Hey Mr. D.J. (Zhané song)

"Hey Mr. D.J." is a song by American R&B group Zhané, recorded for their debut album, Pronounced Jah-Nay (1994). Co-written by group members Renée Neufville and Jean Norris, it was released as their debut single in August 1993 and also features a rap from Rottin Razkals member Fam. The song was produced by Naughty by Nature and samples "Looking Up to You" by Michael Wycoff. It received critical acclaim, peaking at number six on the US Billboard Hot 100[2] and was certified gold by the RIAA for selling 500,000 copies domestically.[3][4] In Australia, it peaked at number nine, while reaching number 20 in New Zealand. In Europe, the song was a top 30 hit in Austria, Germany and the UK. Originally, it was recorded and released on the 1993 compilation album Roll Wit tha Flava.[5] The accompanying music video, directed by Peter Allen, features the duo performing at a party.

"Hey Mr. D.J."
Single by Zhané
from the album Pronounced Jah-Nay
ReleasedAugust 12, 1993
  • A. Bahr
  • V. Brown
  • A. Criss
  • K. Gist
  • R. Neufville
  • J. Norris
Zhané singles chronology
"Hey Mr. D.J."
"Groove Thang"
Music video
"Hey Mr. D.J." on YouTube

Chart performance edit

"I wrote that song in my bedroom while sitting on the floor. I remember presenting it to Kay Gee. I told him I had this song called "Hey Mr. D.J." I told him it reminded me of when I had block parties on my block back in Brooklyn. When I sang it to him, he laughed at me. [laughs] He thought it was a joke. But we recorded it, and everyone seemed to love it. So imagine that "Hey Mr. D.J." was a hit, there’s this group that no one has ever seen before, there’s no video for the song, the album isn’t done, and we hadn’t sign to a record label for a full length album yet. There was a bidding war for us."

—Renee Neufville talking to WaxPoetics about how the song was made.[6]

"Hey Mr. D.J." was a moderate success on the charts on several continents, peaking at number two on both the RPM Dance/Urban chart in Canada and the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart in the United States. In Europe, it made it to the top 30 in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, where it peaked at numbers 27, 29, and 26, respectively. On the German Singles Chart, the song spent a total of 13 weeks. In the UK, it reached its peak in its first week at the UK Singles Chart, on September 5, 1993.[7]

On the Eurochart Hot 100, "Hey Mr. D.J." peaked at number 62 in December 1993, but on the European Dance Radio Chart, it reached number 11. Outside Europe, it also hit number six on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, number nine in Australia and number 20 in New Zealand. The single earned a gold record in the US, after a sale of 500,000 units.

Critical reception edit

Upon the release, J.D. Considine from The Baltimore Sun remarked that the DJ referred to in the song "isn't a radio man but a club jockey", stating that it "perfectly captures the loping bass and infectious groove that characterizes the best club hits."[8] Larry Flick from Billboard felt the female act "earns points for not succumbing to the temptation of being just another bunch of new fill swingers. Instead, they choose to conjure memories of the Emotions by laying pretty vocal into the context of shimmying R&B bassline and subtle disco strings. The song itself is a bit thin, but engaging nonetheless—thanks mostly to a charismatic new act with the potential to lure more than a few DJs to the fold."[9] James Bernard from Entertainment Weekly remarked that "Hey Mr. D.J." "caught fire with its prancing bass line and anthemic chorus."[10] Rod Edwards from the Gavin Report found that their sound "falls between hip hop and R&B".[11] Pan-European magazine Music & Media wrote that it's a "jazzy soul laden jam, flexing rhythm and blues muscle. Its warmth harks back to the '70s."[12]

Andy Beevers from Music Week gave it four out of five, complimenting it as an "excellent catchy soul track". He also remarked that it's "already selling like hotcakes on import".[13] John Kilgo from The Network Forty felt that "sultry and smooth, Zhane' brings a fresh tasting low groove that's nicely reminiscent of a relaxing, flavorful '70s summer tune." He added that "their voices blend together like a shake from an ice cream parlor", and "proudly sing their tribute [to] record-spinners the world over. They do so without missing a beat on this exciting debut."[14] A reviewer from People Magazine stated that "with a funky, old-school groove and light-as-air harmonizing", the song "jumps to the joys of getting down and having fun."[15] Jonathan Bernstein from Spin commented, "I remember this," I said, awash in a rosy glow of nostalgia triggered by Zhané's undulating "Hey Mr. D.J." "1982, a year rich in classic soul singles." Then the rap kicked in, signifying that this was no chestnut, rather an irresistible instant standard."[16]

Music video edit

A music video was produced to promote "Hey Mr. D.J.". It was directed by Peter Allen,[17] and features Zhané performing the song at a club party with a D.J. playing the music for a dancing crowd. In between, the group is also seen performing the song in a park.

