I Wanna Be Down is Brandy Norwood's debut single from her self-titled debut album.
The single was released on September 6, 1994. The song was written by Keith Crouch (who produced the song) & Kipper Jones.
The song is a mid–tempo track that features a thunderous beat and light synth riffs.
Lyrically, the song describes a flirt with a boy who Norwood tries to convince of her loveliness.
The song's original music video was filmed by Keith Ward and released in October of 1994.
It features Norwood in her tomboyish image, dancing in front of a jeep near a forest, surrounded by backup dancers.
"I Wanna Be Down" was performed on several television and award show ceremonies, such as "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and the 1996 Soul Train Music Awards.
It has been performed on almost every one of Norwood's concerts and tours & is featured (along with its hip-hop remix) on the compilation album "The Best of Brandy."
The song was released to positive reaction by contemporary music critics. Its impact on the charts was comparatively large for a debut single.
While it spent four weeks on top of the US Billboard Hot R&B Singles chart, it reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100 & the top 20 in Australia and New Zealand.
In 1995, a hip hop remix of "I Wanna Be Down" with new lyrics from female rappers MC Lyte, Queen Latifah and Yo-Yo was released.
The song was chosed by Brandy's record label, Atlantic Records to be the lead single from the album.
At first, Norwood is not liking the idea of releasing the song as the first single.
According to her in a retrospective interview with Complex magazine in 2012:
"I Wanna Be Down’ was interesting. "I didn’t really get it at first, but I was young and I didn’t really know what worked at radio or what it was. I liked the song, but I just didn’t get it being the first thing that people heard from me."
Upon its chart success, she changed her mind on their decision however. Norwood said, "[...] Once it was released and I saw why everyone responded to the title phrase, I understood why!"
Hip-Hop Remix VersionEdit
Upon the song's release, Atlantic Records head Sylvia Rhone came up with the idea of re-recording the song with a group of rappers.
The song was eventually remixed with new lyrics from female rappers MC Lyte, Queen Latifah and Yo-Yo.
According to Norwood in 2012:
"The hip-hop remix meant the world to me. I’m fresh out of the box and these superstars are a part of my first single! They are my mentors and I looked up to them. I was a huge Queen Latifah fan. I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God…I can’t believe this is happening to me.’ I got the chance to vibe with all three of them. They embraced me as a little sister. I was one of the first R&B artists to welcome hip-hop onto an R&B beat. It had never been done before quite like that[...] I knew it was a special record."
The remix saw its US commercial release as the B-side to Norwood's follow-up single "Baby."
The original video for "I Wanna Be Down" was directed by Keith Ward and premiered prior to the single's official release in September 1994.
It portrays Norwood in her tomboyish image, dancing in front of a jeep near a forest, surrounded by backup dancers.
Norwood explained filming of her first music video a great experience. According to her:
"I was so excited about the video. I got a chance to work with some great people like Frank Gatson. All my friends were in the video. My brother was in the video [...] He was there and we had this little dance, and that became really popular. That was a fun time. I was so excited because my dream was coming through right before my eyes... at the age of 15."
A music video for the Human Rhythm Hip Hop Remix premiered in February 1995.
The video was filmed by director Hype Williams (whose remix video for Craig Mack's 1994 song "Flava in Ya Ear") served as inspiration for the video.
A simple performance video, it features appearances by MC Lyte, Queen Latifah and Yo-Yo and was photographed "in glamorous black and white and vivacious color, complete with flashbulbs popping to the beat."
Norwood's younger brother Ray J made a cameo appearance in the video.
This version eventually earned her first nomination for a MTV Video Music Award for "Best Rap Video" at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards.