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Aww Here It Goes: Kenan & Kel Look Back On Their Hit Show 20 Years Later

VIBE talks with the two co-stars about their best memories from the 90s show. 

Before the term was ever pegged, Kenan Rockmore and Kel Kimble were all of our "squad goals." From their slap-stick humor in opening scenes before the curtain called, to the back and forth banter between bros, the Kenan & Kel show introduced a best friendship that would keep 90s kids rolling well into adulthood.

Believe it or not, it's been 20 years to the day since Kenan & Kel premiered on Nickelodeon on August 17, 1996. And although reruns of the hit sitcom can be caught after midnight (if you're lucky) on 90s Are All That (turned The Splat), millennials are still reciting lines from the show and professing their love for orange soda.

Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell, the show's dynamic duo had frequently been paired together on the popular Nickelodeon skit, All That, before being cast as the wise-cracking, Chicago teenagers who always managed to get in trouble for their mischievous schemes. But the self-titled show took their bromance and improvisation to another level. Kenan, the mastermind and brains of many operations always left us on a cliffhanger, wondering why he needed miscellaneous objects like a screwdriver or a can of tuna. Meanwhile, his fun-loving and ditzy companion, Kel, had the punch line and a bottle of his favorite bubbly drink on deck.

Looking back on two decades and four seasons of Kenan & Kel, it still creates all those great feelings of nostalgia. The best friends have parted ways since the show's end in July 2000, but they still look back on their time together with the same fondness as the generation they inspired. In celebration of Kenan & Kel's 20th anniversary, VIBE caught up with the co-stars to hear about their favorite memories and fun facts.

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VIBE: How did you guys find out about getting the show at the time? 

Kenan: Bryan and Dan approached me and Kel and pulled us aside, and they asked us how we would feel about having our own show. We looked at each other like, ‘Man, stop playing. Of course it would be the best thing ever.’ I think it was a two-minute type of a meeting. We were going to try and shoot a pilot during our Christmas, holiday break, and that’s exactly what we did. Then they picked the show up, and it started right after the All That season.

Kel: We would always hang out and crack jokes in between scenes on All That. The writers saw that and wanted to put together a Kenan & Kel spinoff show. Kim Bass, who also created Sister Sister, Brian Robbins, Mike Tollin, and Dan Snyder and all of those great guys who took a hand in making All That amazing, worked on Kenan and Kel. I remember they took us to the side close to the last week on All That, and they said, ‘Hey, how do you guys feel about starring in your own show? It’s going to be a sitcom like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Martin.’ I was like, 'Oh man, that’s awesome.' Kenan and I were so excited. We shot the pilot episode. And it was cool because it was really different than All That. All That was a sketch show, many crazy characters. And this was more real, but it still had the same hilarity.

Did you know the show was going to be so well received?

Kenan: It was all a shock. We were so happy just to be doing this, and then the fact that people caught on to it, was just an awesome thing. We were blown away from the fact that All That had TLC, Aaliyah, Usher, and all these people coming through. We didn’t know our show was overly popular; we just thought we were part of a cool thing that was happening at Nickelodeon. But we wanted people to love it because we would go to the mall and stand around and see if anybody noticed us. And they didn’t, not for a while at least. But now, it’s more of a nostalgia thing. I’m glad that people love the show. It was our blood, sweat, and tears. It’s as much a part of my childhood as anybody else’s.

Kel: It’s really been a blessing. It says a lot to all the writers and the producers, and Nickelodeon because it still holds up.

The theme song with Coolio is still remembered as one of the best theme songs along with Sister Sister and The Proud Family. How did that come about?

Kenan: Coolio had been on All That before. He was already down with the production family. So I guess they turned to him and asked him if he would do it and he did it! It was like Christmas Eve for us, hanging out at Universal Studios with Coolio. It was awesome.

Kel: When we did the theme song, the day we shot it at Universal Studios City Walk in LA, Coolio got on the radio station on Big Boy’s Neighborhood!, and was like, 'Yeah, we’re doing this theme song for Kenan & Kel. Everybody come down.’ And all of LA was at City Walk that day. That place was super packed. That was a huge moment.

