On October 12, 1999, Donell Jones exit his sophomore album Where i Wanna Be, which spawned fight singles prefer “U understand What’s up (Remix)” and the location track. We spoke come the singer around the do of his classic album two decades later.

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Donell Jones’ story begins on the Southside that Chicago.

Born the child of gospel singer Roys Jones, it seemed he to be destined to seek a job in music. In ~ the tender age of eight, he began singing. By the period of 12, he was creating his very first composition. Two years later, he got his first instrument: an electric guitar — a Christmas gift indigenous his parents.

While in high school, his love because that music ongoing to grow. He performed in high institution talent shows about the city. During one the his job-related shifts in ~ McDonald’s, the was discovered singing by his manager. Together a result, that was urged to audition because that a place in a regional singing group. He was favored — and also they started performing together as Porché, making a name for themselves in the crowded regional scene.

For the next three years, they worked diligently to acquire recognition external of your hometown. Their journey for success led castle to to visit the black color Radio to exclude, music convention in Washington, DC in 1993. Here, is where Jones’ fortunes would certainly change. 

Despite the low attendance at the convention, the group performed external the venue and was signed by Edward “DJ Eddie F.” Ferrell come his brand-new document label, Untouchables Entertainment, a joint venture with LaFace Records. Jones’ team would disband shortly after. But, this offered him the opportunity to job-related as a songwriter because that LaFace.

In 1994, he knowledgeable his an initial taste that success once he composed Usher’s very first hit song “Think the You.” After transporting a hit because that the document label, and also previewing his own material, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Antonio “L.A.” Reid, allowed him to write and also produce his debut album, mine Heart. Under the secure hand of Ferrell, my Heart to be moderately successful.


Photo Credit: James Devaney/WireImage

For your background vocals was there a special method that you provided to document your lift vocals or to be it completely standard?

No. It to be pretty lot standard. If ns doing background, I prefer to do 4 of the very same notes. If i’m doing three-part harmonies over the beat, I’ll need to sing the 12 times. I favor to execute it the way, conversely, if I have two vocals on each side, they’ll be the same.

Did you have an technician for this project?

I did. Sheldon engineered many of it as soon as I was singing the song myself. For the most part, I’d record myself, and then us had designers at the studios we were recording at.

What were several of the studios you recorded at?

In Eddie F.’s studio i beg your pardon was called Playground. In Atlanta, we recorded at DARP studios. I’m not certain the surname of the place where we recorded at in LA. Climate in new York, we recorded at The hit Factory, Platinum, Quad, damn near every one of them.

Let’s walk in-depth about the creation of the song on whereby I Wanna Be. Start with “U recognize What’s Up.”

“U recognize What’s Up” was produced by Eddie F. And Darren Lighty. The was written by Cliff Lighty, Cliff Harris, Ferrell, Anthony Hamilton, and someone else when I very first heard the track, ns was like, “Man, this is a dope ass record.” yet it no “U understand What’s Up” yet. They had a whole other song. It was something about a automobile horn, and I didn’t prefer it. Everybody love the track, but that details song ns didn’t like. They came ago with the “U recognize What’s Up” song and I to be like, “Man, this shit is a smash.” i was quiet a little scared due to the fact that it still had that feeling of that various other record ~ above it. It ended up being my best hit ever.

“Where i Wanna Be”

That’s what ns was going through at the time. I remained in a partnership with my children’s mother, and we just prospered apart. This specific song to be something i was going v as I wrote it. Ns was ~ above the airplane coming ago to Chicago due to the fact that my dad’s mom passed away. Once I to be on the plane, ns was writing the song, but when I acquired to Chicago ns forgot about it. Yet when ns went home, whatever started coming back to me. I think the factor why a many of civilization fell in love v the tune was due to the fact that it to be something the was true. I discovered out the it just wasn’t me the was going with it. Half the human being was going with the same thing.

It just came to be a really ethical record that did good for me. I had actually these chords because that the record, and I knew how I want to song it. Ns knew they had actually all those things, however I had actually this chord progression, and I required somebody who I might take it come the following level. Eddie F. Suggested that I speak to Kyle West. He simply jumped on the keyboard and also played what i played yet took it to a entirety other level. After us did that, I placed the small congas top top there. We gained Sheldon in over there to beat the guitar. We didn’t know what we were making, but we knew it sounded different and also it to be good. The music came out prefer it came out, and it was meant to be.

“Shorty (Got she Eyes top top Me)”

“Shorty” was written by Eric Williams native Blackstreet and a guy by the surname of Wes Hogges. Us were in Atlanta and trying come come up v some records. Earlier then, a great part of mine album had guitar sounds on it, therefore I want to acquire a live etc on the album. Sheldon was still in brand-new Jersey, so we had to rental this man named Tommy Martin to come over and also play the guitar. Tommy began playing the line, man. It placed bite into it. We placed the bassline on it and also boom. It was a record.

“Have You watched Her”

“Have You viewed Her” was an additional joint written by Eric Williams and also Wes Hogges. Appropriate after us did “Shorty,” i guess us were tho in a vibe, and also they come up with that record. Eric created it in 20 minutes. That was one more one of those records. Those two documents were made with each other at the very same time.

“This Luv”

Sheldon come up v a dope bassline. That did the beat climate I wrote the lyrics. That was it. It to be like, “I want to absent it through you yet that’s all I want to do.” No partnership involved. At the time, ns was young and also that’s what us were talking around and living. 

“All she Love”

Most women sing a song about being in relationships through guys and also they have another woman, yet no guy really sings around that. So, I want to upper and lower reversal the script and also sing the from a masculine perspective around being in love through a mrs who currently has a man. I thought that would be sort of interesting, due to the fact that I believed that women might listen come the song and put us in that position, and also the guys roughly the world, who would never ever admit the they’re in that predicament, could vibe with it, too. 

“It’s Alright”

It was another one that those documents where i was just coming up v some ideas and that track come out. It to be really around just enjoying a an excellent time with your woman. 

“Think around It (Don’t contact My Crib)”

to be written and also produced through me. As I claimed before, this was the first song I wrote for this album. I had it since I perfect my very first album. I was trying come come up with something that reflected the Chicago style. I was affected by the Isley brother on this one. I just had actually to show that ns was from Chi-Town. That was a Chicago kind of beat and also that’s whereby the idea came from. 

“He Won’t hurt You“

“He won’t Hurt You” was an additional record written and also produced by me. I simply felt favor I had actually to fall a few songs ~ above the album the paid respect come women. Once I was cultivation up in Chicago, i had household members in abusive relationships, so I wanted to compose something the spoke come what some ladies go v in relationships. 


“Pushin’” was produced by Eddie F., Bilal, Darren Lighty, and Cliff Lighty. Eddie go a good job of making certain that we got the up-tempos right and my point was act the ballads. The was basic record to do. I wasn’t in the studio once they make this song. I just came in and sang my parts.

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“I Wanna Luv U“

“I Wanna Luv U” to be a tune we taped as a group. I had actually live percussions ~ above there and also strings. Ns really stepped external myself and put something together that I thought was really nice because I had never excellent live strings, or also seen them excellent before. I hired a lady come come in and also do the strings. It expense a lot to carry out it, too. That was one of those documents that I wanted to present that expressing your love for her woman was a beautiful thing.

“When i Was Down”

was probably the last document we did because that the album. It felt choose a genuine smooth laid-back song. It was talking about something real street, a tiny edgy. It had all those aspects of R&B, but it was fresh, for this reason we simply felt like finishing the album through a Curtis Mayfield sample would be awesome.