Last night the annual BET Awards took place in Los Angeles. Unlike previous years in recent memory, the show pulled out all the stops and racked in some mega-star names including Kanye West & Jay-Z, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Usher and most amazingly, D’Angelo who performed ‘Untitled (How Does It Feel)’ for the first time in America in over 10 years (he also performed ‘Sugar Daddy’, a new song her debuted during his European tour).
The night was also dedicated to those the industry had lost this past year – including Donna Summer (who was honoured by Chante Moore) and of course, Whitney Houston – who’s tribute was lead by Mariah Carey and performed by mother Cissy Houston, her brother Gary, Brandy & Monica and Chaka Khan.
I can’t lie, her recent collaboration with Chris Brown had me worried. Not to say ‘Put It Down’ is all bad, it isn’t – it just isn’t strong enough for Brandy and where she is right now. Combine this with a lack of promotion, the failure to release a video quick enough and the ever growing competitive market Brandy is facing – and well, sh*t could get real.
That said, Miss Norwood has now revealed that August 28th will be the day her much anticipated TwoEleven album will be released. Contrary to her earlier announcement of a June release. However, to ease the concerns of those like minded to me – lets not forget that she also confirmed that she is working with Frank Ocean, Timbaland and Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins on the new LP.
Frank Ocean has the capability of writing perfectly suited music for Brandy. He understands contemporary R&B better than most artists around at the moment (see: Beyonce’s ‘Miss You’ or his recent ‘Pyramids’) – I just hope Brandy (moreover, her label/team) choose the best song(s) he can offer. Timbaland has produced a number of brilliant tracks on her previous albums – they have an exciting chemistry. However, it’s Darkchild’s involvement that could potentially be most promising – providing they both go back to what works best for them and ignore current trends. Critically Brandy needs to avoid watered down, produced-just-for-radio songs (see: Brandy & Monica – ‘It All Belongs To Me‘)
As much of a commercial success this album needs to be, at this stage in her career – Brandy also crucially needs the critics on her side. For the first time in a long time Brandy is in a position to re-ignite her career and excite both old and new fans – but it rides on her ability to see and harness the current trends in R&B. For better or worse Usher’s ‘Climax’ did that for him (we’ll ignore the fact (or maybe we shouldn’t?) that he cocked it up with the Euro-Pop trash that followed) - with the right direction and the right songs, Brandy could do the same.
For me, Brandy will always be one of the defining artists of R&B. Her impact, her style and her innovation during the 90′s shaped and influenced a whole lot of people (and still is). Even during her golden era her voice stood apart from her contemporaries/everyone else. And while Aaliyah and Monica (and a good few others) carved their own path – Brandy’s distinctive voice always separated her – not only by tone, but also by skill.
… Not to mention, she led the way in the TV world too – which other young, black female singer/actress had their own show during this period?
However, as with most artists who reigned during the 1990′s, Norwood ran into some career problems towards the end of the decade as well as having to battle some personal issues too. From disappointing album sales, a sham marriage, to devastating car accident and most recently, the death of her idol and friend Whitney Houston. But now, as she attempts to regain her position as a leading veteran in the music world, she sits down with VH1 for her own episode of ‘Behind the Music’ and together with a whole host of family and friends airs all, at times – with brutal honesty.
Have a look at the official video for Brandy & Monica’s new single, their first collaboration since 1998′s ‘The Boy Is Mine’. Despite both ladies looking absolutely beautiful here, the video does very little to redeem the song. I still don’t feel ‘It All Belongs To Me’ represents the best of these two and while they both sound great (especially on their respective verses) the cheap songwriting lets it all down.
We weren’t waiting for the ‘The Boy Is Mine’ part 2, but we were hoping for something befitting of (arguably) two of the most iconic singers in R&B. That said, if they were able to get the formula right, wouldn’t a ‘Throne’ like collaborative album from these two be amazing? Hmm…
This is unexpectedly bad. Those opening chords and that guitar almost brought my dinner up. In no way is this shallow, lazy attempt at appeasing the mainstream indicative of the talent both these ladies possess. I mean, are they really singing about ‘logging out of facebook’ & ‘macbooks’? ‘It All Belongs To Me’ was written and produced by Rico Love – which from the off set, says it all – but even in-spite of that, surely both Brandy & Monica need be held accountable too.
‘The Boy Is Mine’ is a Grammy Award winning single, arguably one of the greatest R&B records of all time – comparing it any record would be unfair, however unavoidable. But I’m genuinely perplexed as to how any one involved in the creation of this record could listen to that… Then this… And find it acceptable. Times have changed, things do move on – yes – but quality is quality whatever decade you’re in – and quality is exactly what this song is lacking.
… Anyone who frequents this platform will know that I am a strong advocate (to put it mildly) of both Brandy & Monica’s – for me they represent a golden era of R&B – but not even I can stand by this. They needed Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins, they needed better songwriters, they needed an intervention. This should have been better.
Brandy was once described as “the vocal bible” – it’s a pretty fitting label. Her voice is genuinely unlike any other voice around and the control she has over it is crazy. It’s unfortunate that despite having put out a solid string of records over the past few years, she’s been unable to attain the same level of success Never Say Never brought her. And while many are gasping to hear the upcoming Brandy & Monica reunion record – I remain cautiously aware that attempting to rekindle former glories (especially one this grand) is anything but easy. But, I digress…
Listen to exactly why Brandy is considered one of the best female (R&B) singers in the game. Listen to her live and acapella rendition of ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’…
I first heard ‘I Still Love You’ via Deviation’s RBMA International Festival stream – didn’t know anything about it, just that it was completely smash. I hit our Dev fam up to get the scoop and was informed that the track was by Switch (of Major Lazer) and that it was the first release off his Dubsided label. A surprise to say the least. The vocals come courtesy of Andrea Martin who is famed for writing songs for Monica (‘Before You Walk Out My Life’), En Vogue (‘Don’t Let Go (Love)’) and SWV (‘You’re the One’) to name a few.
I’ve become a little bit obsessed with this choon – on my 5th straight listen. I love it’s relentless, isolated beat and those harmonious BV’s – not to mention Martin’s powerhouse vocals. I miss these types of vocals – remember the 90′s?
‘Glassdrops’ featuring John LaMonica is the new single taken off Robot Koch’s recently released album The Other Side. The track is glitchy and dark and explores some interesting sonics, LaMonica’s vocals are harrowing but beautiful. The video reflects the mood of the song well.
Listen to and buy The Other Side via the bandcamp player below…
I had such a crush on Hinda Hicks back in the day, lol! In 97/98 Hicks was one of the illest emerging R&B artists in the UK – I mean do you remember ‘I Wanna Be Your Lady’? But unfortunately like UK artists back then she was often over shined by similar American acts, her career never really ‘popped off’ like it should have. Don’t forget during that period R&B was at an all time peak with female singers like Brandy, Monica, Aaliyah, TLC, Destiny’s Child etc as the competition.
… But she’s back! And her voice is still very much there, she sounds really good. The song isn’t doing it too tough for me admittedly, but it’s not terrible – it just sounds a little… Old. But she looks incredible still and like I said, that sexy voice is still very much there.
I sure do love me some Monica and granted, she’s been a little hit and miss (her entire career), but when she gets it right – she gets it right. Many found her last effort quite boring, I didn’t – I really enjoyed it. ‘Anything (To Find You)’, which samples Biggie’s ‘Who Shot Ya’ and features Rick Ross & Lil’ Kim – this is working it’s charm on me. Love Monica’s voice, love it when she sings this type of R&B – I still think she can come harder than this so hoping the new album New Life offers more, but for a first taste – I’m on it.