Throwback Thursday: “Whatcha Say” by Jason Derulo

Before there was Drake’s “Hotling Bling,” there was another Nice Guy pop/R&B song by Jason Derulo called “Whatcha Say.” Derulo is also singing about a relationship that may be on the outs. In this scenario the problem is the guy’s cheating, but just like Drake would later do, Derulo puts the onus on the woman. “I was caught up in her lust.” Well, sure, but it does take two to tango.

The title, and indeed the bulk of the song, comes from a repeated sample of Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek.” It puts a unique spin on what would otherwise be something – not generic, exactly, but certainly familiar-sounding. It’s also an interesting choice because Heap’s song isn’t necessarily about cheating. You can’t really tell what the relationship issue is that she’s singing about. Yes, she asks, “Mmm, what did she say?”, but Heap doesn’t elaborate as to what that might be. She seems to be talking to someone and asking them about what happened. Is the “she” of Heap’s song the “other woman” we find so often in these stories? In Derulo’s hands, the answer is yes. He seems to be answering the question of “what did she say” – sort of. He just says that he was trapped in the situation and had no other choice but to cheat.

I find the start of “Whatcha Say” really cheesy. Derulo is introducing himself: “J-J-J-J-J.R.” Later, in the opening chorus, mixed in with the “Hide and Seek” sample, we hear “Jason Derulo.” To my ears, it comes off as a softer version of many rap songs, where the rapper shares their name – stage or otherwise – in a cocky, even aggressive manner. Does Derulo have to assert himself before telling his side of the story? I guess it’s up to us to decide.

Returning to that aspect of the song, according to Genius, it’s supposed to be an apology. Yet lyrics like “I don’t want you to leave me, though you caught me cheating,” sound more than a little desperate. I mean, that’s just me with a female perspective, but I’m curious about what other readers think. Give it a listen and let me know.

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