Standing at a towering 6'8", caramel complexioned, handsome features, and blessed with a voice that could melt frozen butter is how one could accurately describe Montell Jordan.
Montell is part of a rare breed of male R&B vocalists who possess both the smooth, church-honed style of a Teddy Pendergrass or Marvin Gaye, that can also swing with the raw, street sounds found in the Hip-Hop arena.
Growing up knee-deep in South Central Los Angeles, his experience in the hood was a typical of the notorious gangsta life. "Yeah, I got jumped coming home from school. I lived in a really bad area and being involved in the church kept me out of trouble on Saturdays. I could tell you the stories about playing ball around the corner while The Bloods and The Crips were shooting because I've been there. My story is that even through all that sh*t that goes on in the inner city and in South Central, somehow I didn't gangbang and found a way to go to church and college."
Montell's love affair with music began with playing piano in church at the tender age of 11, and later learning to play several instruments including alto sax and percussion. Though influenced by the music of Stevie Wonder, Nat King Cole and Sammy Davis Jr., Montell couldn't envision a career in music and did not actually start singing until he was 16. He continued his education by enrolling and earning a degree in Organizational Communications at Pepperdine University, while keeping an ear in music. "I was studying and preparing to go to Law school. That's when I joined a music group and learned about jazz music. During that time, I hooked up with a Hip-Hop producer named Chi-Luv who was really into mixing and deejaying, and we started working together."
On his riveting 12 track debut album, This is How We Do It [on Def jam], Montell Jordan has successfully bridged the gap between traditional R&B harmonies and phat beats that equal slammin' tracks.
"I produced and wrote lyrics for every track on the album (O j i Pierce co-produced)," says Montell proudly. "I wanted to do it to present me as an artist, a self-contained entity. I have to sing my songs from experiences. I can't lie and say it was made up."
With his impressive album debut keeping it real, Montell Jordan deserves recognition within the elite "MJ" class.