Behind The Songs: Dallas Austin And Jermaine Dupri
As a writer (songwriter, lyricist and poet), I enjoy hearing other writers tell the story behind the music. Aren’t you ever curious as to how some of your favorite songs came to life? There’s a special relationship between the writer, artist, producers and engineers to bring the entire song to life. One rule that I decided early on as a songwriter was that for me there wasn’t going to be any rules. There are some that believe a song has structure for instance Intro, 1st Verse, Hook/Chorus, 2nd Verse, Hook/Chorus, Bridge and Hook/Chorus (maybe an Outro). Try to keep the song under 4 minutes. Me as well as a few other writers I know have basically said, “No”. I’m writing it, it’s my song and I want it to be the most organic it can be. First let me just say that there are many ways to write. You could choose to write the lyrics first and then add production to fit it or you could hear an instrumental first and then write to it. I began writing doing the 1st method but nowadays I do more of the latter. I don’t write in any order and try to find structure along the way. If it’s good whether or not it’s considered standard or not I say take the risk. You have a right to create your own artistry how you want to.
Now I got word that Dallas Austin and Jermaine Dupri (JD) were going to do a behind the song session on IG Live. I know both of their catalogs are supreme and as a writer I’m always curious about the history of songs so I penciled it in for April 24th at 9pm EST on IG Live. At 9:09pm the sound was clear on both sides and the masterclass as they called it began. Now how this works is that they each played one of the other’s songs and that person would explain the back story.
Dallas played: Nice & Slow by Usher
JD said that this was Usher’s first #1 record and that L.A. Reid wasn’t a fan of it when he heard it. JD admitted that he didn’t like his reaction and wanted him to have more enthusiasm. (Both Dallas and JD cared about L.A.’s opinion of songs since he was considered 1 of the “goat’s” in the industry at the time).
JD played: FanMail by TLC
Dallas said that when doing this song he had to use a computer to input Lisa’s voice because she didn’t come to the studio to record it.
Dallas played: Get Your Number by Mariah Carey feat Jermaine Dupri
JD said that that was the 1st song he wrote for The Emancipation of Mimi and explained that Mariah liked his demo of it. Apparently she even liked his intro vocals and wanted to keep that part of the song although he was opposed to it.
Both Dallas and JD explained that they were both from College Park, Atlanta (how ironic that I’m reporting on this from College Park as well but in MD but I’m from DC-I rep DC forever but I digress) and JD says that he considers Dallas to be like a big brother.
JD played: Please Don’t Go by Boyz II Men
Dallas didn’t give a backstory of this one just said that it was an honor working with them.
Dallas played: Let’s Get Married by Jagged Edge
JD said that his girlfriend at the time was tired of him being in the studio all the time and told him, “I hope the studio keeps you nice and warm” and was just always fussing about him not being around. JD said he met Jagged Edge at the studio and just told them that they needed to do a song about getting married.
JD played: What About Your Friends by TLC
Dallas explained that after watching what was going on between TLC and Pebbles (their manager at the time) that he saw how disappointed and heartbroken they were in feeling betrayed by someone that they were so close to and considered a friend.
Dallas played: Pullin’ Me Back by Chingy feat Tyrese
JD let us hear a little bit of the demo he made for that song but didn’t go into much detail as far as the story behind it.
JD played: Hit Em’ Up by Blu Cantrell
Dallas said that he didn’t think that L.A. Reid would like the song but he did.
Dallas played: You Make Me Wanna…by Usher
JD said that this was the last song that he wrote for the My Way album. L.A. Reid loved it and Usher thought it was just alright. Once they started recording and Usher sang the bridge he then liked the song.
JD played: FourFiveSeconds by Rihanna, Kayne West and Paul McCartney
Dallas said that he was amongst other writers and that he re-wrote the song about 35 times because he wanted Kayne to like it. JD noted that he didn’t realize that he wrote that and Dallas said that he didn’t want to be boxed in.
It was 9:50 now and everyone got kicked out due to Instagram freezing up. The most that I saw as far as viewers throughout the session was 12.4k. It only took a minute or so and then we were back on.
Dallas played: Funkdafied by Da Brat
JD said that Brat stayed with him for 2 years as he tried to figure out what her 1st single was going to be.
JD played: Cool by Gwen Stefani
Dallas said that the song was initially for Christina Aguliera but L.A. Reid wanted it to be for TLC and Dallas said no. A few years later Gwen Stefani reached out to him and said that she wanted to work with him. He presented the song to her and she said it was perfect for her and her relationship situation at the time.
They both stopped to just offer some advice on songwriting mainly being to try to keep it close to 3 minutes and to tell the most vivid story possible.
Dallas played: Kick Your Game by TLC
JD simply said he was just watching TLC have fun in the studio one day dancing and he started thinking about what he would say to them if he didn’t know them and saw them out in the street. This was the 1st record he wrote on Crazy Sexy Cool.
JD played: Creep by TLC
Dallas said that he had a high school sweetheart and that they were living together but he was cheating on her. A friend of his lived downstairs that wrote poetry and one day when he stopped by at his friend’s he was reading through a poem of his that described something like, “I hear your footsteps above, I’m in love” and Dallas felt like he was talking about his girl. He asked her about it and she admitted that she was seeing the guy downstairs. He said he couldn’t even be mad seeing as though he was unfaithful. He mentioned though that he wrote the lyrics 1st and then produced it.
Dallas played: My Little Secret by Xscape
JD said he was trying to create a duplicate of Nice & Slow but he wanted to flip the script. He said that women are the sneakiest creatures and we usually hear about men trying to contain their secrets and he wanted to write about women trying to hide theirs.
JD played: Street Symphony by Monica
Dallas said Monica is 1 of the realest people you will ever meet. He said she was always in the projects & loved street guys. He said she realized that wasn’t the best for her as it started to personally affect her.
Dallas played: Confessions Part II by Usher
JD said that he had writer’s block when writing this. He was out driving and looked around at what was going on and noted that as the lyrics. He memorized it until he got home to write it down and called Usher to come and finish the recording.
JD played: Pill by P!nk
Dallas said he was taking ecstasy pills and had moved to Miami but felt as though he should’ve stayed in Atlanta. L.A. Reid wanted him to write an R&B song for P!nk but he didn’t see that vision. Dallas said he wanted to be able to write different genres and many people weren’t in that pop/rock lane at the time.
Dallas played: Like You by Bow Wow feat Ciara
JD said Bow Wow was on tour at the time and that he and Ciara were dating so it was easy to get her on the record. As far as the hook goes he said that it came about by a complete accident. He asked Jonta Austin to co-write the rest with him.
JD played: Trick Me by Kelis
Dallas said that this was 1 of his biggest records and that being well versed in music expanded his writing skills.
That was it and they both said that they have a company together JDA and that they’re going to do a talent show and are looking for artists and writers. They also said if you know who has enough hits to battle each of them let them know.