Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Brandy Album This Fall

It's official: one of the best-selling female artists of our time, Brandy will be releasing her fifth studio album this November. What is most exciting is that she will be reuniting with producer Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins for this record, entitled Human. Countless other producing and songwriting talents will help out as well, including the Neptunes, Rockwilder, and Bryan-Michael Cox.

Missing from this list is Timbaland, who produced Brandy's last album, 2004's Afrodisiac. Though applauded by critics as her best work yet, as a fan, I found it to be a muddled mess. With the exception of the first single, the Kanye-produced hit "Talk About Our Love," most of the album is weighed down by Timbaland's overpowering beats. While Timbaland often outshines artists on songs with his loud hit-or-miss production, Darkchild and Brandy tend to bring out the best in each other. Her 1998 smash Never Say Never and 2002 follow-up Full Moon are proof of the winning tandem's versatility and consistency; the beats are tight, but so are the harmonies, and strong songwriting never gets lost in the shuffle.

Afrodisiac and embarrassing Punk'd appearances aside (don't even get me started!), Brandy rightfully holds a place in music history. Once upon a time, before hip-hop beats sounded like 10-minute sessions on my keyboard, before the synthesizer heard around the world that was Usher's "Yeah," mainstream R&B prospered, and for good reason. From old school to new school, the music we grew up on deserved its major success; Brandy, TLC, Aaliyah, Destiny's Child... these women ruled the charts with the rhythm and blues of a new generation.

Of course, things are different now, but the prospect of another B-Rocka/Darkchild collaboration is always welcome. Hopefully they can capture their chemistry of yesteryear and we will get another stylish, honest record from Brandy.

Check out Brandy's Myspace to hear the first single off of Human, "Right Here (Departed)" and for video updates from "Bran-Bran" herself.

- Jessy Bartlett

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