The show is pretty ‘iconic’ for 90s kids and even younger generations that didn’t get a chance to watch 90s Nick went it was airing. Why do you think the show was able to last beyond its time?

Kenan: It was the genuine friendship that we had. It’s the same way when I watched Friends now. I look back at Friends, and it’s like they look so comfortable and so natural with each other. It was like they were destined to do that show. And it was so natural for us. It didn’t seem like we were trying or making an effort to be there and do it. It was a pleasure to work on the show. I think that’s what really comes across the screen of how much fun we had together. When I watch the episodes I barely remember that hair cut, but I remember how silly we were when we’re going back and forth with each other. There were good times.

Kel: Kenan & Kel reminds me of I Love Lucy. You could turn on I Love Lucy right now and those stories were years ago, but they still hold up; they’re still funny. Like the orange soda thing, I didn’t know that it would blow up like it did. Dan wrote it, and it just said ‘Who loves orange soda? I do, I do,' but they allowed us to ad-lib and improv. So I threw a little sing-songy on it, and it just took off. I think right there we saw the magic of the show. The stories that we had, the friendship of Kenan and Kel, it was just a fun story. If I’m flipping channels and see it, I have to stop and watch it and laugh.

What are some of your greatest memories on or off screen during the show?

Kenan: It’s a mixture. There’s obviously work memories where we are laughing so hard that we can’t get through certain takes. We were just having fun. Kel would make me laugh and then I would try to make him laugh. And that’s how we would spend the day. Also, outside of work, hanging out in the same apartment complex, at nights doing laundry, walking back, throwing up because of the smell of the sprinklers and memories like that. I smelled those sprinklers [outside of the set] and puked in front of everybody, and all Kel did was laugh at me. It was amazing.

Kel: There are so many great episodes. A lot of our episodes were directed by child stars who were adult at that time – Kim Fields, Freeman, Malcolm-Jamal Warner. So that was cool for us as well. I remember we had a ton of great celebrity guests that would come on to the show. One of my favorite episodes is where I got to rap on the show. I rapped about orange soda, but that was pretty cool. But there were so many memorable moments. One of the most memorable moments was in the pilot when Kenan and I were excited about him getting a new car because he just got his driver’s license. We were sitting there on the couch trying to imagine what would happen with us in this new car. It was just this crazy moment of us hitting the horn, talking to girls, rolling down the window. Every time we shot it, it was different every time because we were just improving and ad-libbing. The thanksgiving episodes were pretty fun. I got to run around with a turkey because my hand got stuck in the turkey.

Is there something that people actually don’t know about the show or your characters?

Kenan: We never had any characters go missing. No one went up stairs and never came back. But I don’t know if people really know, when you shoot a TV show like you’re really family and it really works, it’s because it seems real to everybody, even to us. We were all so very close. I don’t think people really know how much we enjoyed doing it as much as people enjoyed watching it. Kel and I will be brothers for life. I’m so glad to have gone on that journey with him. I can’t believe 20 years have gone by; it’s been a flash.

Kel: The name. Everyone goes crazy about the name, like, 'How did they come up with Kenan and Kel?' And I remember it was a dinner that we had. They didn’t have a name at all. It was this huge list of all these crazy names like: Two Friends, Me and My Homie. It was just a whole bunch of names and Kenan and I are sitting there like, ‘I don’t know.’ Everyone had to put in the hat which one they liked, and I can’t remember who it was, but someone got up and was like, ‘Just name it after them.’ And that’s how it happened. There were talks at that time of a Kenan & Kel Goes to College. We were going to do that at another station as part of Viacom, but that didn’t pan out. We probably would have just kept going: Kenan and Kel get jobs, grown up.

What lines do people frequently quote around you?

Kenan: It’s always orange soda. 'Who loves orange soda?' 'Where the orange soda at?' 'Soda man, orange drink guy.' Then I’m like that’s Kel’s thing; that’s not really my thing. And they’re like, ‘Well, yeah, but you was on it, too.’

