Black Music Month Spotlight: LaShawn Daniels
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on MadameNoire May 7, 2014.
If you watch the show “Tamar and Vince,” you’ve likely seen LaShawn Daniels. The songwriter from New Jersey has a catalog of hits… award winning hits, that you probably didn’t know he had a hand in. Before we watched him write and craft Tamar’s Love and War album you might have seen Daniels as a vocal coach on “Making The Band” and “American Idol.” The dude is bad, so check out the songs you probably didn’t know he wrote and co-wrote for some of our favorite artists.
The Boy Is Mine – Brandy and Monica
How could any of us forget the mega-watt hit “The Boy Is Mine”? The duet between Brandy and Monica was also the song that fueled the (kinda true) rumors that the two were beefing with one another in real life. They later admitted that they had their issues, that came to blows, but it didn’t have anything to do with a man…we think. Either way, the song was written by Daniels, Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III and Brandy. Some of you may know it was an answer song to Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney’s “The Girl Is Mine.” “The Boy Is Mine” ended up becoming the first number one hit for both Monica and Brandy and was also the best selling song that year. It was at the top of the Billboard charts for 13 weeks. The song was awarded a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group and also received a nomination for record of the year.
Brandy came up with the concept for the song while watching the show “Jerry Springer” which was detailing a love triangle among his guests. Brandy originally recorded the song alone but she and Jerkins thought it would be better as a duet and Brandy suggested Monica. There were already rumors about their feud and Brandy thought this song would squash those. Whoops. It did the exact opposite.
In 2008, Billboard ranked the song as it’s All-Time Top 100 Songs from the past 50 years.
Feedback – Janet Jackson
Let me first say, before I get into the details of the song that for the longest time, I mean like up until maybe two years ago, I thought Janet was saying “Be Bad, be bad oooo.” Dead wrong.
This song was written by Jerkins, Dernst Emile, Tasleema Yasin, and LaShawn Daniels. “Feedback” is credited as one of the first mainstream electropop songs. The 2008 single leaked to radio and was featured on websites within a few hours of its debut. It was well received and reached the number 19 spot on the Billboard charts and many credited it as Janet’s comeback. The song won a Billboard Award for “Hot Dance Club Play Track” of the year.
Janet, who y’all know is a lil nasty, says the song is about sexual climax. In a behind the scenes shoot, Janet said “metaphor, sexual tension is really the idea of it. The more you give me, the more you’ll hear me feedback and at that point you don’t stop because it’ll go higher and higher.”
He Wasn’t Man Enough – Toni Braxton
This was one of the first times I heard an artist say “Darkchild, yeah” and I had no idea what Toni was saying. I swore she was saying “Dog Chow, yeah.” Wrong again. “He Wasn’t Man Enough” was the lead single from Toni’s third studio album The Heat in 2000. The song was written by Rodney Jerkins (if you haven’t already gathered, you’ll be seeing his name quite a bit on this list.), Fred Jerkins III, LaShawn Daniels and Harvey Mason Jr. The song was received positively and many praised Braxton from breaking away from the ballads. It peaked at number 2 on the Billboard charts and stayed there for several weeks. Ultimately, the song ended up earning Braxton her fourth Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. “He Wasn’t Man Enough” was Braxton’s last appearance on the Billboard Top 100.
It’s Not Right But It’s Okay- Whitney Houston
We all remember this 1999 hit from Whitney from her fourth album My Love Is Your Love. It was marketed as the continuation of “Heartbreak Hotel.” The third single from the album, it peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 of 1999. Houston won a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for the song. The hit was written by LaShawn Daniels, Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III, Isaac Phillips, and Toni Estes and was produced by Darkchild…aka Rodney Jerkins.
Angel In Disguise – Brandy
Love this song! “Angel in Disguise” was featured on Brandy’s second album Never Say Never back in 1999. It was written by Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III, LaShawn, Traci Hale and Tye- V Turman. Interestingly, Brandy produced this song along with Rodney Jerkins. It also features background vocals from Joe. (We should have known!) The song charted before second single “Top of the World” peaked at number 72 on the Billboard Top 100. Daniels would write for all of the songs on the Never Say Never album.
If You Had My Love – J Lo
There was some drama behind this song as a similar–as in almost identical–song was written for Chanté Moore…Womp. According to Moore, she was supposed to release it as the single from her second album but it was rewritten for Lopez at Puffy’s request. Moore ended up shelving “If I Gave Love,” the version she recorded. Moore says, “We should have been aggressive instead of backing off our single, we backed off of it because J.Lo had such a machine at the time. We should have just stepped out.” The song was written by Jerkins, LaShawn Daniels, and Cory Rooney. Jerkins was also the producer. It ended up topping the charts internationally.
