The 2022 Urban One Honors are on the way and the Lifetime Achievement honorees are getting their well-deserved flowers. As previously reported this year’s Ne-Yo hosted tribute show premieres Monday, January 17, 2022, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, on TV One and Cleo TV, and carries a theme of “The Soundtrack of Black America.”
Several well-deserving musical legends will be honored including Timbaland, the Music Innovation honoree;
Gamble and Huff, the Living Legends honorees ;
Tasha Cobbs Leonard, the Inspirational Impact honoree;
and Oscar, Grammy, and Emmy Award-winning singer Jennifer Hudson, the Entertainment Icon honoree.
Also included in the group of honorees are Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis whose accomplishments and accolades are undoubtedly part of Black America’s soundtrack.
James Samuel Harris III and Terry Steven Lewis, aka Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (or if you have old Black uncles, they’re affectionately referred to as “What you know about that, youngin?) are considered to be among the greatest pop/R&B songwriters and producers of all time (also, they were members of The Time). Even if you’re not familiar with the music production duo or their own discography, you likely know their work and the other artists they’ve produced and written hit songs for (unless you’re like 12, in which case GO TO BED!!)
We’re talking artists from multiple eras of music including Aretha Franklin, Usher, New Edition, Mary J Blige, Lionel Richie, Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men, George Michael, Alexander O’Neal, S.O.S. Band, Luther Vandross, Michael and Janet Jackson.
And you know the songs, having produced 16 No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 singles and 26 Billboard R&B No. 1 hits, you couldn’t possibly attend a Black cookout or even put together a decent R&B playlist without coming across a well-known hit produced by this dynamic duo.
From Boyz II Men’s “On Bended Knee” to Carey’s “Thank God I Found You” to Usher’s “U Remind Me” to Janet’s entire Control album, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have been giving us popular hits full of life, love and Blackity Blackness for 40 years.
But what about the hits and other songs even Jimmy and Terry fans didn’t know they produced?
I mean, if you’re a diehard fan with an encyclopedic knowledge of all the music these two are responsible for, there’s probably no stumping you. But here are some hits the casual fan probably knows and loves but wasn’t aware they were composed by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
- Patti LaBelle – “Too Many Tears, Too Many Times”
Now, this was a deep cut on Patti’s fourteenth studio album When A Woman Loves, released in 2000, so it would be pretty easy for this one to fly under the radar. But that doesn’t mean Jimmy and Terry were any less brilliant when they were putting this one together for the woman who is considered among the greatest vocalists of all time. (She also makes pretty good pies.)
2. Chanté Moore – Chante’s Got A Man
Bruh, DID Y’ALL KNOW “CHANTE’S GOT A MAN” WAS PRODUCED BY JIMMY JAM AND TERRY LEWIS?
[Whatever, you music nerds, I didn’t know!] But yes, Moore’s hit single from her 1999 release This Moment is Mine was yet another banger produced by the duo hit-making machines.
3. Shabba Ranks featuring Johnny Gill – “Slow & Sexy”
Most R&B aficionados know that Jimmy and Terry produced New Edition’s fifth studio album Heart Break, which was the group’s first album to feature Johnny Gill as a member of the group. What many people don’t know is that a few years after the 1988 release, the renowned music makers reunited with Gill to produce a collaboration with reggae sensation Shabba Ranks. “Slow & Sexy” was released in 1992 from his album X-tra Naked. According to BET.com, “Slow & Sexy” peaked at number 33 on the Billboard Top 100 and is Ranks’ highest-charted single to date.
4. Janet Jackson – “Truly”
Normally when people think Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, and Janet Jackson, their minds automatically go to Janet’s third studio album Control, which was released in 1986. But the truth is, that trio was the perfect recipe for brilliant music throughout Jackson’s career, and in 2004, her album Damita Jo was one of the last projects they worked on together. And with their long-standing relationship, you just know all Janet had to do was make the call to the producers that helped make her career and then, voila, another “Truly” great song was born.
5. Usher – “It Is What It Is”
So, in 2004, Usher Raymond released a short film titled Rhythm City Vol. 1: Caught Up. About a year later, the Confessions singer released a soundtrack to the film and that soundtrack featured the song “It Is What It Is,” which was produced by—you guessed it—Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
6. Color Me Bad – “Forever Love”
OK, for the next entry in this list, I’m going to hit you with the ultimate ’90s throwback—Color Me Bad.
Now, most people know this R&B group for their 1991 hit “I Wanna Sex You Up“—the song that made teenagers everywhere feel awkward AF when it came on the radio or TV while their parents were in the room. But about a year after that song hit the airwaves, the group teamed up with Jimmy and Terry for their song “Forever Love,” which was featured on the Mo’ Money movie soundtrack, which was released along with the Wayans’ brothers film in 1992.
7. Aretha Franklin – “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool”
You know that for the last entry in this lesser-known hit list, we had to end things with arguably the greatest and most legendary vocalist and songstress of all time —Aretha Franklin.
Franklin is another artist Jimmy and Terry did plenty of work with, but one song of the “Respect” icon’s catalog came late in her career. “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool” was featured on the late singer’s 35th album, So Damn Happy. And we’re all so damn happy we were gifted with this track just like we are that she ever graced this Earth with her beauty and talent in the first place.
Listen folks, we could list music produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis all day and still wouldn’t get to everything these two have done in their careers. Some people have just given us too much greatness.
For more Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis watch the 2022 Urban One Honors airing Monday, January 17, 2022, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, on TV One and Cleo TV.