That’s My Jam is a feature where one person from the Selective Hearing staff goes to wax poetic about music that is pivotal to their musical tastes. Whether that would be an album, a song, or anything in-between, we all had to start somewhere.
Released September 1, 1999
- Something ’bout the Kiss
- You Are the One featuring Imajin
- Something ‘Bout the Kiss (The All Out Mix)
The news that Namie Amuro will retire next year got me thinking about her music and the legacy she will leave. With over 30 million records sold (in Japan alone), and a diverse catalogue that evolved and changed along with her, it’s going to be a sad future not to have her active in music. But she is doing what most other musicians and even well-known professionals do; she is leaving at the top of her game.
Hell, her _genic album is as relevant and at the standard as her older music. While her final album has a lot of pressure to live up to her reputation and to make sure she does exit the game at the peak of her ability, her track record shows that she will most likely make it so. While her later music ranges from solid to good to even great, I can’t help but be pulled back to the song that made me take notice officially. There is just Something ‘Bout the Kiss that ensnared me.
That “something” is the production. The Dallas Austin R&B production fit right into what I was listening to. SPEED was still in rotation (this came out before they announced their disbandment, so I wasn’t sad yet), alongside that late-90s/early 2000’s trifecta of Jay-Z, Ja Rule and DMX, plus TLC was huge.
So when I heard that beat for the first time, it felt right. SPEED certainly had its R&B influence, but it wasn’t quite like this. It wasn’t until later I learned that one of the main producers of TLC produced this song that everything fell into place. But even if I never learned that I caught the soul, regardless. So did Namie.
Namie is so smooth and sultry in this song. It’s not a display of vocal prowess or a shining example of great production, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s a song you can bob your head to and even do a two-step. By that standard, it nails it. In doing so, the song is timeless. It’s as effective as a song as it was in 1999. The video, however, is dated. But there is a fun quality to how turn-of-the-millennium it is.
Historically, this was when Namie found her footing in the R&B/hip-hop genre. Musically, she bounced around between genres, but it wasn’t until this single and the album it would be featured on (Genius 2000) that it sounded like she was truly comfortable in it. Would she have become the Queen of Hip-Pop without this? I doubt it. She would release bigger hits and more pivotal music than this, but this remains one of her best songs, period.
I’m thankful for this song, and I’m thankful for Namie’s music. The landscape of music changes, and J-pop operates on its unique timetable, so to move forward without Namie being involved is sad. But Namie will leave a legacy and a path that future soloists can follow. I’m happy that we got to be on that path with her.