When I think about Dallas Austin, the first thing that comes to my head is Chilli’s baby daddy and then producer. Before today, I just associated him with TLC’s music. But I’ve learned he’s got so much more going for him. He’s worked with a slew of people, producing some of our absolute, all time favorite classics. So let’s get into it: songs you didn’t know Dallas Austin wrote or produced…or both.
7 Day Weekend – Grace Jones
I know my Boomerang fans will appreciate this one. As you know Grace Jones is a Jill of all trades. Not only is she a model and actress, she also lent her vocal talents to the Boomerang soundtrack, which is everything if you ain’t know. The song which is played at the beginning of the film, was written by Austin, Jones and Satch Hoyt. So you can go ahead and add songwriter to Jones’ resume. Austin also produced the song with Randy Ran.
Blowin’ Me Up (With Her Love) – JC Chasez
Remember when N’Sync went their separate ways? Justin was the one with all the buzz around his name. But second in line was JC Chasez. His first solo song, which I really dug, was called “Blowin’ Me Up (With Her Love).” You may remember it was featured on the Drumline soundtrack which makes sense considering Drumline is loosely based on Austin’s life and he executive produced the film. He wrote the song with JC and produced it on his own. Austin also appears in the video driving a monster truck. See if you can spot him…it’s not hard.
Don’t Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)- Monica
A true classic right here. My spirit still quickens when the bass drops on this track. It’s everything. The 1995 hit was written by Austin along with Willie James Baker, Daryl Simmons, Charleton Ridenour, Marlon Williams and James Todd Smith (Y’all know him by his stage name LL Cool J.) It was produced entirely by Austin. The song contains a sample of Cool J’s 1993 song “Back Seat (Of My Jeep)” and Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise.” There are also elements from the old school song “You’re Getting a Little Too Smart” by The Detroit Emeralds which was sampled in Cool J’s song. As you know, the song was a smash. It spent two weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot R&B Songs and peaked at number two on the Bilboard Hot 100, making Monica, at 14, the youngest artist to have two consecutive number one hits on the Billboard R&B chart. Austin would work with Monica again and again to either write or produce songs like “Like This and Like That,” “Miss Thang,” “Misty Blue” and “Street Symphony,” all of which are my jams.
Hit Em Up Style (Oops!)- Blu Cantrell
I know you all know this song, really the only song most of us know from singer Blu Cantrell. The least we can say is that she came out with a bang. This song was everywhere. Featured on Blu’s 2001 debut album So Blu the song was written and produced entirely by Austin. Actually, Cantrell didn’t like the song artistically but apparently she was going through something and decided to include it on the album. Good choice. “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!)” ended up charting in the top forty of the Billboard Hot 100 at number two.
Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg- TLC
We already know that TLC is the group with whom Dallas is most closely associated. And for good reason. In addition to writing “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” along with a gang of other people including Lisa Lopes, he produced their entire debut album Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip with Babyface, L.A. Reid, De Funky Bunch, Jermaine Dupri and Marley Marl. He and Left Eye wrote virtually every song together.
And aside from the baby he gave Chilli, the Austin TLC collaboration didn’t end there. Dallas would produce on all of the TLC’s subsequent albums writing/producing songs like “Creep,” “Damaged,” “Silly Ho,” and “Unpretty” to name a few.
Iesha- Another Bad Creation
How could we forget the little boys singing about the girl they were crushing on at school all while they drove go carts, played “at the plaaaayground” and danced for their little lives? It was too precious. If you remember the video, you know that Dallas and Michael Bivins are featured. That’s because they wrote the song. In fact, in the middle of the song, Bivins tells the listening audience that these boys remind him of the guys from his group New Edition back in the day. The “Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike” is interspersed in the audio before the members of Another Bad Creation say their own names. The Austin produced track was the debut single for the group and it reached number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Christmas Cheer- The Boys
In my house, it’s not Christmas until the Christmas Cheers From Motown: Motown Christmas Album is played. The whole album is brilliant but I particularly loved “Christmas Cheer” by another boy band called The Boys. The Boys were not only cute, they could sing…in my prepubescent opinion. So of course I loved the song. But I had no idea that Dallas Austin wrote and produced it along with Joyce Irby. Joyce and Dallas would team up again on that same album, to produce the song “Remember Why It’s Christmas,” though it was written by James Harris III and Terry Lewis (aka Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis).
