If you don’t know their names, you either know their iconic look and style...or their iconic songs. Whether it’s Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, New Edition, Sounds of Blackness, Yolanda Adams, Usher, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Barry White, Boyz II Men, Karyn White and beyond, you can thank this legendary suited-and-booted pair for your faves.
The Root had the pleasure of sitting down with iconic songwriters and producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to celebrate and honor their first studio album as artists, Jam & Lewis Volume 1. The name is not only apt because it’s the first volume of what will hopefully be many more to come, but because it debuted at #1 on Apple Music’s Overall Top Albums chart, per a press release sent to The Root. Oh by the way, earlier this summer, The Root exclusively announced their first single from the album featuring Mariah Carey!
Naturally, we had to get the goods and have Jimmy and Terry participate in our Most Iconic Songs series—because y’all know they have stories for days.
So, who shall we thank for bringing us the glorious groove of Janet’s “That’s The Way Love Goes” the lead single from her 1993 self-titled album? According to Jimmy—Janet initially wasn’t a fan of the song (until she experienced the same community groove that we see in the music video) and the label was actually favoring “If.” Though Jimmy and Terry fought hard to convince everyone at the label, it was legendary rapper Chuck D that made the ultimate argument.
“He said that song is like when Sade puts out a record,” Jimmy recalled. “There’s not a bunch of fanfare, it’s not a bunch of hype—it’s just all of a sudden, you put the CD down and you go ‘oh wait, what is this?’”
Do you know what took the longest to record on New Edition’s “Can You Stand the Rain?” Nope, it’s not even the iconic “Nayhoooooooo!” part, it was the spoken insert from Michael Bivins, “Come on baby, let’s go get wet.” Jimmy told us recording for that one line took five or six hours. More like can you stand the pain...of waiting in the studio that long, just for that line. Hahaha!
Get into Jimmy and Terry’s story time above—I could personally listen to them all day. Jam & Lewis Volume One is now available to purchase and stream.