’90s Flashback: Dionne Farris’ Irresistible “I Know”

Mike Wass | June 4, 2020 3:22 pm
'90s Flashback: 'Freak Like Me'
Adina Howard walked so today's sex-positive R&B queens could run.

In this franchise, we look back on our favorite bops — both hits and underrated gems — from the 1990s.

After featuring on Arrested Development’s Grammy-winning “Tennessee,” Dionne Farris inked a deal with Columbia Records and got to work on her debut album. Wild Seed — Wild Flower arrived in 1994 to immense critical acclaim, but the album is largely remembered for one song. And that’s the inescapable radio hit “I Know.” Released in early 1995, the sing-along bop was a multi-format monster. Radio support propelled “I Know” all the way to number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and Dionne was ultimately rewarded with a Grammy nomination.

The appeal of “I Know” lies both in its simplicity and the way it effortlessly blends elements of bluegrass, R&B and pop. “I know why you dialed my number, I know why you say you’re mine,” the singer/songwriter belts on the irresistible chorus. “I know what you’re doing and it’s not gonna work this time, not gonna work this time.” Given its upbeat tone, you have to be paying close attention to realize that it’s actually a rather emphatic breakup anthem. Only instead of casting aspersions, Dionne is concerned with self-care.

Given the success of “I Know,” it’s surprising to learn that she never landed another top 40 hit. Dionne’s sophomore LP, For Truth If Not Love, was shelved by the label and only saw the light of day via iTunes in 2007. Happily, the New Jersey native has been releasing material as an independent artist since 2011 and has contributed songs to a multitude of soundtracks. Revisit one of the catchiest tunes of the ’90s below. (Don’t be put off by the — in retrospect, kind of — weird video, which finds her singing in front of urinals).

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