Can’t Leave ’em Alone- Ciara
Remember back in 2006-2007 Ciara and 50 Cent had their little thing and she featured him in her video for the song “Can’t Leave ’em Alone”? It might have actually being written about 50 Cent himself. The song was reportedly about “hood boys.” The song which was the second single from her album was written by Ciara, LaShawn, Rodney Jerkins and Curtis Jackson (50 Cent).
Lose My Breath – Destiny’s Child
This song was written by a whole bunch of people including Beyoncé, Kelly, Michelle, Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins, Sean Garrett, LaShawn Daniels, and Shawn Carter (Jay Z). The song was a single from the fourth Destiny’s Child Studio album Destiny Fulfilled. It was developed by Jerkins before it got to the group but they altered it with help from Jay Z, hence the writing credit. Apparently, Beyoncé and Michelle heard just the drums, a sample from the University of Michigan Marching Band, and liked it. Then Jay Z wrote the chorus–without hearing the song– and then everyone else wrote the verses around it. It was the lead single in 2004 and was considered a comeback after a three year hiatus. It was one of the group’s most successful and was nominated for a Grammy in 2005. The video, which features the women fighting themselves, was also nominated for a Grammy.
Love and War – Tamar
You know what it is with “Love and War,” the song was the lead single from Tamar’s album of the same name and was written by Braxton, Daniels and another songwriter whose work you know but whose name you might not, Makeba Riddick. If you watch the show, “Tamar and Vince” then you know that Tamar was gunning for “Hot Sugar” to be released first. But Vince felt it was important that Tamar show off her vocal range and “Love and War” was the song to do that. As you might assume the song was about Tamar and her man. Braxton said, “I’ve been in love before and I’ve gotten my feelings hurt before but I’ve never experienced passion until I met Vince. I’ve never argued this much with a person, and I’ve never loved this hard. That’s what this song is about.” Within hours of its release, the song shot to the number one on the iTunes chart and eventually sold 84,000 downloads in a week. It was number 57 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won song of the year at the Soul Train Awards. It was nominated for two Grammys.
Say My Name – Destiny’s Child
“Say My Name” was written by LaShawn Daniels, Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III, and all the rest of the ladies of Destiny’s Child. (The LaTavia and LeToya years.)The song was the third single from the group’s second studio album The Writing’s On The Wall. This was the first time Destiny’s Child worked with Rodney Jerkins. Initially, Beyoncé didn’t like the song at all saying there was too much stuff going on and it sounded like a jungle. But they reworked it and the group liked it a bit better. The song went on to become one of Destiny’s Child’s signatures and won the group two Grammys in 2001, Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group and Best R&B Song.
One Wish – Ray J
Oooh Ray J. As much as we have to say about this dude, I must admit I love his third (Who knew?!) studio album Raydiation. The Rodney Jerkins produced hit peaked at number 11 on the Billboard charts and became Ray J’s first single to reach top 20. It was written by Ray J, Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III and Daniels.
Top of the World – Brandy
This song, released in 1998, was from Brandy’s Never Say Never album as well and was written by Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III, Mase, LaShawn Daniels, Traci Hale, Isaac Phillips, and Nycolia Turman. It was the second single from the album. I know the black community loved this song but on the Billboards it only peaked at 44 on the Hot 100. It did better in Europe.
Telephone – Lady Gaga
This 2010 song from Gaga’s third studio album The Fame Monster was written by Gaga (Stefani Germanotta), Jerkins, Daniels, Lazonate Franklin and Knowles. Literally, the song is about a lover who won’t let Gaga dance because he (or she) keeps calling her. But figuratively it’s also about Gag’a’s obsession with work. She said, “…something that I have or fear is never being able to enjoy myself…’Cause I love my work so much, I find it really hard to go out and have a good time… I don’t go to nightclubs,… You don’t see pictures of me falling out of a club drunk. I don’t go and that’s because I usually go and then, you know a whiskey and a half into it, I got to get back to work.” Gaga originally wrote the song for Britney Spears’ Circus album but Britney wasn’t feeling it. When the song leaked and people liked it, Spears was supposed appear as the guest vocalist but Gaga tapped Beyoncé instead. Gaga later revealed that her emotional connection to the song makes it difficult for her, saying “the mix and the process of getting the production finished was very stressful for me. So when I say it’s my worst song it has nothing to do with the song, just my emotional connection to it.”
You Rock My World- Michael Jackson
Ayye! You made it to the end.
I absolutely love this song from Michael’s tenth studio album Invincible. It was the lead single from the album written by Jackson, Rodney and Fred Jerkins, Daniels and Nora Payne. Michael and Jerkins also worked to produce the record. (All of the instruments you hear on the record are played by either Jackson or Jerkins.)This song was leaked to the radio and requests to hear it were bananas. Everyone wanted to hear it. Eventually the record company had to call and ask them to stop playing the song because there were “dangers” in releasing it too early. It didn’t seem to hurt it too much though. The song went to the top ten on charts across the worldwide.