Impact and legacy edit

Retrospectively, AllMusic editor Jose F. Promis complimented the song as a "sleek slice of earthy, sophisticated soul that stands as one of the best R&B hits of the '90s."[18] "Hey Mr. D.J." was voted number nine on website Slant Magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Dance Songs" in 2006.[19] Five years later, in 2011, it was voted number 86 in their list of "The 100 Best Singles of the 1990s". They wrote, "Straight-up, no-bullshit dance music. The duo pronounced "Jah-Nay" let the slack groove thang take you away to a place where the DJ will keep playing that song all night."[20] Complex featured it in their list of "The Best 90s R&B Songs" in 2012. An editor, Brendan Frederick, called it "a simple ode to dancing the night away to your favorite song", and a "summertime party anthem".[21]

American entertainment company BuzzFeed ranked it number 45 in their list of "The 101 Greatest Dance Songs Of the '90s" in 2017. They added, "Great harmonies, chill vibe, rap bridge; all the things you needed to make a perfect early-‘90s R&B dance song."[22] In an 2019 retrospective review, Daryl McIntosh from Albumism wrote that Kay Gee’s beat on the track "provided a sound reminiscent of late ‘70s disco band Chic, that, together with the perfectly complementary vocals, created a euphoria of modern funk."[23] Slant Magazine ranked it number 22 in their list of "The 100 Best Dance Songs of All Time" in 2020. An editor said, "Still, no one nailed the formula quite like Zhané did with this velvet midnight blue floor-filler."[24]

The chorus is replicated in Childish Gambino's "Algorythym" from 2020.

Accolades edit

Year Publisher Country Accolade Rank
1995 BMI United States "BMI Pop Awards"[25] *
2005 Süddeutsche Zeitung Germany "1020 Songs 1955-2005"[26] *
2006 Slant Magazine United States "100 Greatest Dance Songs" 9
2011 Slant Magazine United States "The 100 Best Singles of the 1990s" 86
2012 Complex United States "The Best 90s R&B Songs"[27] 44
2017 BuzzFeed United States "The 101 Greatest Dance Songs Of the '90s"[28] 45
2019 Billboard United States "Billboard's Top Songs of the '90s"[29] 489
2020 Slant Magazine United States "The 100 Best Dance Songs of All Time" 22

(*) indicates the list is unordered.

Track listings edit

Charts edit

Certifications edit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[54] Gold 35,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Release history edit

Region Date Format(s) Label(s) Ref.
United States August 12, 1993
  • 12-inch vinyl
  • cassette
[citation needed]
United Kingdom August 30, 1993
  • 12-inch vinyl
  • CD
  • cassette