Kel: 'Aww, here it goes' is big. People want me to say [it] with them. Some people come up to me with requests like Kenan used to do at the end of the show. They’ll be like, ‘Hey, Kel, go grab me this…’ And then I have to say, ‘Aww, here it goes.’ They'd wait for me to say it if I didn’t. Another one is, 'I put the screw in the tuna,' which is also one of my favorite episodes. And of course, 'orange soda' is number one.

Do you remember the moment you taped the last episode of the series?

Kenan: It happened weirdly. It was kind of still up in the air whether it was going to be the end or not. Then we did a three-part episode that was supposed to be a movie, but they just played it as an episode. And that was it. I kind of knew it was over, but we were just celebrating the end of the season as usual, and then contracts were up and we decided to move on. It was very surreal and scary. It wasn’t like I said goodbye and went right into a new job. It was our first experience of being an adult actor for hire.

Kel: It was emotional because we’d been working together for so long. But then for Kenan and I, we were still doing All That. We knew we would still see each other, but for parting with the rest of our cast, it was a chapter that was closed. We still stay in contact with everybody which is cool. I just saw Ken Foree, who played Kenan’s dad the other day.

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VIBE Vault: Jada Pinkett Smith Talks Motherhood, Marriage & Sexiness In May 2001 Issue

Ever since playing streetwise Lena James on the college-campus sitcom A Different World, Jada Pinkett Smith has portrayed many a sexy shortie with attitude, boast a tough-as-nails swagger with a dash of vulnerability. Her film career—highlighted by Menace II Society, A Low Down Dirty Shame, Set It Off, Jason’s Lyric, and Woo—has been dotted with every possible permutation of the strong ghetto girl in distress.

But with mature roles like Bamboozled’s socially conscious Sloan Hopkins tucked under her belt, the Baltimore native who once spit verse with a teenaged Tupac Shakur in high school is proving to be more than the stereotypical neck-swiveling drama queen. Pinkett Smith has taken on a roster of challenging characters: exploring family matters in Fox Searchlight’s April release Kingdom Come, as well as starring in the highly anticipated pictures Ali (with husband Will Smith) and The Matrix 2 and 3.

But don’t think this woman is strictly business. The 29-year-old feels the upside of growing pains in both her professional and personal lives. As the mother of two youngsters (Jaden Christopher Syre, 2, and Willow Camille Reign, 6 months) and stepmom to 6-year-old Trey, Pinkett Smith is macking the maternal lifestyle—juggling play circles, early morning call times, and a little conjugal nookie on the side with the talented Mr. Smith. This pint-size fireplug’s still got teeth-gritting edge.

VIBE: Tell me about your character Charisse in Kingdom Come. I hear she’s pretty headstrong.

Jada Pinkett Smith: Definitely, but she’s a fool. She’s really self centered and headstrong about all the wrong things; she can’t see outside of herself. The patriarch of the family has passed away, and her focus is still all about her. It’s like, Sis, it's not all about you right now.

Co-starring with LL Cool J, Whoopi Goldberg, Vivica A. Fox, Toni Braxton, et al, you’re doing another movie with a predominantly black cast. But you know what they say about working with our people…

It’s always been such a pleasure working with black directors and black casts, because you don’t have to spend a lot of time explaining yourself. It’s the same reasons why white people do all white films. These are the people you can relate to, that have the same experiences as you. I’ve never had any drama, only love. Like in Set It Off: There was so much buzz that there was going to be some drama with four black women working together, but that was probably the most fun I’ve ever had on a film.

You’re married to Anthony Anderson’s character in Kingdom Come. Can we expect any love scenes like you’ve done in the past? We all remember you rolling in the grass with Allen Payne in Jason’s Lyric.

None of that anymore. My older son is a little bit too old for me to be doing that if it’s not with his dad [laughter]! That part of my life is in the past. I’ve got sons now, and I’ve got a little girl. That was the other, younger Jada, who didn’t have any other responsibilities but to herself. Now I’ve got to think about my kids.

