnics, this. But the chorus is fire, and the entire Bey feature is a jam all on its own.

It’ll do.

18. Feedback – Janet Jackson

Yes, this goes hard. But there’s something missing from this for me. It just sounds a little cold, even with the divine Ms Jackson doing her thing over the skittery beat.

I’d dance to it in a club, though.

17. I Can Love You – Mary J. Blige Ft. Lil’ Kim

This earlyish Darkchild (1997!) is just the easiest track to nod along to, so effortless.

Mary J’s keening vocals (at one point she modestly tells the object of her affection: “I can love you/a little better than she can,” which is quietly heartbreaking) are the perfect accompaniment to the simple groove. It sounds both completely of its time, but also timeless.

Shoutout to Lil’ Kim’s verse, too (with its gentle reference to Biggie).

16. Holler – Spice Girls

This late Spice Girls single (minus Geri, and before the Grand Hiatus) really works, but that’s not because of the especially great vocals (Mel C excepted). In fact, Mel B’s adlibs almost kill it.

But it’s catchy as hell, and so danceable.

15. Revolution – Kirk Franklin

Political gospel? Why the heck not?

Darkchild can do anything.

14. Cater 2 U – Destiny’s Child

Dodgy lyrics aside (“My life would be purposeless without you,” Bey sings in the opening verse, earning a sharp side-eye), this is a flawlessly produced slow jam with one of the most laidback and romantic grooves Darkchild’s ever made. There’s no beating Passionate Bey on vocals, and she’s out here in force.

13. If You Had My Love – Jennifer Lopez

Here’s how you know Jennifer Lopez was not playing around: This was the debut single on her debut album. So casual.

The lyrics are not the strongest, and it’s not even the best ever J-Lo vocal offering (that’s a list for another day) but it is a mid-tempo silky jam, and catchy as hell, so it’s easy to forgive its flaws.

Perfect to sing with one hand on your heart, in the mirror.

12. Say My Name – Destiny’s Child

If Drake is sampling you almost 15 years later, chances are you did something extremely right. This track is unnaturally right.

It’s the mixed-upness of “Say My Name” (perfectly telegraphing the up-and-down play of the lyrics: are you cheating or nah?) that make it a straight up banger. And the production is so tight and sure of what its doing, it steals your attention away from the fact that the band recently changed lineup, and this is the video in which you meet Farrah and Michelle for the first time. Plus! The break – “yea, yea, yea yea” – is poetry is song. A stone cold classic.

PS: shoutout to the most iconic Darkchild tag of them all: “Darkchild nine-nine”.

11. Déjà Vu – Beyoncé

“Bass…Hi-hat…Jay” It’s the classiest of openings, isn’t it?

On an album as jam-packed with bangers as B’Day, Déjà Vu is for me, one of the finest Bey singles ever produced. Darkchild went BIG on this, throwing everything at Beyoncé, who brought in some magic of her own. The high energy is infectious, and gives the feeling of having been a blast to record.

Big vocals, big production, big tune.

10. Can’t Leave ‘Em Alone – Ciara Ft. 50 Cent

This is not one of Ciara’s best-known, but it should be.

Darkchild gives her a classic handclap beat, plus the twinkliest of R&B accents. They are the perfect accompaniments for Ciara’s whispery soft vocals. “I can’t leave ‘em alone/I tried that good boy game/But the dope boy’s turning me on,” she sings like a lovefool. And then 50 Cent shores it up with bars like: “My intentions are good/I can’t help it, I’m hood/I wouldn’t change if I could/you shouldn’t tell me I should.” So at least they’re well-matched.

So fresh, it sounds like summer.

9. I’m Good – Blaque

This 2004 banger was too good to soundtrack a film as terribly bland as Honey (which, full disclosure: I saw at the cinema). Side note: There is a depressing number of now-defunct black girl groups from the mid-2000s.

This is low key girl empowerment (“I don’t like what you’re kickin’ son/ now leave,” they dismiss some unworthy creature), wrapped up in Darkchild’s beat wonderland. And the hype tag on this one is an idiosyncratic “Darkchizzle!” Which is fun.

