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|
|Certification||Platinum (RIAA) |
|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 and R. Kelly. 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 "husband", 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 break into the room. Kelly and Mr. Biggs's bodyguards fight; after injuring Kelly, the bodyguards turn on Lila. Dropping Kelly off in a desert location, bloodied and beaten, Mr. Biggs angrily gloats, "I did this to you!" and then, hitting him with a sledgehammer, leaves Kelly stranded out in the middle of nowhere. Later taken to a hospital where he rests in a wheelchair, Kelly 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 5 pop record.
The song is considered one of the most impactful songs in the 90's, the video has received positive reviews and has inspired different musicians. R&B singer The Weeknd call this the reason he's in this business of making music. Chris Brown and Trey Songz both sampled this song on "Songs on 12 Play" from Brown's sixth album X.
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: Co-lead vocals, instruments, producer, writer, arranger, composer
- Ronald Isley: Co-lead and backing vocals
- Ernie Isley: Guitars, backing vocals
|UK Singles Chart||23|
|New Zealand Singles Chart||20|
|US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks||1|
|US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales||1|
|US Billboard Rhythmic Top 40||6|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||4|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,100,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
- "Billboard Top 100 - 1996". Retrieved 2010-08-27.
- "American single certifications – Kelly, R. (feat. R. Isley) – Down Low (Nobody Has to Know)". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
- "Best-Selling Records of 1996". Billboard (BPI Communications Inc.) 109 (3): 61. January 18, 1997. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved May 7, 2015.