Of all the characters you’ve played—from manslaying Woo to stand-by-you-man Lyricto gangsta-boo Stoney to knucklehead Charisse—which of your roles is filled with the most Jada?

I really wasn’t in a space of maturity with that character to really fall into the depths of Lyric’s vulnerable space as I would’ve liked to. I think about it today, and I go, Wow, I could have done this and done this. That was another side of myself that I wasn’t comfortable showing yet. And from A Low Down Dirty Shame, Peaches was basically Jada at that time but to the third power. Set It Off was definitely Jada to another level. Stony was rah-rah but not that rah-rah [laughter]! That’s exactly how I would be—scared but [knowing I] gotta do my thing. Woo was truly the other side of Jada, like Honey, please talk to the hand [laughter].

If Woo was your alter ego, how did you deal with trifling men before you met Will? 

The best punishment is just to be out. There's so much you can take, I was definitely one of those chicks that would hang in there for a minute trying to week it out. But once I realized in my head that it just wasn't it, I rolled. Then niggas was was like, “Well, where you going?” I was like, Man. I told you. You saw me hanging in there with your crazy ass, trying to work this out. You know what I'm saying? Now you want to know where I am? I’m somewhere not with you.

Was there a specific incident? 

Nothing really, because when I was younger, I wasn't living right either. I can't really say that someone did anything so bad to me, because whatever they did, I deserved it.

Jada Pinkett Smith is a former playa-playa in repentance? 

You can say it however you want [laughter].. I was young in Hollywood. I didn't know about relationship and commitment. Unfortunately, that's something that we're not really taught, especially in our households. Most of us come from very dysfunctional places. Will is the first monogamous relationship I've had. I never knew what it took to have a healthy relationship or what commitment was all about.

How have the kids impacted your coochie-cooing sessions with Will?

HA HA [big laughter]!!! Well, shoot, kids are always going to put a little damper on that parade, but not so much that you can’t handle your business. They come, and, once again, you have that transition period where you have to find your groove within this new lifestyle you've been given. But it hasn't been drama. We've handled it very well [naughty laughter]. 

Inquiring minds want to know the real deal with Will Smith. Does he come correct in the boudoir? 

I'll just say this one absolute fact. For all the women who want to know, all the women in the VIBE world: Will puts it down! I could not be married or be monogamous with anybody who didn't. That's real [big laughter]! All I have to do is look at Will, and everything gets turned on from that. I'm pretty much an easy catch. He’s got beautiful eyes, and his physique now is out of control ‘cause of Ali. Yeaaahhh… It doesn’t take much for my buttons to get pushed. 

But Will is tall, maybe 6’2”, and you're so petite. 

It doesn't matter. Size doesn't matter. He says this all the time: I can't come at him in a bad way. And I’m like, Whatever, Daddy—just bring it. That's why we're such a happy couple. We can't be mad too long. 

It's great to have such a strong physical connection. 

And also the spiritual connection. The friendship even deepens sexual connection. When all of that is tied in together, it never gets tired. You have your times when you're kind of slow—if you're working, or during pregnancy. That's why it's important to have that friendship and that spiritual connection. That's what keeps it all together until the physical aspect of it booms back in, because everybody has their slow times.

Your children will grow up faster than you realize. What kind of relationship advice will you give them? 

You basically have to go with the flow. I know for my daughter, I probably won't put restrictions on her in a [harsh] way, because, being female myself. I understand the type of freedom a young girl needs. But when I talk about freedom, I mean you have to have a sense of responsibility. That's very difficult in our culture, because we're basically selling being a ho as what it is to be a woman today. If you're not a ho, then you're not really down or you're not really hip. I don't talk about freedom in that sense—basically just giving it away to whomever you want. There was a time when black women were very uptight about their sexuality. I think right now we're going through a space where we're finding our freedom as far as our sexuality, but I think we're going to our next extreme. We're going to find that middle ground. I hope by the time my daughter is of age we'll be at that space.

