Down Low (Nobody Has to Know)
|"Down Low (Nobody Has to Know)"|
|Single by R. Kelly featuring The Isley Brothers|
|from the album R. Kelly|
|Released||December 11, 1995|
|Format||CD single, cassette single|
|Genre||R&B, slow jam|
|R. Kelly featuring The Isley Brothers singles chronology|
"Down Low (Nobody Has to Know)" is an R&B song about infidelity, released as a single by R. Kelly and featuring The Isley Brothers, on his self-titled album, in 1995. The song was a hit, peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and reaching number one on the R&B Singles Chart for seven weeks, making it Kelly's fifth single to do so on the latter.
The music video was directed by Hype Williams. The song was a tongue-in-cheek song that had the narrator fooling around with another man's woman and telling the woman to keep their relationship as a closely guarded secret, hence the chorus "Keep it on the down low / Nobody has to know." While Kelly sings along, the "other man", Ronald Isley, sings in his trademark falsetto exclaiming "How could you go so low?"
The music video to the song was as popular as the song. It was one of Kelly's first self-directed videos, and was the first large-scale video Kelly had done. Introducing Isley as the character Mr. Frank Biggs, a mob boss who employs Kelly, Mr. Biggs sends for Kelly, telling him he's going on a business trip and wants Kelly to take care of his wife, Lila Heart (played by Garcelle Beauvais), explaining "You know Lila means everything to me", even leaving him money to take her out. Biggs tells Kelly "take her out, take her shopping, give her anything she wants, but you are never to touch her." Kelly replies "hey man, you can trust me," in which Biggs responds, "don't fuck me, Kelly". Kelly plays out the lyrics to the song by having Mr. Biggs go out of town on business while Kelly and Lila go out on the town. At one point, Lila shows up at Kelly's home where they make love, despite the warning Mr. Biggs gave Kelly about not getting physically involved with her.
Later that night, Biggs and his bodyguards broke into the room where Kelly and Lila were seen in bed together. An altercation occurs between Kelly and Mr. Biggs' bodyguards who then confront Lila after injuring Kelly. Dropping him off in a desert location bloodied and beaten, Mr. Biggs angrily gloats, "I did this to you!" and after one hit from a sledgehammer, leaves Kelly stranded out in the middle of nowhere. Later taken to a hospital where he rests in a wheelchair, he discovers a badly beaten Lila in a nearby room and goes in to see her heavily sedated in intensive care. After Kelly tearfully tells her he loves her, Lila squeezes Kelly's hand then succumbs to her injuries, ending the video.
The success of the video shown on both MTV and BET helped send the song to number-four pop and number-one R&B, giving the Isley Brothers their first Top 40 pop record since 1980's "Don't Say Goodnight (It's Time For Love)", reviving the career of the group's front man Ronald Isley, who later used "Mr. Biggs" as his moniker, and was Kelly's third top 10 pop record.
Pop culture references
The Isley Brothers and R. Kelly released a follow-up to "Down Low" in 2001 entitled "Contagious". In both the song and music video, Mr. Biggs returns home to find his new girlfriend (played by Chante Moore) having an affair with Kelly.
- R. Kelly and Ronald Isley: lead vocals
- Ronald Isley and Ernie Isley: background vocals
- Ernie Isley: guitars
- Other instrumentation by R. Kelly
- Produced, written, arranged and composed by R. Kelly
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||4|
- "Billboard Top 100 - 1996". Retrieved 2010-08-27.