Montell Jordan: His Journey from ‘This is How We Do It’ to the Pulpit

 From making hip-hop megahits in the 90s to the 2000s to becoming a megachurch pastor, Montell Jordan has taken an unexpected turn in his career path.

Montell emerged on the music scene with his 1995 debut single “This Is How We Do It,” and with it, he quickly rose to fame. The song, released under Def Jam Records, dominated the charts and became a defining track of the era. He continued to produce hits like “Let’s Ride” and “Get it on Tonite” in the late ’90s, but his debut single remains his most iconic.

After leaving Def Jam in 2003, Jordan marked the end of an era with his album Life After Def. However, his life took a significant turn in 2010 when he became a worship leader at Victory World Church in Norcross, Georgia. This transition from a hip-hop sensation proves that Montell Jordan is full of surprises beyond his famous lyrics.

Want to know how Montell Jordan does it? Here’s how the man who made “this is how we do it,” a global catchphrase, lived one life to another.

Early Life

Montell Du’Sean Barnett Jordan, better known as Montell Jordan, was born on December 3, 1968, in Los Angeles, California. He grew up in the South Central area of the city, raised in a close-knit family with his parents, Elijah and Deloris Jordan, and two sisters, Jennifer and Tracy.

Jordan’s early life was deeply rooted in his Baptist faith, with his parents actively involved as deacons in their local church. Many of his relatives were also actively serving in the church. This religious upbringing had a significant influence on him, as he frequently attended church and played the piano there. His first foray into music was through his involvement with the church.

His environment in South Central, Los Angeles, was challenging. It was an area known for its gang activity, particularly involving Crips and Bloods. However, it was his faith and his fear and respect for his father that made him steer clear of this lifestyle.

Jordan graduated from Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, California, in 1986. After high school, he pursued higher education at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, majoring in communications. During his university years, Jordan became a member of the Omega Epsilon Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity in 1989 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1991.

After university, Jordan ventured into the world of television, working for Williams Television Time, where he helped create TV infomercials. This job, however, was a stepping stone towards his true passion: music.

Seeking to kickstart his music career, Jordan invited his colleagues to a showcase where he performed, an event that reportedly was attended by notable musicians like Janet Jackson and Shanice Wilson. From there, he made his first mixtape and flew out to New York, where he connected with producer Russell Simmons of Def Jam Records. This meeting was a turning point in his career – he signed with Def Jam in 1995, making him the second R&B artist to join the label.

Before he got a recording contract, Jordan got married to Kristin Hudson in June 1994. Together, they have four children: Sydney, Skyler, Chris, and Tracy.

Rise to Fame

Despite being rooted in church music, Jordan’s records when he rose to fame reflected a very different world – one filled with drinking, partying, and women. Reflecting on his journey, Jordan explained in one interview that his church music was a gift to God and didn’t come with financial rewards. While he played music for the church from age 9 to 21, he only earned a modest amount, but when he tried singing in a nightclub, he earned $300 in just a few minutes, which was enough to cover his rent and help pay for college. This became a key factor for him that led him to connect with Russel Simmons and pursue a mainstream music career.

Montell Jordan’s musical career kicked off in 1995 with the release of his debut single, “This Is How We Do It” under the Def Jam label. The song reflected what street life was like from the point of view of a kid who grew up in the neighborhood. This track, sampling Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story,” immediately caught the public’s attention, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and dominating the charts for seven weeks. Its success helped his debut album – which had the same title – go platinum and sell over a million copies. Because of that hit, Jordan got his first Grammy Awards nomination for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.

Jordan followed up his success with another hit single, “Somethin’ 4 da Honeyz”, which peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and “Daddy’s Home,” which reached no. 74 on the R&B chart.

Music Career and Subsequent Album Releases

In 1996, he released his second studio album, More…, blending R&B with a hip-hop edge, just like his first album. It included hits like “I Like” featuring Slick Rick, “Falling,” and “What’s On Tonight.” Although it failed to match the success of its predecessor, More… still became a minor hit in its own right, peaking at the top 20 of the R&B charts.

That same year, Jordan experienced a memorable moment when he opened for Boyz II Men in Vancouver. During this performance, he had an accident – he fell off the seven-foot stage and hit his head. Miraculously, he sustained no injuries, an event he later described as a “modern-day miracle.”

He followed up with his next studio album in 1998, entitled Let’s Ride. Featuring the hit title track, it showed a more mature side of Jordan’s music. It included collaborations with artists like Master P and Silkk the Shocker.