8. You Rock My World – Michael Jackson

I was full of trepidation when they announced a new MJ record. What I loved of his music was either my age or older than me, and I worried. But then I heard this, and realised my own foolishness. How could Darkchild fail with MJ?

This is so smooth! The once sweet voice sounds as fresh as it ever did, and Darkchild’s production is sympathetic to MJ’s legacy, with lovely harmonies in the chorus.

Shoutout to MJ’s last great single.

7. Don’t Wanna Be A Player – Joe

I know it can’t be true, but this feels like this is the only thing I listened to in 1997.

The vocoder intros us to what would become the R&B love song to beat for the next 15 years, when Joe’s smooth and slightly nasal crooning takes over. “I think I’ve found someone I could live my life for, “ he sings, “I’m giving up the booty calls”. Only if you’re sure, mate.

And even though people don’t belong to people – and you know this – you sing along, sighing, when Joe finishes the hook with: “I’m yours, you’re mine for sure”. Aah, memories.

6. Still Not A Player – Big Pun Ft. Joe

I mean, technically, this isn’t a Darkchild jam per se. But it builds on one of his best ever productions, Joe’s “Don’t Wanna Be A Player”.

Joe’s falsetto opens it up, but that Brenda Russell keyboard loop – calibrated perfectly to make you bounce – runs away with the song. It’s such a canny song: Big Pun’s sometimes breathless bars (that don’t bear listening to too closely) married to Joe’s smooth R&B voice. By the time you’re singing along to “Boricua/morena” with Joe, the work’s already done.

What a jam.

5. He Wasn’t Man Enough – Toni Braxton

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? From the moment Toni says his name in a husky whisper (followed by a laugh) right at the top of the song, you know you’re in for a treat. “Who do you think I am?” she asks this lesser rival. I don’t know, Toni. I DON’T KNOW.

Again, the beat is king here, as are Toni Braxton’s slinky vocals. And then comes the bridge, when he strips it back, and lets Toni fly. She soars.

A thousand hen nights rejoice.

4. What About Us – Brandy

“Darkchild…B-Rock…Let’s go.”

And then Brandy launches into an impassioned but also somehow detached verse about how her man’s done her wrong, and should “close the door behind you”, but also, how about all these broken promises? “What about us?” she implores.

This is made for dancing with your girls at a house party, after too much food and drinks, when you’re skirting the line between genuine heartbreak and trying to just shake it off.

3. Top Of The World – Brandy

I was 16 when this came out, and it is so good I developed a crush on Ma$e. MA$E! That’s how good this is.

The drums are ridiculous, and Brandy pours her honeyed gospel voice all over it. It sounds exactly like a song a teenager would sing (Brandy was 19), except this teen was a huge-selling pop star to boot. “My life is real so please don’t get it twisted/Problems the same and got to be dealt with/These are the things I wish you knew”.

By the time Ma$e comes back for his verse at the end, Brandy’s “top of the world” refrain is permanently etched on our brains. “Slow down, Ma$e – you killin ‘em,” she instructs coolly.

Too late. This is perfect.

2. It’s Not Right But It’s Okay – Whitney Houston

Whitney’s voice was not what it used to be by this 1999 album, but you couldn’t tell when she damn near snarled out the first line of this: “Friday night/you and your boys went out to eat…” And then right after she talks about finding his credit card receipt, the beat kicks in, bringing with it the chorus (of women): “It’s not right, but it’s okay/I’m gonna make it anyway”.

It doesn’t matter if your partner is the height of loveliness and attention, after hearing this song, you’re going to pick a fight when they get home.

Everything is just spare enough in order to amplify the simmering rage of the lyrics. This is The Lick. One of his finest.

A+.

1. The Boy Is Mine – Monica and Brandy

That hazy keyboard opening is like the harp effect in the dream sequence on a teen sitcom; it is also the start of perfection that doesn’t let up for four minutes.

It’s unequivocally his greatest, right? His work with Brandy always seemed a cut above the rest, and this is their finest collaboration. There are no missteps; it’s all killer, no filler. A duet that favours no one singer, and everyone on their A game.