I’ll Dip – Aretha Franklin
In 1998, Aretha Franklin was in the process of revamping her sound and career. You may remember she teamed up with Lauryn Hill for the smash hit “A Rose Is Still A Rose” (Hill wrote and produced the record entirely on her own.) The song was featured on the album bearing the same name. My daddy had this record and one of the songs that stood out, in addition to the single was the Dallas Austin written and produced “I’ll Dip.” This wasn’t Austin’s only contribution. He’s listed as the first producer of the project, along with Diddy, Jermaine Dupri, Lauryn Hill and Daryl Simmons.
Like Ya Use To – Heather Headley
This is another album my father used to bump around the house. Heather Headley is so underrated if you ask me. But that’s another story for another day. Apparently, Austin saw something in her talent as well because he worked with her for her debut album This Is Who I Am for a song called “Like Ya Use To.” Austin wrote and produced it along with Jasper Cameron. The song sounds nothing like Dallas’ other work. With a harmonica sound and ad-libs that sound like a frog belching in the swamp, it puts you in the mind of the deep rural south. Austin also played guitar for other songs on the project.
Just Like A Pill – Pink
And speaking of songs that don’t sound like anything else in his catalog, there’s also this collaboration. I always appreciated this song but I had no idea that Dallas Austin co-wrote it with Pink. Austin served as the only producer for the song. Released in 2002, it was recorded for Pink’s second studio album Missundaztood. The song deals with painful relationships and drug abuse. Pink said the song shows part of who she is, referencing her documented problems with drugs. The song was a hit and peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100.
Motown Philly – Boyz II Men
I’m super late because I never noticed that Boyz II Men, at the very beginning of the song, say, “Yo, what’s up Dallas.” There it is. Though he produced the song himself, he wrote it with Michael Bivins, Nathan Morris, and Shawn Stockman. Now, that I’ve told you Dallas produced “Iesha,” it’s not such a stretch to consider the fact that he also produced “Motown Philly.” The songs are very similar, with the New Jack Swing sound. In fact, the group shouts out Another Bad Creation and Bell Biv Devoe with the lyric: “Boyz II Men, ABC, BBD.” (Had no idea!) “Motown Philly,” released in 1991, was the debut single from the group’s first album Cooleyhighharmony. You already know the single was a success and it went on to reach number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. And is still, arguably, the group’s signature jam. This wasn’t the last time Dallas worked with the Philly fellas. He would produce songs like “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” “Uhh Ahh” and one of my jams “Under Pressure.”
I Like It – Sammie
Awww! Remember Sammie? Such a cutie. These days he goes by the name Leigh Bush… Anyway, before the switch up, he was just a twelve year old kid trying to break into the music industry. And to help launch his career, he tapped producer Dallas Austin to write his debut single “I Like It.” Though Sammie was only 12 years, he shares writing credits with Austin. Impressive, right? Dallas is credited as the sole producer for the song. If you watch the video closely, you’ll see Sammie is backed up by former boy band “N-Toon” which featured singer Lloyd. The 1999 song was a hit. It was number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 7 on the R&B Singles and was eventually certified gold.
The Boy is Mine – Brandy and Monica
You may remember this song from a list we published not too long ago: songs written by LaShawn Daniels. True story, Daniels wrote it but Austin produced it along with Brandy and Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins. Initially, Brandy and Monica recorded the song separately and since Monica had worked with Austin so many times before, he also produced this record and shares a main credit.