Jordan finished the decade by releasing the single “Get it On Tonite” in 1999, topping the R&B charts and selling more than 500,000 copies. His album, “Get It On… Tonite,” leaned more towards mainstream R&B and was well-received for its catchy tunes and Jordan’s evolving style.

Facing constant pressure to replicate the success of “This Is How We Do It,” Jordan enthusiastically labeled his 2002 self-titled album, Montell Jordan, as “the 1st Montell Jordan album.” However, it fell short of making a significant commercial impact.

In 2003, Jordan parted ways with Def Soul, citing creative differences, particularly around his image as a sex symbol, which he was looking to change. That year, he released the album “Life After Def” under Koch Records, a more hands-off label. It was one of his most artistically accomplished albums.

Almost five years later, he signed a new deal with Fontana/Universal, unveiling a fresh release titled “Let It Rain.” It was his last album before he went on to become a minister.

Other Work

Jordan wasn’t just a performer; he was a talented songwriter and producer, contributing to the works of artists like Christina Milian, 98 Degrees, Deborah Cox, and Sisqó. His diverse skills also led him to dabble in acting, with roles in The Fighting Temptations and a cameo in The Nutty Professor. He even performed in the documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown and featured his song “Unstoppable” in the video game NBA Live 2001.

In 2000, he serenaded the Miss Universe 2000 candidates during the evening gown competition in Nicosia, Cyprus, as he performed the song “Careless Whisper” with musician Dave Koz.

Jordan continued to perform and make appearances in the following years. He performed his iconic song “This Is How We Do It” at various events, including sports halftime shows and on The Late Late Show with James Corden.

In 2018, Jordan made another stage appearance at the 8th Annual Streamy Awards in Beverly Hills, California, performing his iconic hit “This Is How We Do It.” These appearances were reminders of his enduring legacy in the music world.

In 2019, he released a new R&B album, Masterpeace – his first in over a decade. This 10-track collection includes collaborations with notable names like Christian rapper Lecrae, his wife Kristin Jordan, and Dove Award winner Crystal Nicole, among others. Leading with the single “When I’m Around You” featuring Lecrae, this album explores the realms of inspirational music and R&B. It delves into themes of love, relationships, cherished memories, and more, offering an uplifting and heartwarming listening experience.

By 2022, Jordan was still making waves, this time on the popular show The Masked Singer, where he competed as “Panther.” His elimination from the show was a surprise to many, especially since the panel often guessed him over other contestants.

Faith and Ministry Career

While becoming an R&B sensation, Jordan lived a double life. Only a few people knew that he was married to his manager, and the reason why it was kept a secret is because the record label suggested that he would be more marketable as a single man. When asked in interviews if he was in a relationship or married, he would always answer that he was married to his music – an answer he would later regret.

Jordan was a born-again Christian since he was a kid, and when his career was dwindling, his spirits weren’t crushed. He knew he would not always be at the top – newer artists would always enter the business and become bigger stars. He was actively involved with Victory World Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He was part of the church team called Victory World Music, where he found a new purpose in his musical talents.

In 2010, Jordan was planning a comeback album to re-enter the music industry. However, during a fast at his church, he felt a divine call to leave the music industry. Heeding this message, Jordan canceled his plans for the album and instead chose to fully dedicate his life to his faith.

Embracing his new path, Jordan created a music collective within the church called “Victory World Music.” In early 2011, they released a Christian album featuring the song “Shake Heaven” with Beckah Shae, marking Jordan’s transition from secular to spiritual music.

Despite his commitment to ministry, Jordan briefly returned to the stage. In 2015, he performed at the New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat game at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

In 2016, Jordan published an autobiography, Becoming Unfamous, detailing his journey from fame to faith. Following this, in 2017, he and his wife, Kristin, co-wrote a book about marriage, This Is How We Do It: Making Your Marriage a Masterpeace.

The release of his latest album, Masterpeace, coincided with his full-time commitment to ministry. Along with his wife, Kristin, he founded and now leads Master Peace Church, a virtual church based in Dacula, Georgia. This venture represents the culmination of his musical and spiritual journey. Jordan noted that his experiences in music helped him reach this point, and after repairing his marriage, he left the music industry to focus entirely on ministry. He found his true identity not in music but in his faith, guided by God’s direction.

Reflecting on the day he embraced his new role in the church, Jordan felt an overwhelming sense of freedom. For the first time, he felt unified as a husband, father, and devout believer, shedding his dual identity.

As stated on Victory’s website, Montell Jordan also serves as the Leap Worship Pastor. When you see him preaching, he doesn’t dress in traditional pastoral attire. He chooses a more relatable look, especially for those from the R&B world, using his experiences to glorify God in a way that’s authentic to him.