References edit

  1. ^ Bush, John. "Zhané > Biography & History > AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved March 28, 2021. one of the R&B party anthems of the '90s, "Hey, Mr. DJ."
  2. ^ a b "Billboard Hot 100". Billboard. October 30, 1993. Retrieved September 17, 2023.
  3. ^ "American certifications – Zhane – Hey Mr. D.J." Recording Industry Association of America.
  4. ^ "Best-Selling Records of 1993". Billboard. Vol. 106, no. 3. BPI Communications. January 15, 1994. p. 73. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  5. ^ Bush, John. "AllMusic ((( Zhané > Overview )))". AllMusic. Retrieved August 22, 2010.
  6. ^ "Nineties R&B group Zhané celebrates twentieth anniversary of debut album, Pronounced Jah-nay". WaxPoetics. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  7. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 75 05 September 1993 - 11 September 1993". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  8. ^ Considine, J.D. (June 10, 1994). "Books & Music: Album Reviews". The Baltimore Sun. p. G3. Retrieved January 7, 2023 – via Bangor Daily News.
  9. ^ Flick, Larry (July 10, 1993). "Single Reviews" (PDF). Billboard. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  10. ^ Bernard, James (February 11, 1994). "Pronounced Jah-Nay". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  11. ^ Edwards, Rod (July 16, 1993). "Urban: New Releases" (PDF). Gavin Report. p. 22. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  12. ^ "New Grooves" (PDF). Music & Media. August 28, 1993. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  13. ^ Beevers, Andy (August 28, 1993). "Market Preview: Dance" (PDF). Music Week. p. 19. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  14. ^ Kilgo, John (September 17, 1992). "Mainstream: Music Meeting" (PDF). The Network Forty. p. 20. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  15. ^ "Picks and Pans Review: Pronounced Jah-Nay". People. March 21, 1994. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  16. ^ Bernstein, Jonathan (May 1994). "Heavy Rotation". Spin. p. 24. Retrieved January 27, 2023.
  17. ^ "Zhané: Hey Mr. D.J. (1993)". IMDb. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  18. ^ Promis, Jose F. "AllMusic ((( Pronounced Jah-Nay > Review )))". AllMusic. Retrieved May 16, 2010.
  19. ^ "100 Greatest Dance Songs – Music – Slant Magazine". Slant Magazine. Retrieved May 19, 2010.
  20. ^ "The 100 Best Singles of the 1990s". Slant Magazine. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  21. ^ Frederick, Brendan (October 8, 2019). "The Best 90s R&B Songs". Complex. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
  22. ^ "The 101 Greatest Dance Songs Of the '90s". BuzzFeed. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  23. ^ McIntosh, Daryl (January 13, 2019). "Zhané's Debut Album 'Pronounced Jah-Nay' Turns 25: Anniversary Retrospective". Albumism. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  24. ^ "The 100 Best Dance Songs of All Time". Slant Magazine. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  25. ^ "BMI Pop Awards" (PDF). Billboard. May 27, 1995. p. 16. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  26. ^ "Zhané - Hey Mr. DJ". Acclaimedmusic.netaccessdate=July 27, 2020.
  27. ^ "The Best 90s R&B Songs". Complex. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  28. ^ Stopera, Matt; Galindo, Brian (March 11, 2017). "The 101 Greatest Dance Songs of the '90s". BuzzFeed. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  29. ^ "Greatest of All Time: Billboard's Top Songs of the '90s". Billboard. 2019. Retrieved April 21, 2022.
  30. ^ "Zhané – Hey Mr. D.J.". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  31. ^ "Zhané – Hey Mr. D.J." (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  32. ^ "Top RPM Dance/Urban: Issue 2293." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved May 7, 2021.
  33. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 10, no. 51/52. December 18, 1993. p. 31. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  34. ^ "European Dance Radio" (PDF). Music & Media. October 9, 1993. p. 20. Retrieved November 6, 2021.
  35. ^ "Zhané – Hey Mr. D.J." (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  36. ^ "Zhané – Hey Mr. D.J." (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved March 6, 2020.
  37. ^ "Zhané – Hey Mr. D.J." (in Dutch). top40.nl. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  38. ^ "Zhané – Hey Mr. D.J." (in Dutch). dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  39. ^ "Zhané – Hey Mr. D.J.". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  40. ^ "Zhané – Hey Mr. D.J.". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  41. ^ "Zhane: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 7, 2021.
  42. ^ "Dance Singles" (PDF). Music Week. September 18, 1993. p. 26. Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  43. ^ "The RM Club Chart" (PDF). Music Week, in Record Mirror (Dance Update Supplemental Insert). August 28, 1993. p. 4. Retrieved May 10, 2023.
  44. ^ "Dance Club Songs". Billboard. October 9, 1993. Retrieved September 17, 2023.
  45. ^ "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Billboard. October 16, 1993. Retrieved September 17, 2023.
  46. ^ "Dance Singles Sales". Billboard. September 4, 1993. Retrieved September 17, 2023.
  47. ^ "Pop Airplay". Billboard. December 11, 1993. Retrieved September 17, 2023.
  48. ^ "Rhythmic Airplay". Billboard. November 6, 1993. Retrieved September 17, 2023.
  49. ^ "Canada Top 50 Dance Tracks of 1993". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  50. ^ "The RM Club Chart 93" (PDF). Music Week, in Record Mirror (Dance Update Supplemental insert). December 25, 1993. p. 4. Retrieved February 3, 2023.
  51. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1993". Archived from the original on November 10, 2006. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  52. ^ "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs – Year-End 1993". Billboard. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  53. ^ "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles 1994". Australian Record Industry Association Ltd. Archived from the original on October 25, 2015. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  54. ^ a b Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 309.
  55. ^ "The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1994". Cash Box. Archived from the original on October 10, 2012.
  56. ^ "Single Releases". Music Week. August 28, 1993. p. 27.