What. A. Song.

Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/bimadewunmi/darkchild-nine-nine


50 Surprising Facts In Black Music History

James Brown’s dance moves don’t mean what you think they mean.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

1. Prince reportedly sent Weird Al Yankovic a telegram back in 1986, commanding the comedian to avoid eye contact with him during the entirety of the American Music Awards show.

2. Though little was known about eating disorders in his heyday, Louis Armstrong showed signs of bulimia. He binged and purged with the help of laxatives; he was often pictured with his laxative of choice, Swiss Kriss, and recommended it to his friends with the catchphrase “Satch says: Leave it all behind ya!

3. As a teen, Gil Scott-Heron wrote a number of short detective stories in the vein of Agatha Christie.

4. Snoop Dogg reportedly sold weed to Cameron Diaz back when the two attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School.

5. Lil Wayne‘s debut album The Block Is Hot, released when the rapper was only 17 years old, is nearly profanity-free because of his mother’s wishes.

6. Nas almost had Jesus in a headlock on the cover for his 1994 album Illmatic.

7. B.B. King named every guitar he owned Lucille after an incident at one of his performances. Two men had a physical altercation over a woman named Lucille; during the scuffle, they knocked over a barrel of kerosene that heated the venue and subsequently set the venue on fire. All persons inside were evacuated, but King ran back into the burning building to rescue his $30 Gibson guitar. The guitar thus became known as Lucille, as a reminder to King never to run into burning buildings or fight over women.

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

8. At the height of McCarthyism in the ’50s, Lena Horne was blacklisted as a Communist over her participation in the Civil Rights Movement and her friendships with fellow activists Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois.

9. Getting fired from Office Depot inspired Janelle Monae to write “Letting Go,” the song that would reach the ears of OutKast‘s Big Boi and launch her career.

10. When a drunken emcee announced The Sledge Sisters as “Sister Sledge” on stage, the quartet rolled with it and went on to use the error professionally.

11. James Brown‘s famous dance moves were coded directions for his stage band; every hand movement meant Brown had noticed a bum note or had seen a pair of unshined shoes.

12. Jimi Hendrix often switched up the frequently misheard lyrics to “Purple Haze” in his live performances; he swapped out “kiss the sky” for “fuck the sky” during a Seattle rainstorm, and for “kiss this guy” during another performance as he pointed to drummer Mitch Mitchell.

13. Using a modified board with elevated squares, Ray Charles frequently played chess with friends and band members. In 2002, Charles faced off against (and lost to) chess grandmaster Larry Evans.

14. Chuck Berry supplemented his musician’s income by working as a trained beautician.

LaFace

LaFace

 

15. Billie Holiday was inspired to write “God Bless the Child” after she and her mother had an argument over money.

16. Marvin Gaye once shaved his head in protest of boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter’s wrongful murder conviction.

17. In The Last Days of Left Eye, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of TLC voiced her objection to the glorification of revenge-cheating in the group’s hit single “Creep.” Left Eye threatened to wear pieces of black tape over her mouth during the filming of the music video, but she let her resentment creep away.

18. Stevie Wonder led the campaign to have Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday designated as a national holiday.

19. Mary J. Blige‘s debut album title What’s the 411? was a shout-out to her former job as a directory assistance operator.

20. Despite his lyrics to “In Da Club” and “P.I.M.P.,” 50 Cent abstains from alcohol and drugs, citing a “bad experience” with alcohol and an outsider’s view of what drugs can do to a person.

21. Remember that video of a fresh-faced Nicki Minaj acting out a monologue? Before her rap career blew up, Nicki Minaj pursued acting and was cast in the off-Broadway play In Case You Forget.

Sal Idriss / Redferns

Sal Idriss / Redferns

 

22. Gloria Gaynor won the first and only Grammy for Best Disco Recording with “I Will Survive”; the recording academy discontinued the category after disco fell out of public favor.

23. UPenn graduate John Legend turned down admission offers from Harvard and Georgetown at the tender age of 16.

24. Aretha Franklin‘s fear of flying kept her from attending her Rock And Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

25. In spite of his fame and wealth, Ludacris drove his ‘93 Acura Legend for over a decade, racking up over 244,000 miles on the vehicle.

