Interview with Montell Jordan
Sometimes media impressions are just that. Impressions. It's sometimes hard to really know someone based on another's impressions. Such is the case for Montell Jordan.
— interview by Dwayne Lacy —
His latest project is another R&B punch, titled "R.U. With Me". But it has one of those intriguing “B Side” tracks to conclude the album. The song is “You In Me”, and even a cursory listen reveals that there’s more going on beneath the surface with Jordan than many may have guessed.
The song is an altar call, with Jordan bringing out some real life analysis his own, and bringing home the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Bishop Eddie L. Long joins in with Jordan to cement the impact towards the end of the song (see review)
Montell Jordan spent some time with Gospelflava.com to discuss some of the obvious questions that this song raises. He shared his love for Jesus Christ, his love for his Pastor, his musical collaborations and many other things. Agree with him or not, he offers up some intriguing insight.
Judging from your song “You In Me”, you have some significant connection with Bishop Eddie L. Long.
"I’ve only been in Atlanta for a year and a half now. Bishop Long was one of the reasons that I was contemplating moving there after visiting his church. He has a great covering at [New Birth Cathedral], and I truly believe in spiritual coverings."
"For me, I think that’s a fantastic way to move into this near era of music, along with the new regime of artists moving into the forefront of what’s happening in Gospel music. There’s so much going on right now, just being apart of his congregation and have his blessing to do what we do in the music business is something that I needed. It’s an honor for me that he desired to be involved in my music."
How exactly did the collaboration with Bishop Long come about?
"As I was completing songs on the album, Bishop would be joking with me saying, ‘So Montell, when we goin’ do my song?’"
"The song “The You In Me” didn’t exist at that point. I would tell him, ‘C’mon Bishop. You ain’t trying to do this!’ But he was persistent, he was serious about doing a song."
The You In Me
The final track on Montell Jordan's album R.U. With Me is a song titled "The You In Me". Bishop Eddie L. Long of New Birth Cathedral joins with Jordan midway through song to deliver an altar call. (See review.) |
"So I wrote the song you hear on the album, I called Bishop, sent him the CD and told him that I had a song for him. We met in Los Angeles, and before he went into the booth to record his part, he prayed and said that God was going to show up. He was going to go in there and do his part without rehearsing. He walked by me and said, ‘Let me see your hand.’ He put my hand on his head and said, ‘Whew! I feel better now’ and went into sound booth and recorded his part."
In the lyrics, you suggest that some may find it difficult to believe that ‘singer of R&B’ would be chosen of God to deliver his message.
"It was important for me to include “The You In Me” on the CD. [These Gospel songs] have always been important for me, from the very beginning. I’ve recorded Gospel songs with Bishop Clarence McClendon, with Shep Crawford (“God Will Do Anything for You”) and also Gospel interludes."
"I grew up as a church musician. For me, it ‘s not a token song, or a tribute. Even in my mainstream music, the spiritual sound is there. With the background vocals and the emotion, there is that Gospel sound."
So, from your perspective, why as an R&B artist would you choose to sing a Gospel song in particular?
"I don’t think that it is unlike anything other artists go through. For example, everybody knows Kelly Price has an anointed voice. She’s an incredible talent and very saved woman who could sing a church into a frenzy. She could also sing, “A Friend of Mine” and talk about the heartbreak of a relationship and some girl who did her wrong. Is it not true that some folks in the church don’t experience those type of situations? Are people in the church excluded from people being lied on? Do they not have feeling of lust or experience what other people experience on a day to day basis? Most people need music that gets them through their emotional roller coasters; the high and low points of their lives."
"A preacher once told me that when he makes love to his wife, he doesn’t pull out a Gospel album. He pulls out Marvin Gaye or The Isley Brothers."
"Mainstream music is my job, I make videos and I make songs. My job is not to preach or minister at your church.
