1975: Mark Ronson is born
DJ turned hit artist/producer Mark Ronson was born on Sept. 4, 1975. After spending years DJing on the New York club scene, Ronson went on to craft hits for Lily Allen, Adele, Lana Del Rey and most notably, Amy Winehouse on her pivotal album, Back to Black. He became a household name with his 2015 hit, “Uptown Funk” featuring Bruno Mars, which spent 14 weeks at No 1 in the U.S., and sold 10 million copies.
“Bruno was on drums, Jeff [Baskher] was on keys, I was on bass, and we just kept playing it until we locked into a groove,” Ronson explained. It really wasn’t that different from how you would make a record in the ’60s or ’70s.”
1981: Beyoncé arrives on Earth
The first born child of music executive Matthew Knowles and fashion designer/philanthropist Tina Lawson, Beyoncé, made her earthly debut on this day in 1981. Born in Houston, Bey first emerged as the lead singer for one of the bestselling girl groups ever, Destiny’s Child. Since her debut solo album, 2003’s Dangerously in Love, which hit No.1 on the Billboard 200, earned five Grammys and spawned two No. 1 singles, “Crazy in Love” and “Baby Boy,” King Bey gone on to become the biggest pop star in the world. She’s influenced music and culture perhaps more than any solo star in the past 20 years, garnering comparisons to icon Michael Jackson along the way, a debate that gained intensity after her record-breaking performance at Coachella in 2018.
With six solo records under her belt, including her landmark visual album, 2016’s Lemonade, which explored the resiliency, pain, joy and love of black women (and was the best-selling album that year), Beyoncé’s musical dominance remains indomitable. She’s sold over 100 million records worldwide, won 22 Grammys and is the most nominated woman in the award’s history.
In her 2018 interview with Vogue, she explained why it’s important for her to boost artists who come after her, and why it’s particularly important for her to present diverse imagery.
“It’s important to me that I help open doors for younger artists,” she wrote. “There are so many cultural and societal barriers to entry that I like to do what I can to level the playing field, to present a different point of view for people who may feel like their voices don’t matter.”
2001: Usher drops ‘U Got It Bad”
The second single from Usher’s 2001 album, 8701, “U Got It Bad” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. But more significantly, the video for the song featured TLC’s Rozanda “Chilli” Thomas, giving fans a glimpse of the real-life couple, as she played Usher’s love interest in the clip. Written by Usher and frequent collaborators, Jermaine Dupri and Bryan-Michael Cox, the song was inspired by an actual experience Usher had in the studio, when Dupri kicked him out of the session because he was too distracted by a woman on the phone. Dupri told him, “You got it bad.” Dupri spoke to Complex about the making of the hit ballad in 2013.
“I learned from ‘Nice & Slow’ that people wanted that,” he shared. “‘Nice & Slow’ was a big record, but we only made one. We went into that album saying, we got to make another ‘Nice & Slow.’ What I did with ‘U Got It Bad’ was take it to the next level, make another version of that. ‘U Got It Bad’ was basically just another version of ‘Nice & Slow’ with me trying to repeat and just make a better version.”