The Kings of Funk, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis are an American dream team! This duo is behind some of the biggest songs in R&B & pop history. Working with incredible acts such as Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Chaka Khan, Mary J. Blige, Usher and Michael Jackson, they are easily the most successful songwriter and producer duo PERIOD. Why? Well from soulful ballads to the most funky uptempo bop of a song, they’ve been keeping audiences intrigued since the early 1980s. They have 16 Billboard Hot 100 #1 hits, and over 25 #1 hits on the R&B charts. Amazing stuff, right? I wanted to create a post where I give producers their appreciation because they deserve their flowers just as much as the artists do.
If you’re unfamiliar with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis..well they are from Minneapolis, Minnesota..where they met and formed a band called Flyte Tyme. Eventually, that group would evolved into The Time..the group responsible for the “Minneapolis sound” and affiliates of the late great Prince. (Eventually their career took off so they aren’t behind The Time’s biggest songs..but they were behind Morris Day’s 1988 hit Fishnet:)
The magic that happens behind the scenes are just as important as the artist giving us the show. So without further ado, let’s go back down memory lane and look at the countless hits Jimmy and Terry were behind:
Known for her hits “Got to Be Real” & “If This World Were Mine,” Cheryl Lynn had another R&B jam on her hands with Jimmy & Terry penned “Encore.” A BOP that is one of their earlier hits after cutting ties with The Time.
The SOS Band:
Jimmy & Terry’s success was solidified after working with The SOS Band. Weekend Girl, High Hopes, Tell Me If You Still Care, For Your Love & Just Be Good To Me? PERFECTION!!!
Cherrelle is a R&B QUEEN!! The cousin of Pebbles, Cherrelle collaborated with Jimmy & Terry on her first three albums: Fragile, High Priority & Affair. The music speaks for itself, loves.
Alexander was a member of Flyte Tyme with Jimmy & Terry..so it really is not surprising that they are behind his biggest songs like If You Were Here Tonight, A Broken Heart Can Mend, What’s Missing & of course…his collaborations with Tabu labelmate Cherrelle. Never Knew Love Like This & Saturday Love are TIMELESS HITS!
Jimmy & Terry will forever be known for creating the breakthrough album (Control) Janet needed to break away from her family (read Janet Jackson: Give Our Legends Their Flowers. ) Eventually, they would be Janet’s frequent collaborators and are on all of her albums after Control (excluding 2008’s Discipline). Once again, the work always speaks for itself.
Herb Alpert has an extensive catalog full of great songs, but his 1987 album Keep Your Eye On Me, saw production from Jimmy and Terry. Diamonds was a huge comeback single for Herb, and featured Janet & Lisa Keith. Making Love In The Rain, also a song featuring Janet & Lisa is a quiet storm BOP. It is the best song I’ve ever heard because Herb, Jimmy & Terry are a match made in heaven.
Discovered by Jimmy & Terry & signed to their label, the Minneapolis based group dropped a number of memorable bops in the 1990s.
The iconic brother of Janet collaborated with Jimmy & Terry for his HIStory album, and Scream is the most well known song to come from these sessions (check out HIStory & Tabloid Junkie).
Earlier this year, the New Edition biopic premiered on BET, and was a huge success. In the film, we had the opportunity to see how Jimmy & Terry’s working relationship with New Edition came to be. Jimmy & Terry wrote and produced amazing hits for New Edition like If It Isn’t Love, Can You Stand The Rain, You’re Not My Kind Of Girl, Boys to Men and I’m Still in Love with You. The duo also were behind Ralph and Johnny’s solo projects.
Ralph’s solo work with Jimmy & Terry is very dope. Sensitivity? MAGICAL.
Sounds of Blackness:
Signed to the label Jimmy & Terry created in the 90s, Sounds of Blackness will always be remembered for their 91 hit “Optimistic.” It is still a song I love to listen to..to keep me in high spirits.
Mariah Carey’s work with Jimmy and Terry is SOOOOO underrated. Mariah’s working relationship with the duo began on her 7th studio album, Rainbow. The immaculate Bliss has Mariah channeling her inner Minnie Riperton, the inspirational Can’t Take That Away is simply remarkable. Petals, Thank God I Found You & Against All Odds are also songs that she worked on with the duo and MAN. I can’t describe how great it was done. They also worked with Mariah on the soundtrack to her 2001 film, Glitter. They were behind the cover to their peer Cherrelle’s I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On, Reflections, Want You, Twister and the perfect ballad Never Too Far. The collabs didn’t stop there, with the duo appearing on her 2002 album..Charmbracelet (Through the Rain & Yours).
Karyn White was a superwoman with the hits in the late 80s-early 90s! Her hit Romantic is the most memorable with Jimmy & Terry, but songs like Hungah, I’m Your Woman, One Minute and Ritual of Love should NOT be slept on.
Mary J. Blige:
Mary’s history with Jimmy & Terry goes back to her 1997 album Share My World. Love Is All We Need & Everything are amazing. They also worked with her on the Mary album and No More Drama. Whew. HITS!
I was surprised to find out that this duo worked with one of the kings of R&B, Usher. They’re behind some of Usher’s best songs like U Remind Me, Can U Help Me, Truth Hurts, Simple Things, Bad Girl & That’s What It’s Made For.
the duo worked with Mya on the song free, and it is one of the best songs released in the 2000s.
I Wish I Wasn’t is a BOP! With Heather’s vocals and the duo’s production and impeccable songwriting, I Wish I Wasn’t was an amazing affair.
Chante’s working relationship began on her 1994 album A Love Supreme, and it didn’t stop there. They are behind her biggest hit, “Chante’s Got A Man.” The album cuts on her subsequent albums that are composed by the duo are memorable, such as I Cry To Myself & Better than Making Love.
Boyz II Men:
Boyz II Men’s second studio album saw work from my favorite duo (On Bended Knee & All Around The World). PERFECTION RIGHT?
the late great George Michael’s debut album Faith had a great song called monkey on it. Jimmy & Terry were behind it, and it is greatness in my opinion.
Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis are incredible musicians who are behind the biggest songs in history. Respect needs to be put on their names because they helped shaped the change of R&B, pop & rock music over the past 30+ years. Appreciate these legends. -MJ.