Retrospective: Donell Jones' Where I Wanna Be

By @TrueGodImmortal 

1. U Know What's Up 
2. Shorty(Got Her Eyes On Me)
3. Where I Wanna Be 
4. Have You Seen Her 
5. This Luv
6. All Her Love 
7. It's Alright 
8. Think About It (Don't Call My Crib)
9. He Won't Hurt You
10. Pushin
11. I Wanna Luv U
12. When I Was Down 
13. U Know What's Up Remix featuring Left Eye 

As the year 1999 was winding down, Donell Jones was preparing to release the biggest album of his career. In many ways, this album was his crowning achievement and rightfully so. With the Anthony Hamilton co-written "U Know What's Up", he managed to put out an infectious track that definitely climbed up the charts and took over radio. The song was quite smooth yet inspired a bit of a two step, along with the remix featuring Left Eye, it helped to catapult him to success. The original version of the song would kick off the album and start things off correctly.

The next song is essentially your typical 90s R&B "hey girl, I see you got your eyes on me too" track with "Shorty (Got Her Eyes On Me", and while the song isn't one of my favorites on this album, it's still a solid joint regardless. What takes the song a bit higher in my opinion is Donell and his ability to coast over a breezy production and the hook is truly infectious. The video for this song is absolutely hilarious as well, as I personally miss the music videos of the 90s that had so much character and campy humor (usually unintentional) to them. However, after this track finishes up, we arrive at the iconic title track and this is where Donell has his absolute best moment period. The guitar riff that carried this track is soothing and nearly heartbreaking in the same sentence as Donell speaks some true honesty to his woman and explains to her that he just needs time away. It is quite possibly one of the realest songs to come from 90s R&B and maybe the genre in general. The lyrics from the first verse tell the story:

"She doesn't fully understand me so I rather leave...than to cheat/
If she gives me some time... I can be the man she needs../ 
But there's a lot of lust inside of me, and we've been together since our teenage years.../ 
I really don't mean to hurt her, but I need... some time... to be alone../"

That first verse is absolutely beautiful with the honesty and struggle that many men face when finding the woman you think you wanted to spend the rest of your life with perhaps, but there's so much more going on that she just doesn't know. The bridge/hook also tells yet another story:

"But when you love someone... you just don't treat them bad/
Oh how I feel so sad/
Now that I want to leave... 
She's crying her heart to me/
How could you let this be/
And I just need time to see... /
Where I Wanna be.... where I wanna be/"

The internal struggle Donell faces on this song in particular is amazing and one that personifies a lot of mindsets in long term relationships, especially ones that started in high school or fresh out of high school (speaking from experience). This song remains one of my all time favorite R&B songs of the last few decades and it is just the beginning of this album!! The album continues with the slow yet smooth "Have You Seen Her" then continues with another one of my favorites on this album "This Luv". I enjoy "This Luv" so much because it's truly what 90s R&B was all about to me: telling a form of a story while still providing infectious grooves and hooks. It makes the music so much more compelling, and I believe this is an element that is currently missing in music.

The music continues on a smooth path with the ballad "All Her Love", and I'm quite certain that this song in particular dropped a few panties during the heyday of Donell Jones. Following that panty dropping anthem, the bumping "Its Alright" is a solid track here and a fun listen. Another favorite song of mine is "Think About It (Don't Call My Crib)", where Donell smooths out the track before leading into an interlude at the end of the song that essentially tells his mistress not to call his house because his girl is there. The content is honestly humorous to me, but the song itself is produced and put together so well, it's hard to deny.
In many ways, this next track "He Won't Hurt You" sees Donell in full dirty mack mode, as he sings to a lady telling her that the man she is with will never hurt her again if she comes to him (and gets rid of the other guy of course). R&B has many songs like this with similar content, but the execution of these songs make them stand out, and this one yet again benefits from that. The vibe changes just a bit with "Pushin", which is a bit more upbeat and has a nice bounce to it. The melody and drums give it that feel and it is definitely a fun song to listen to.

As the album begins to wind down near the end, we get the ballad "I Wanna Luv U"(love the usage of Luv and U in the R&B genre through the 90s, it was somehow fun then and even funnier now to look back on), which is definitely a nice song and one that keeps the true essence of the album in tact. Donell had a few upbeat tracks and some hits that could get played on the radio and the club then, but his essence was truly R&B. Dirty macking songs, bedroom ballads, and ballads to truly touch the heart and soul depending on what you've experienced or are currently going through. What's missing today is the genuine feel of R&B and while plenty of artists had that in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s, Donell put together one of the best albums to represent it during that era. There was balance in the music then for R&B and when I look back at some of my favorite R&B albums, this one definitely sticks out.

Revisit this album, as well as some more of Donell Jones catalog and enjoy. Trust me, you'll be glad you did. Have any thoughts about this album? Post them in the comments below. DAR R&B week is up and running.



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