You're considered one of the sexiest people in Hollywood. What’s your definition of sexiness?

Really [laughter]? Well that is quite an honor. I'm learning as I get older, because I haven't always been this way. I'm gaining a better understanding as I mature that what people are attracted to most of all—and especially my husband, who's pretty much the only person I have to worry about these days—is beyond my physical. I'll be 30 this year. I'm moving into a whole other space of my womanhood! So I've kind of outgrown that whole, well let me go out with my short skirts on, with my stomach out or my bust up. I don't necessarily think that's something I have to do. I feel like I've been there like hardcore [laughter]. I might go back to feeling like that. Now I'm finally feeling like a woman, whereas before I was a little girl just trying to be a woman. Now I'm really feeling myself. Trust that with Kingdom Come, Matrix 2 and 3, and Ali, y'all will see a whole new Jada. Believe me. Y’all bouts to see it like y'all haven't seen it. 

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This article originally appeared in VIBE's May 2001 issue. Written by Brett Johnson | Photography by: Isabel Snyder and others.

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'The Old Guard' Celebrates Women On Both Sides Of The Lens, Says Director Gina Prince-Bythewood & Actress KiKi Layne

Gina Prince-Bythewood is not new to this. Her decades-long screenwriting credits go back as far as 1992 when she contributed to the Cosby Show spin-off, A Different World. Her directorial debut happened nearly 10 years later with her 2000 film, Love & Basketball which grossed over $27 million in the U.S. box office and went on to become a black cinematic classic. Since then, Bythewood directed more films like The Secret Life of Bees (2008) and Beyond the Lights (2014). Today, Bythewood is stepping away from the dramatic and romantic films of yesteryear and making her mark in the genre of action films with the new Netflix movie, The Old Guard.

Based on the comic book by Greg Rucka, The Old Guard stars lead actresses Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road, Hancock) and KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk, Native Son). Theron plays Andy, an immortal mercenary recruited for a mission to protect the mortal world. Layne plays Nile, a U.S. Marine recruited to join the badass task force. Before her "rebirth" into her new eternal life as a soldier, she learns about life as an Old Guard, what she'll stand to gain and lose as undying warrior and more.

Upon receiving the script, Bythewood was "incredibly excited" and happy to have an opportunity where she could not only take on a different type of cinema but also bring a young Black female hero to life and into the spotlight. "I knew the type of action film I wanted to do, an action drama," she says in an interview with VIBE correspondent Jazzie Belle. "And I knew absolutely when I got the opportunity, that I wanted us [Black people] to be in it." And that we are. With actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) taking on a supporting role, Layne holds her own in the action-packed feature film as she tests her body's limits in scene after scene. The rising star would be sure to let you know how physicalities set her and her character apart.

"I mean I love the opportunity to be that physical," she says. "Nile still has so much heart and, being led by Gina, being encouraged to dig deeper into that and to not be afraid of her vulnerability, which was exciting. So I kind of play that, but then still play that physical strength and being a Marine and all of that. So I would say that would actually be the biggest difference between us."

The Prince-Bythewood and Layne sat with Belle to discuss the limitations around the term "Black cinema," being a part of a film that has Black women in front and behind the lens, and what they hope for The Old Guard's impact 20 years from now.

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On how music inspires her screenwriting:

Prince-Bythewood: Music is everything to my process. When I start to write, I create soundtracks for myself too. If it's just songs that either speak to what I'm writing or open me up emotionally to what I'm about to write. I have soundtracks for myself for directing, and then I create soundtracks as I'm editing. It's everything and I love doing songs for score. I love the traditional score, but I also love songs for scores. And those are songs that just help elevate the scene, add a little bit more emotion. It doesn't take over the scene, but it absolutely aides it and songs tell such a story...I love soundtracks, it goes back to Purple Rain. Where you could listen to that soundtrack and then watch the movie again in your head because the songs were that distinct, that's what I love to do with my films.

