Happy Birthday to DeVante Swing! The superproducer and Jodeci co-founder is 48 years old today (September 29).
DeVante was the architect of Jodeci's famous sound, and was one of the producers who led R&B away from the new jack swing sounds that dominated the early 1990s and into the more smoothed-out hip-hop soul era that would come to define the rest of the decade.
Outside of Jodeci, DeVante was in-demand as a songwriter and a producer. Even before Jodeci debuted with Forever My Lady, DeVante was working the boards with Al B. Sure! on Sure's sophomore album. He worked with Mary J. Blige, 2Pac, Father MC, H-Town and, of course, was a mentor to Timbaland and Missy.
In recognition of DeVante Swing's musical legacy, here are our 10 favorite DeVante productions outside of Jodeci.
One of Devante's biggest non-Jodeci hits was this classic from the Above the Rim soundtrack. All of the sounds that Swing had perfected on Diary of A Mad Band were prevalent on this smash for the Texas trio H-Town.
Before Jodeci's first album dropped, DeVante cut his teeth on Al B. Sure's second album Private Times...and the Whole 9! One of the best tracks was this steamy bedroom number.
On 2Pac's 1996 double album All Eyez On Me, DeVante (with a drum assist from a then-unknown Timbo) laced Pac with one of the most menacing backdrops of his career. The result was a dark masterpiece.
"Gin & Juice"DeVante Swing
DeVante got to showcase his solo skills on the Dangerous Minds soundtrack and this was first single without his crew in Jodeci. It's one of the most underrated tracks he made--with an early Static Major appearance.
"I Don't Wanna Do Anything Else" Mary J. Blige feat. K. Ci Hailey
Mary J. Blige and K-Ci's relationship was toxic and the pain and frustration of their onetime bond was all over this gut-wrenching duet, which features DeVante's richest production to date.
Usher's first album famously underperformed, but that's not because the tracks were substandard. One of the best was this moderate hit from DeVante. The steamy subject matter may have turned off some fans (Usher was only 15 at the time).
"Could This Be the Love" Al Green
DeVante produced this underrated track from Green's mid-1990s period. DeVante got to showcase his knack for classic sounds and he got his Jodeci bandmates to even sing backup.
"What's On Tonight" Montell Jordan
Despite the revisionism that says Montell Jordan was a one-hit wonder, the R&B singer did have songs that were bangers besides "This Is How We Do It" and this under-appreciated track was one of his best singles.
"Keep It Right There" Changing Faces
Changing Faces had some of the most bodyroll-worthy singles of the mid-90s and this hit was a standout. DeVante's slinky beat is perfect for the duo, and proved they could deliver the goods even when not working with R. Kelly.
"The Beautiful Ones" Mariah Carey w/Sisqo of Dru Hill
DeVante idolized Prince and the superproducer got to channel his hero on this cover for Mariah and Sisqo. He brought Prince's most distinctive 80s quirks into the late 1990s with a perfect homage.