Montell Jordan has had the Top 10 hits, platinum-selling albums, successful tours and adoring fans, but nothing compares to the love and sheer joy he has for his wife and their infant daughter.
It’s hard to put into words, Jordan says, but he manages to say it all in his album credits, telling young Sidney Alexis Jordan that “you are my soul reborn.”
“Having a child honestly gives you, in not so many words, what our purpose is here on Earth,” Jordan said recently. “It’s like all my life I’ve focused on me and my preservation and my life, and now it’s like my life is so insignificant when it comes to her and her needs.
“When I look into her eyes, I see my wife (Kristin), and I see why I fell in love with my wife. Sometimes when I look at Sidney’s little nose or something or her little bushy eyebrows, I see me, and it’s something else when you’re able to look at a little person and see yourself or see somebody else that you love so much.”
Fans will hear that love shining through on Jordan’s third album, “Let’s Ride” (Def Soul/Def Jam/Mercury, released March 31), which waxes romantic atop a wafting R&B vitality.
“I just hope the audience will give this album a chance,” Jordan said, “because I think it’s quality material, that’s from the heart, in a place where a lot of people are bashing things and saying there’s no good music out there. It’s poetry set to music.”
If radio reaction to the title track, featuring Master P and Silkk the Shocker, is any indication, Jordan has nothing to worry about. The song, with its hook-savvy guitar plucks, made an astonishing leap from No. 63 into Billboard’s pop Top 10 in one week. It’s now at No. 6 and a good bet to become the Los Angeles-based singer’s second career No. 1.
“Let’s Ride” is all Montell, Jordan says.
“I’m very pleased with the work on this album,” he said. “I’m pleased that my producers and my production staff did the bulk of the album, along with myself, and that every song on the album is either written or co-written or produced or co-produced by myself, and I think that’s essential for the audience that enjoys listening to Montell music, that they’re able to get the real Montell, rather than getting pieces of Teddy Riley or whoever.
“I don’t care much for album filler, and actually a lot of good songs were taken off the album as well. I did a collaboration with Monifah and Flesh-N-Bone from Bones Thugs-n-Harmony. I did a song with Nokio from Dru Hill, and I had like four or five other songs that didn’t get on the album for purposes of making sure that I put the absolute best foot forward.
“More so, I think it’s a very creatively done project. I feel that anything taken, sample-wise or for nostalgia, was done creatively and I think we did a good job this time around. We did a good job the first two times, but without question, I do feel like this is like my first time out.”
Jordan has come a long way from the days when he struggled to pay his way through Pepperdine University, where he studied communications with an eye on law school. He always loved music and sang in church choirs, but he never considered a career in music until he hooked up with hip-hop producer Chi-Luv. Before he knew it, he had a record deal, and by 1995, he had the ultimate: a No. 1 song with his first single, “This Is How We Do It.”
“At Pepperdine, I had accumulated a whole lot of bills,” Jordan said, “but I was somehow smart enough to get a degree in communications and a minor in business. In putting together my first record deal, where artists ask for cars and ‘I want this, that and the other,’ one thing I asked for is that if I sold 500,000 records, a gold record, that they would pay off my college loan.
“That was a big deal to me, because I had $65,000 worth of student loans that I would’ve been paying for the rest of my life, so they paid that off in one big nice check.”
Like the single, “This Is How We Do It” – the album – sold more than 1 million copies. The 1996 follow-up, “More …,” only scratched at the surface of Jordan’s creative growth and maturity, more apparent than ever on “Let’s Ride.”
“I was never this talented when I first got my break,” he said. “When I first got my record deal, I wasn’t prepared for what I do right now, what I write, what I produce. It was so far from this place right now. I often wonder how a lot of artists can get passed up or not seen enough to let their talent go untapped and where they might be four years from now. I never would have imagined that five years from signing a record deal that I would be doing what I do now.
“I don’t think it was luck. Maybe God just was smiling on me that particular day.”