On the Black women she pulled influence from when preparing for her role:

Layne: Black women who I find to be strong and just maybe haven't seen it represented that way on film. Honestly, just thinking about my mom. Angela Bassett was the biggest example of strength. Who else was I thinking of? Those are like the first students to kind of pop in my head of just like, especially with Angela, the way that she just carries herself. There's such pride and dignity and integrity to her that I just, I mean love. Period. But it was definitely something that, when thinking of Nile, trying to bring some of that in there as well.

On the limiting term "Black cinema" as it relates to Hollywood:

The term "Black cinema" is not a negative to me, nor to us. My issue with it is with Hollywood. In terms of Hollywood using that to describe any film that has a black person in it. So suddenly they feel like, "Oh, we've done our one black film." As opposed to, "We should be in every single genre. Sci-fi, Western, love stories, period pieces." That's who we are, that's the breadth of our humanity, that's what I want to see. I just don't want to limit us, but I revel and celebrate black cinema and black film.

On how they would like The Old Guard to be remembered 20 years from now:

Layne: In 20 years from now, I would hope that it would be, you won't necessarily remember, but as a, I don't know, a piece of getting Hollywood to tell more of these types of stories with women at the lead in front of and behind the camera. I'm hoping that it will be an opportunity that leads to more doors like this being opened. Just showing that we're just as capable and it's just as interesting when we do it.

Prince-Bythewood: And then I'll just add in 20 years, if people are still watching this film that says it all, that this film had longevity, it spoke to them and it was a world and it's characters that they wanted to see again and live with again. And as artists, I think that's a pretty incredible thing.

Interview's music bed provided by Gus.

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Watch: Rodney Jerkins Talks Producing On ‘The High Note’ Soundtrack, Andre Harrell And How His Dad Sparked His Career In ‘Billboard’

When you think of your favorite R&B and pop hits by Brandy, Destiny's Child, Mary J. Blige, and Michael Jackson, you can't help but think about the musical genius behind the tracks: Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins. Since his start in the music industry at the young age of 14 (under the mentorship of legendary musician Teddy Riley and his father Pastor Fredrick Jerkins), the Grammy-winning producer has created songs across countries, genres, and mediums.  To date, Jerkins has contributed to over 115 movie and television series soundtracks with his first credit for Joe's "Don't Wanna Be a Player" (not be confused with Big Pun's hit) on the 1996 Booty Call soundtrack.

His latest accomplishment is serving as the executive music producer for the new video-on-demand film, The High Note, starring actress Tracee Ellis Ross, daughter of the legendary Diana Ross. In the Nisha Ganatra-directed  film, Ross plays Grace Davis, a diva and iconic singer who has to "choose between playing it safe or listening to her heart in a decision that could change her life forever." Weeks prior to The High Note's premiere, Focus Features and Republic Records released "Love Myself," the lead single from the movie's soundtrack, which features Ross singing on her very first musical recording. As the film's executive music producer, Jerkins worked with her on another track, "Stop For A Minute," and helped Ross become comfortable with laying down tracks in a music recording studio, an experience she'd only witnessed second-hand while her mother worked on music.

"When we first started, that was Tracy's first time in the booths," says Jerkins about working with Ross. "That can become somewhat intimidating. I said, 'Tracy just trust me. I've worked with every artist. I've worked with actresses who had to sing before.' I said, 'This is what I do. Just have trust that we'll get through it.' As we started to work, her confidence started to build and she started to understand what it took."

VIBE and Cory Taylor of R&B Spotlight had a chance to sit down with Jerkins to talk about his extensive career, working on the official soundtrack for The High Note, his advice for upcoming producers, and more.

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On when he got the call to be a part of the film's soundtrack:

I was in Florida at home and Mike Knobloch, the head of music at Universal, he called me one day. He was just like, "Man, I got a prize that I think you would be perfect for. Would you mind reading the script?" I said, "Yes, send me the script." And this was crazy. I was actually working with an artist at the time. I have this artist named Jac Ross and I was just listening to Lee Moses because Jack has this super soulful voice. In the script, the first scene had a Lee Moses song. I called Mike before reading the rest of the script. I was like, "Yo, this is mine." I said, "The first song. I just studied Lee Moses two days ago." So the fact that the first song in the scene was a Lee Moses song called "Bad Girl," I was like, this is mine.

