Montell Jordan Opens Up Like Never Before

Montell Jordan has decided to be a little selfish. For his fifth Def Soul release, "Montell Jordan," due Feb. 26, the Los Angeles native made music that means something to him.

Montell Jordan has decided to be a little selfish. For his fifth Def Soul release, "Montell Jordan," due Feb. 26, the Los Angeles native made music that means something to him.

"Normally, I've tried to do joints to make people move," Jordan says. "I'd usually sit down and try to create that formula, but this time I didn't take that approach. I've done that for four albums -- trying to give the public what I thought they wanted. On this album, I really wanted to make something about me and what's going on in my life. This really isn't an album for the public that I used to make records for. I used to make records for street credibility, but this is for women to be able to identify with a man who's trying to be a good man but has some issues."

It wasn't an easy endeavor for the Atlanta-based singer/songwriter. In addition to either writing or co-writing 13 songs and producing more than half of them, Jordan dug deep into himself to offer something more.

"I took the approach of writing and putting together songs that talk about me not being the person that I thought I was," recalls the singer. "When you break it down and you have to look at yourself-I imagine it's like doing time. You have time to sit in your own little cell and reflect on the circumstances that are not your fault, but you also see the circumstances that are your fault. That's what I did on this album."

Jordan also felt it necessary for lead single "You Must Have Been" to be unlike any of his previous offerings. "I wanted this to be like my first album. I didn't want to come out with another uptempo record, sell a million records, have the video played, people love it, the album comes out, goes gold, and I then I drop a ballad and everybody forgets [about me] until I come out with another party record. People are going to have to accept me as an artist rather than for a song."

The singer also addresses the lack of respect he's received in the music industry on "Montell's Anthem." "I'm usually the type of guy that smiles when things are going wrong, but that was just a day when I wasn't smiling, so when I went into the studio, some things came out. A lot of the stuff I really wasn't proud of, but a lot of times that's when your best work comes out: when you're being honest.

"I really don't have any issues with the people that I directly or indirectly talk about in the song," Jordan notes. "I was just a little hurt to hear the things that people praised and the people they found to be the saviors of R&B [at the time]. After four albums, I still don't hear my name being spoken -- they still think of me as a one-hit wonder. When I look around, I see Mary [J. Blige] and I see R. Kelly, but I don't see many other people with five albums."

Def Jam/Def Soul director of marketing Dexter Story says, "We felt it was time to open him up. It's time that people get to know him. This is the first album where he was being himself. That's why the album is self-titled."

Jordan, who co-hosted a Macy's in-store fashion show in New Orleans during the Super Bowl, recently taped an episode of the BET show "How I'm Living." According to Story, "they followed him around as he cooked, bowled, and spent time with his kids."

Retailers like Jim Stella, urban music buyer for Albany, N.Y.-based Trans World Entertainment, believe fans will appreciate Jordan's new sound. "Looking at R&B in general, this [album] will fit right into the groove," Stella predicts. "It's not a retro soul record, but like those records, it's what people seem to be into-not talking about the money and the booty, but rather love and being loved.