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  Bobby Brown
 

 

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Click below for a Bobby Brown sample:

Every Little Step

  

 
With the seemingly unending swirl of drama surrounding his marriage to Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown's contributions to music can sometimes be overlooked.  Yet it is important to note that he was one of the most influential performers of the late 80s, ushering in the age of new jack swing with the Don't Be Cruel album.

As a member of New Edition, Brown was spotlighted on such teen classics as "Mr. Telephone Man" and "Is This The End," but he left the group in 1986, looking for a harder-edged sound than the bubblegum that was New Edition's bread and butter.  His debut album, King of Stage, yielded a minor hit in "Girlfriend," but was largely in the mode of his work with New Edition.   All of that would change with Don't Be Cruel.

The quintessential r&b album of the late 80s, Cruel merged Brown's affinity for rap with the highly developed production skills of L.A. and Babyface (and, to a lesser extent, Teddy Riley), coming up with a style that was creatively influential and commercially unstoppable.  The album produced a series of hits, including "Every Little Step," "Roni," "My Perogative" and the title tune, catapulting Brown into superstardom.  As the first LP to successfully demonstrate that rap dynamics could be incorporated into r&b, Don't Be Cruel marked a turning point in the development of soul music, and its impact continues to be felt in the r&b/rap crossovers and neo-soul that dominate today's airwaves.

It was admittedly difficult to follow up such an impressive album, and Brown took his time, working on film soundtracks and marrying Whitney Houston before issuing Bobby in 1992.  Buoyed by the strong reception to "Get Away" and "Humpin' Around," the album was a good seller but ultimately considered a disappointment by critics and fans, who were expecting another blockbuster.  

Since then, Brown's become more known for his frequent apperances in rumor mills than for his musical gifts.  Forever was released to little fanfare in 1997 and while he claims to be working on a new project, the consensus seems to be that his best days are behind him....

Or at least that is what everyone thought until Brown's shocking comeback as the king of reality television, as he turned the constant swirl of attention around him into the extremely popular Being Bobby Brown.  Alternately thrilling and disheartening, viewers got to watch the exploits of Bobby and Whitney as they embarked on insane shopping sprees, failed barbecues, and drunken/drugged out arguments, all within easy distance of their children, who were treated more like accessories than real people. Flipping the script like this undoubtedly gave Brown satisfaction, but his critics may yet get the last laugh, as Houston, possibly after being forced to watch the show without the aid of intoxicants, officially filed for divorce in October 2006.  

Bobby Brown's Deepest Grooves

King of Stage (MCA, 1987)

Don't Be Cruel (MCA, 1988)

Dance!...Ya Know It! (MCA, 1990)

Bobby (MCA, 1992)

Remixes N the Key of B (MCA, 1993)
Notable for the catchy single "Something In Common," a duet with wife Whitney Houston.

Forever (MCA, 1997)

Greatest Hits (MCA, 2000)
The end of the road for Bobby Brown?  Compilations are usually concessions that an artist has no worthwhile material forthcoming, but even if Brown never regains his prominence, this is a nice encapsulation of his career.  All the major hits are showcased, including the rare duet with Gleen Medeiros "She Ain't Worth It."   A shining example of late 80s/early 90s soul.

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