It was a warm day on June 23, 1998, when the second single off Canadian-born singer Tamia’s self-titled debut album was released, and a summer classic was born.
On that day when one of Tamia’s most recognizable hits, “So Into You,” settled into a top spot on the airwaves and gave young Black girls around the world a feel-good summer anthem that, to this day, is a guaranteed sing-a-long and bonafide hit.
The track, which was four-minute and 22 seconds of pure R&B goodness, turns 20 this year. And in case you forgot, Tamia co-wrote the song and penned the second verse. During her recent visit to the ESSENCE office, we asked the star about the making of the song, that as she appropriately describes it, “just [feels] good immediately.”
For starters, she said, it touched a lot of people, and thanks to social media she knows that now more than ever.
“I remember where I was, when we were writing the song, what was going on,” said Tamia. “I think that we weren’t really aware of all the social media [that would come], so I really didn’t know what kind of effect the song had on people when I was younger.”
Now folks just can’t stop telling her how impactful the love song was and the memories it helped to create.
“I just had lunch with a very good friend of mine, and she for some reason, felt that she needed [to tell me], she’s like, ‘I remember where I was when ‘So Into You’ came out, and I liked this boy, and I was in my room and I was just singing about him, and my mom was like, what are you doing?!’ And I think that’s what music is about, it kind of takes you back to a place, and time and it does the same thing for me too.”
And boy does “So Into You” take us back. The sweet lyrics, the mid-tempo beat, and the soothing vocals that hum throughout the song, reminded you of being smitten with a crush or going all in on a summer love. Tamia recalls what it was like to create a song that, even now, still captures the attention of new audiences.
While the Internet was not the thriving machine that it is today when th song first emerged, the effects of Tamia’s musical legacy can be found at the click of a button now.
In October 2015, an award-winning household name covered the song and subsequently introduced it to new audiences while allowing the singer to reimagine the summer classic she helped to create.
“Donald Glover (better known for his musical persona as Childish Gambino) covered it and he told the backstory,” Tamia recalls. “He was like, ‘When I was growing up and dating and all the girls loved this song, so I loved it and I had to impress them by singing it,’ and he sang it with such passion and I believed it so I would say his version would probably be my favorite version.”
Tamia Marilyn Hill (née Washington) hails from Windsor, Ontario and catapulted to success in 1995 when she sang a cover of Mica Paris’ “You Put A Move On My Heart” on Quincy Jones’ album, Q’s Jook Joint.
Tamia and Jones’ professional relationship continued as she worked on her debut album and she remembers vividly how involved he was with giving “So Into You” the musical magic that fans fell in love with each time they heard the song.
“I co-wrote the song with two guys called Tim [Kelley] and Bob [Robinson]. They had the song, and they brought it in, and it was an amazing record. I went in to record, and I wrote my verse as we went in to record. Quincy Jones was there, he was listening and (pianist) Greg Fillingaines was there and he’s amazing,” Tamia recalls. “Quincy said, ‘Greg, you should do something on there. Do this,’ and then Greg went and played something on the song, and he was amazing. And, I was like, ‘Okay, I think we have something here.’ Quincy hears it, Greg’s playing on it, and it just felt good immediately.”
And just like that, a hit was born.
The single rose on the Billboard Adult R&B chart, peaking at number five, but remains a classic must-play jam at Black weddings, cookouts, and family reunions summer after summer.
“There are some songs that you record, and you know when you leave that you have something. And, for me in my career, it’s been a couple songs, and certainly [this] was one.”
With an extensive and impressive hit catalog including “Officially Missing You” from the Set It Off soundtrack, “Stranger In My House,” “Sandwich and a Soda,” “Beautiful Surprise” and more, the singer—who is married to former NBA star Grant Hill—prepares to drop her seventh studio album, Passion Like Fire, later this summer. The mom of two admits she can’t just pick one favorite song from her own body of work.
“I don’t know because you have different memories of different songs. And I sing songs from my catalog that were never singles that I love. It changes all the time really, I certainly feel blessed that I’ve been able to continue to perform and do songs and build a catalog. The thing about music is what’s big here, may be different in South Africa. So I sing a lot of songs, I’ve had number ones in other places that I don’t really sing here. The thing that I’m most proud of is that I’ve never put out a song on an album that I personally didn’t like. So, I never have any problems performing songs that I’ve done.”
As her career continues and her catalog grows, the singer shows no signs of slowing down.
“It’s still an amazing feeling, especially [with] a song that’s just so lively and happy and it puts people in a place where they have great memories, and it feels good to be a part of that.”