’90s No. 1s Revisited: “This Is How We Do It”
The eighty-seventh No. 1 song of the 1990s was “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan. This track was Jordan’s debut single, and remains his only No. 1 hit, although he went on to send seven more singles into the Hot 100, including two into the Top 5: 1998’s “Let’s Ride” (peak: 2), featuring Master P and Silkk the Shocker, and 1999’s “Get It On Tonite” (peak: 4), his last charting single as of this writing. Jordan continued to release material that popped up in the lower regions of the R&B chart in the ’00s, but he is widely seen as a ’90s act.
Jordan is a sufficiently capable (Grammy-nominated, even) singer who also co-wrote his most popular singles, which were nondescript, generic R&B offerings. He is perhaps best remembered for being very tall, as he explains thusly in “This Is How We Do It”: All they said was 6’8″ he stood, and people thought the music that he made was good. That pretty well captures Jordan’s artistic angle — a boy next door from the West Side who likes to have a good time and get the party going. That’s how he does it.
Let’s give “This Is How We Do It” a fresh listen:
This track achieved a level of success we found curious at the time, because it’s a pretty trite recording, especially the lyrics. But we kind of liked it anyway. When we went to summer camp shortly after this track hit No. 1, we performed an acoustic guitar rendition of this song, for humor. An assistant director chastised us for being inappropriate, since the song contains the phrase “gang bangers.” Such a quaint thing to find objectionable, in retrospect. That assistant director would probably collapse of a coronary if he heard what was on the charts now. But we digress: “This Is How We Do It” was appealing because of, rather than despite, its simplicity. It’s catchy. That said, we’re a bit miffed it kept Adina Howard’s “Freak Like Me” from reaching No. 1. Frankly, we’d rather be writing about that song. One to the two to the two to the three; Adina, do you wanna get freaky with me? That’s good stuff. But “This Is How We Do It” has its appeal.
Was it dope? Yes, “This Is How We Do It” was decidedly on trend, and Jordan had an appeal that struck the right balance between hard and soft. He was accessible and non-threatening but with enough of an edge that he ruffled the feathers of our camp’s assistant director.
Does it hold up? To our amazement, the video has more than 58 million views as of this writing. We’re not sure what would prompt anyone to seek out this song/video, but apparently it continues to hold appeal for some people.
Dopeness: 3 out of 5 Birkenstocks
’90s No. 1s Revisited is a regular feature on “Was It Dope?” where we walk through every No. 1 song of the 1990s on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in order, give it another listen, and answer two critical questions: Was it dope? And does it hold up?