On how his Dad sparked his start in the music business:

I got started with Teddy Riley working in Virginia Beach. I was kind of this apprentice down there. I was 14 when I first met Teddy. Every summer I'd go down there and just kind of sit and learn. I would go back home and work on stuff and work on ideas. It wasn't really until I was probably 16 or 17 when I really got my first songs heard by record companies, and people started paying attention saying, "Yo, there's this kid in New Jersey." I think what really sparked that and my father, who was mentoring me at the time, I think I said to him one day, "I got all this good music, but nobody knows who I am, because I'm from South Jersey, Pleasantville." There's no outlet down there. My dad invested money out of his own pocket, and he bought this ad in Billboard.

At first, people thought he was crazy because there were no ads in Billboard. Like if you looked through Billboard, it was just charts. For some reason my dad, he bought this ad and in this ad it said: "Super producer." I was young and wasn't a super-producer yet. He put this ad in and 50% of the people laughing at it were saying, "Yo, this is crazy. This dude is crazy." You had the other 50% of people calling and saying, "Yo, we want to meet."

 

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Dad, Thanks for instilling in me Christ at an early age. It’s because of you I choose to lead my family in that same direction. You’ve given me so many great moments as a child growing up. Believing in me when others didn’t. Pushing me to greatness. Being unconventional with your approach is exactly the way I do things to this day. Demanding respect from my counterparts. Not being taken advantage of, and being prayerful about everything. These are the life lessons and qualities you have given me. By watching you apply all of these things in your life I’ve learned to do the same. I appreciate you and love you dearly! HAPPY FATHERS DAY DAD!

A post shared by Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins (@rodneyjerkins) on Jun 21, 2020 at 4:51pm PDT

On his fondest memory of the late Andre Harrell:

He would call me up when I wasn't working with him. I remember when I did "Deja Vu" for Beyonce and Jay-Z. I was in New York City, the song was out, and Andre called and said, "Yo, where you at?" I said, "I'm in this old studio." "I'm coming to see you right now. I'm coming to see you right now." I ain't know what he wanted. He came up to the studio. He was like, "Playboy, playboy. Do you know what you just did? Do you know what you just gave this girl?" And I was like, "Nah," because I'm just keeping it moving.

He's like, "Man, you gave her Michael Jackson, 2005, like you gave her the Michael Jackson 'Don't Stop Til You Get Enough' for a female like this." I was like, "What you mean?" He was like, "The way you put the horns with the live bass and the drums, and still knocking with the 808, people aren't doing that." He was so animated when he spoke to you. He made you believe there's something much greater in yourself. That was my guy, man. He did that constantly with me. He would be like that all the time. I'm talking about even like three months ago, like in February, we had a similar conversation.

Advice to up and coming producers looking to get their foot in the music business:

First, I would say study all the greats that came before you. I'm not talking in the last 10, 20 years. I'm talking about going back, going back to Barry Gordy days, and study them. Study sound. Every sound and every genre possible. Don't be a one-trick pony. Be able to produce any type of genre. I would also say be different. What I mean by that, a lot of technology has allowed it for producers to become easy, but it's also become easy in the same sonic, in the same sound. All the tools are the same. You have everybody using the same tools right now. It all starts to sound the same. I would tell producers to challenge themselves to be different. Be unique, be different.

On his future plans to produce music for films: 

I'm going to continue to do movies. I've made it my thing. I can't say it right now, but it looks like I got another movie coming my way right now. With the same company, by the way. I'm going to continue to do it because I love it. I think it brings out a whole different side of emotion for me. It allows me to create differently. Sometimes we get caught up in what's popping at radio, what's popping streaming...I would love to do more in the TV and film realm because I just think that's the natural progression for me and my career.

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