My ministry lies in another place it's to reach out to a different kind of person. I asked a preacher once if I should stop doing mainstream music and do just Gospel Music? He told me no, because then I would just be reaching out to the Gospel audience. God couldn’t use people in the capacity that He wants to use me in. Maybe he wants to reach someone further out then who a Fred Hammond or a Bishop Eddie Long can reach."
"So what does Montell have to do? I can’t go into the ‘hood and talk to that thug who needs Jesus by doing all Gospel albums. I have to give him something that he’s used to hearing. I gotta give him a club banger. I gotta give him something that he’s smoking his weed to. While he’s doing his thing, I can slip in because I’m behind enemy lines. I’m in and say ‘Yo, Montell got it going on, Montell is cool. By the way, I do love the Lord and God is taking care of me.’"
"That’s when I get the email that says, ‘Yo Montell, I was listening to your joint and me and my girl were getting down to it. That’s when I heard this Gospel joint, and I didn’t know that it was cool to love Jesus. That’s cool that you can stand out there and say that that’s what you believe in.’"
"Someone may look at it as hypocritical. Church folks are under criticism all the time. Jesus wasn’t accepted in his home town. Jesus came to save us and He was crucified. For us to live in Him, we must die to ourselves."
"In my journey, I can’t expect people to accept me for what I do. I would expect criticism because I came from the church. A lot of people would think what I’m doing is crazy, that I took my gift from the Lord and am using it for the devil."
"I think that if that was true, then God would take this gift away from me. Talent is something that comes and goes depending on how long you practice, but a gift is something that comes from God."
"I believe that this is my gift and that I am behind enemy lines. I do love Jesus."
"The “You in Me” is explaining what God has me out there doing. While everyone is making reference to what Puff Daddy and R. Kelly are doing, they simply don’t know what God is doing in these people’s lives. People don’t know the testimony that He’s taken me through."
"Simply put, without a test, there is no testimony. If people look beyond the music and look at the person’s life, they will see more of what God is doing."
"Montell can help introduce people to Bishop Eddie Long who wouldn’t have known who he is. Then, Bishop’s word and message can penetrate into different places."
Do you think that artists, mainstream artists included, should be more responsible for their lyrics?
"I would love for every artist to have that same consciousness, and faith in God to have more conscious lyrics."
"We think that artists make music for us, but really, they make music for themselves. It’s up to the people to determine who they listen to."
"Back in the day, Prince was making HIS music, and either you liked his music or you didn't. This new album is MY music. [Before, on other albums], I was making music for everyone else. Now with this album, you can either like it or not, but it’s not someone else’s story, it’s my story."
"Music can be a reflection of society, it can be your own personal story or it can be something that can take your mind of your own personal problems."
"Did I answer that question, adequately or did I ramble around? As far as artists being responsible for their lyrics, I would say no. Artists are in different places."
"Eminem may not be where Montell is, and Montell may not be where Fred Hammond might be. So, you’re gonna get different music for different people. That may be a controversial statement."
"If Eminem had more responsible lyrics, there would be no “Eminem”. If NWA had been more responsible with their lyrics, there would have been no era of NWA. Their music is not for kids though. I appreciated [NWA’s] music, but I was a child then. If you train up a child in the way he should go, then that child wouldn’t be going out and shooting someone, instead of just appreciating the music for what it is."
Do you have plans for any further Gospel music endeavors, do you intend to work with anyone else in Gospel?
"Absolutely. I’ve been talking to Kim Burrell and I so desperately want to do a song with her. I’ve been in touch with a lot of people recently with hanging out at the Stellar Awards and being in touch with Bishop Eddie Long."
"Who knows what’s going to come. Will Montell do a Gospel album? I can’t determine if I do a Gospel album. That’s not how it works. God has to place it on you. I will be in His will."
"It’s my will to do a record with Kim Burrell. Now I have to find out if it’s God’s will. If it’s not in His will, then it won’t happen."
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