Raphael Saadiq has written smash hits that have been the soundtrack to many of our lives.
And the singer, whose new album Jimmy Lee dropped in late August, opened up to the ladies of ESSENCE’s Yes, Girl! podcast about how some of his forever songs came to be.
Take D’Angelo’s 1996 hit “Lady” off his debut album Brown Sugar, a song that Saadiq said nobody wanted despite writing it years before he met the R&B singer.
“I had ‘Lady…maybe six years before I met D’Angelo. I wrote a big part of ‘Lady’ like the chorus and the music,” he said, adding that his manager even told him that “everything you write is not a hit“ after struggling to place the song.
“But when I met D,” he continued, “I said, ‘I got this idea and I started playing it and he just looked at me and said, ‘I like it.’ So we started writing the lyrics together, to the verse.”
“It’s for him because at that time it’s like you can’t hold anything, and if you hold things, you might stunt your growth of ever having the opportunity to write another one because you’re so afraid to something them go,” Saadiq added.
Saadiq also worked with the late John Singleton on some of his biggest hits. For Singleton’s debut film, Boyz N The Hood, Saadiq wrote “Just Me and You,” which ended up on the soundtrack of the 1991 classic.
“I recorded it in my mom’s house, in my first bedroom ever,” Saadiq said. “I wrote it there, sang it there, and I gave it to John. So John never let me see the movie. He just told me that it’s going to be a scene with Nia Long and Cuba Gooding Jr., and they’re going to be in the locker room and … it’s going to be their first kiss. And so I just wrote ‘Just Me and You’ after he told me, that’s all he told me.“
Singleton used the same process for “Ask Of You,” featured on the Higher Learning soundtrack, only telling Saadiq that the song was for a character named Deja (played by a young Tyra Banks).
“That’s all he told me. And then I wrote ‘Ask of You.’ That was it. Just like that,” he boasted.
Catch more gems in the latest Yes, Girl! podcast episode with Raphael Saadiq below