Do you know every word to this song? I do. In fact, what surprised me most at my post-graduation party last night (aside from the fact that I actually finished a tertiary degree without being unceremoniously kicked out) was the fact that very few people knew anything of this Dancefloor Banger To End All Bangers aside from the five syllables that inhabit the chorus. Like, really? You can sing me Katy Perry’s ‘Firework‘ from top to bottom but you can’t get your vibe on to a stone cold R&B classic? Get outta here. Montell Jordan is the bomb. Actually, now he’s a born again Christian. But hey, it’s Good Friday, right? If anyone, Jordan is proof that you can get your swag and your Jesus on at the same time.
Every good project starts with a great idea. For ‘This Is How We Do It’, that idea is the main riff from Slick Rick’s ‘Children’s Story’ (above), which was repackaged, given a shot of American testosterone and sent out into the world as 1995’s most unlikely hit. Just like Slick, who uses the beat to tell a story about corruption and violence in the hood, Jordan puts his words to melody to tell a story about what goes down on a Friday night in South Central. That’s why it’s a good thing to know the words to this here tune; you can learn a lot. Honest to God the first time I heard the words ‘mack’, O.G.’ or ‘player’ were on this song. By working backwards, I painstakingly figured out what they all meant and followed Jordan’s narrative through the streets of his city as those over-treated drums shimmied and shook like the world was about to end. And what did I learn? There’s a party going down, and it’s such a good party that all the gang-bangers forgot to do a drive-by, everyone’s drinking and there’s even a designated driver who’s looking after the truck. Critical analysis, people. What a shame I finished university.
What makes Montell Jordan an interesting case is that he’s not afraid to sing out even though he’s very much limited himself to the confines of a relentless party beat. With production that speaks for itself, he could easily stick to the safe notes and rap a bit more; after all, this was his first hit and it’s a hell of a gamble to put all your cards on the table in one go. Besides, measuring up at a whopping 6’8″, it’s not like he was going to have troubles at being the centre of attention. It’s arguable that in showing his hand with the vocal theatrics he pulls off in ‘This Is How We Do It’, Montell also shot himself in the foot, because he never hit No.1 again. Although he remained in the limelight, this is his legacy, and full of life and ad-libbing perfection, it’s certainly a great thing to have one’s name attached to when you apply at your local Church. Considering the other hits spawned from the same Slick Rick sample (ODB’s ‘Got Your Money‘ in particular) are so repetitive and generally uninspiring, I feel no shame in knowing the verses and the chorus to this baby. Because this is how I do it, it’s Friday night, and I feel alright – the party’s here on the website.
It’s time to get religious on this dancefloor.
Montell Jordan – ‘This Is How We Do It’