26. Biggie Smalls learned that another rapper had trademarked the name “Biggy Smalls” years earlier, so he changed his moniker to The Notorious B.I.G.

27. When presented with the instrumentals for eventual hits “Are You That Somebody?” and “Try Again,” Aaliyah initially didn’t like them, but recorded the songs.

28. Ol’ Dirty Bastard once saved a 4-year-old girl who was trapped under a car that hit her; Dirty and his friends lifted the car off the girl, who was then rushed to the hospital for her injuries.

Sebastien Bozon / AFP / Getty Images

29. Smokey Robinson got his stage name from his childhood nickname Smokey Joe, a “cowboy” nickname bestowed upon him by his uncle.

30. Miles Davis performed with his back to the audience; it made it easier for him to give his band signals.

31. Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav can play 15 instruments, from French horn to oboe to xylophone.

32. Kanye West was ~internationally famous~ before The College Dropout hit store shelves. He lived in China for a year as a child — his mother Donda was a visiting professor.

33. Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton recorded “Hound Dog” and “Ball ‘n Chain” long before Elvis or Janis Joplin did.

34. Frank Ocean credited his Bernese mountain dog Everest as the executive producer of his critically acclaimed album Channel Orange.

35. Missy Elliott accidentally filmed “Work It” while drunk; director Dave Meyers forgot to replace the wine glass in the restaurant scene with water. After the shot had been filmed seven times, Missy was thoroughly inebriated.

AFP / Getty Images

36. As a student at the Baltimore School of Arts, Tupac Shakur took ballet classes.

37. Jazz legends Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, and Illinois Jacquet were all arrested for gambling in a racially motivated sting set up by the vice squad of Houston’s police department.

38. Salt-N-Pepa‘s “Push It” began as a joke. Producer Hurby Azor came up with the synth line: Salt-N-Pepa’s Cheryl James and Sandra Denton found it “corny” and added the now iconic “Ooh, baby, baby” to mock it.

39. Michael Jackson‘s groundbreaking music video for “Billie Jean” was the first music video by a black artist to appear on MTV.

40. Janet Jackson initially balked at the idea of collaborating with brother Michael, citing a desire for her own fame separate from the Jackson name, but eventually caved in. Thankfully she changed her mind; the siblings went on to give us “Scream.”

41. Dizzy Gillespie‘s signature cheek pouches, caused by his blowing techniques, are now considered a medical condition.

42. Beyoncé, who is now recognized as a style icon for her red carpet looks, was a staunch tomboy who refused to wear dresses as a child.

RB / Redferns

RB / Redferns

 

43. As a high school sophomore, Lauryn Hill appeared on daytime soap As the World Turns as Kira, a troubled teen.

44. Erykah Badu was fined $500 and charged with a misdemeanor for public nudity during the filming of her music video for “Window Seat.” Badu intended her nudity to be a statement of liberation against groupthink.

45. At the height of its popularity, Chubby Checker‘s “The Twist” was explicitly forbidden in New York City Catholic schools because of the song’s “un-Christian” nature.

46. Mariah Carey‘s high school nickname was “Mirage,” thanks to her many absences.

47. Nat King Cole was the first black American to have his own television show. The Nat King Cole Show ran without national sponsors on a network-supported basis, and was eventually done in by a lack of financial support.

48. Contrary to popular belief, Jay Z‘s stage name does not come from the J and Z lines that run by his childhood home in Brooklyn’s Marcy Projects. Jay Z had been known as Jazzy, but he adopted his current moniker after Jazzy became too “glittery.”

49. The phone number in Alicia Keys’ “Diary” was her old phone number, which led to a number of headaches for Georgia resident J.D. Turner, who had Keys’ old number (albeit a different area code.)

50. Whitney Houston nearly became a member of the Huxtable clan. She auditioned for the role of Sondra Huxtable, the eldest daughter on The Cosby Show, but lost the role to Sabrina LeBeauf.

Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/moniquemelendez/50-surprising-facts-in-black-music-history