Hell Nawl Report: Darkchild Trades Brandy and Monica for Ariana Grande and Jessie J

jessie j and ariana grandeIt has been rumored that Jessie J and Ariana Grande will be redoing Brandy and Monica’s ubiquitous 1998 hit “The Boy Is Mine.” This is that type of story you just know is false. There’s just no way there is an iota of truth ingrained in it. Except…it’s happening. In real life. And it gets this week’s “Hell Nawl!”

Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins is planning a greatest hits album to celebrate his 20-year anniversary. And what a catalogue he has to choose from: “It’s Not Right but It’s Okay” by Whitney Houston, “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child, “Déjà Vu” by Beyoncé, “He Wasn’t Man Enough” by Toni Braxton and “When I Grow Up” by the Pussycat Dolls. So, the twist is that this new album will have some “reimagined” versions of his most iconic songs.

Sam Smith, of “Stay With Me” fame, will notably be covering Whitney Houston’s “It’s Not Right but It’s Okay” which makes sense as the song is great but not iconic. It also is very easy to see how someone could reinvent it, making it new while also honoring the original.

“The Boy Is Mine” is not the type of song you reinvent.

Presumably due to the chart-topping “Bang Bang“, the hitmaker thinks he can create new magic by reuniting the two wailing women. Sure, this will add immediate buzz to his project, and the song will most definitely get millions of radio spins and iTunes purchases. But really? No shade to Ariana Grande or Jessie J. They both have their merits, and I think Jessie J is one of the most underrated vocalists out right now. However, “The Boy Is Mine” has that “I Will Always Love You” status. You just don’t touch it because you’ll never be able to match that magic that was made on that track.

Not to mention the obvious racial divide. I guess by “reimagined” Jerkins just means “whitened.”

At its most basic level, Rodney Jerkins is taking a monumentally successful song he made with two African American women and replacing them with two white women. And that just reeks of playing to white America.

In a country still seeking to be colorblind, many might dismiss this write-up as “race baiting” or “white bashing.” In their eyes, Jerkins just wants to get two big names with great voices, right? Because there are no young non-white performers that might be more suited for the job? Well, no. That just isn’t the case. He could have remained in the genre and lane of the song and “reinvented” it with male artists like Luke James and Tank. Perhaps he could have really laid down the vocals with Jazmine Sullivan and Tamar Braxton. These reimagined versions would remain true to the R&B feel of the song and add diverse vocality.

In addition, this just adds to the continual Brandy undermining that Rodney Jerkins has been doing since the two parted ways after her Full Moon album. He forged a new sound with her and her alone, and then took it to make money with other artists. He joined forces with her again on her Human album, but didn’t use his best material. This latest act seems poised to undermine her legacy too by giving younger listeners their own version of her classic.

In case you forgot, this is how “The Boy Is Mine” should always be. And, frankly, this is the only version I’ll ever support acknowledge.

How do you feel about Darkchild remaking his songs? Tell us in the comments section below!

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Daren W. Jackson

Daren is one half of the Water Cooler Convos team. He's a writer, music connoisseur, and comic book geek who spends his free time working on his novel and other short stories.

2 Responses

  1. Mary Burrell says:

    Exactly, Hell Nawl. This is just straight up Whack! Tell both of these idiots to have a seat. It’s not even fresh or original. And i don’t think they can improve on the original.

  2. Chloe A says:

    What do you feel about the new ‘Annie?’ Or ‘Cinderella’ starring Brandy? Aren’t both of these ‘classically white’ stories? Or is it okay to “Blacken” classically White stories, while, according to you, it isn’t okay to “Whiten” classically Black music?