Brandy-1994-Album-VIBE-1569591476
Apple Music

10 Things You Didn't Know About Brandy's Debut Album

The singer's breakthrough album realigned the makings of a pop-R&B star.

Known as on the most important voices of her time Brandy Norwood's unique presence in music is one of a kind. It all started with the release of her self-titled debut album Brandy in 1994 which spawned many hits and a new sound in modern R&B.

Twenty-five years later, the album sounds just a fresh as its debut. With production from Keith Crouch, Curtis Wilson (of Somethin' for the People fame) and Damon Thomas, Brandy was a true teenage dream as it touched on friendships, young love while allowing Brandy to soar.

A Billboard notes, the album delivered two No. 1 singles on the Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop chart ("Baby" and "Brokenhearted") and hit No. 20 on the Billboard 200. Grammy nominations and endless praise for the project from the older crowd was one thing, but the singer's ability to craft a genuine girl next door quality made her songs relatable to any 90s kid.

True Brandy fans know how her monumental project came together but for the rest, here's a list of things you should know about the album.

---

1. "Best Friend" Was Meant To Be A Duet With Ray J

“That was about [my brother] Ray J. It was supposed to be a duet," the singer told Billboard for the album's 20th anniversary. The song also had a different aura as it includes flute solo. It was also the first time the singer sang a song outside of her Christian background. "I loved ‘Best Friend’ because I got a chance to do my own backgrounds. I come from a church where I grew up singing a capella," she said. "So I love playing with different notes and feeling that union with different harmonies and sounds. I love singing backgrounds more than I do lead. And this song was the first time I’d felt that feeling outside of the church.”

2. Keith Crouch Produced Tracks For Brandy And Lalah Hathaway In The Same Year

At 21, Crouch was a busy bee. Kicking his career off at age 15, the producer enjoyed a breakout year in 1994 when he produced and wrote for both Brandy and Lalah Hathaway. Crouch produced a majority of Brandy's self-titled album including the songs "Baby," "Best Friend," "I Wanna be Down" and the touching "Brokenhearted." Meanwhile, he made sure Hathaway's sophomore project A Moment, a true well, moment. Crouch produced tracks like "Separate Ways," "Rise" and "These Are The Things You Do To Me."

3. Brandy Earned The Coveted Best New Artist Grammy Nomination

Following the release of her album, the singer was nominated for Best New Artist and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "Baby." Brandy lost out on her Best New Artist nod to Hootie & the Blowfish but would go on to snag a gramophone for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for "The Boy is Mine" with Monica in 1999.

4. Chris Stokes Wanted To Sign Her

At the age of 11, Brandy was on the path to superstardom. The singer starred in the short-lived ABC sitcom Thea but wanted to pursue her singing career. This led her parents to Chris Stokes and a spot singing background vocals for the Marques Houston-led group Immature. Stokes helped to create her demo which was passed along to Atlantic Records. After slight hesitation regarding her age, then-A&R Darryl Williams signed the singer to the label.

5. Robin Thicke Performed Background Vocals/Co-Wrote "Love Is On My Side"

Brandy called her session for "Love Is on My Side" "vocally challengling." Produced by Damon Thomas with some assistance from a young Robin Thicke, Brandy told Billboard she was intimidated by drums and organs used on the song.

"I needed to give everything to that song," she said. "I had to push myself to give it what it deserved. To see Robin doing well now, and still being able to do his thing and write his own songs, it’s so amazing. He was 17, writing way back when we had some great times as artists.”

6. The Album Remained On The Billboard 200 For 89 Weeks

Brandy's chart takeover was all thanks to her singles "I Wanna Be Down," "Baby," "Brokenhearted" and "Best Friend." The tracks enjoyed spots across the Billboard Hot 100 chart (with many of them in the Top 10). Her self-titled album debuted on the Billboard 200 chart at No. 98 with arguably her best album Never Say Never entering at No. 3. Brandy went on to live on the charts for a whopping 89 weeks.

7.  Critics Constantly Compared Her Debut To Aaliyah's

With Aaliyah's chill demeanor and sweet vocals, it was sadly second nature for critics to pit another young black teen like Brandy against her but both ladies never gave in to the critics.

“I met Aaliyah when I was about 15. I was so excited to meet her because she was the first girl on the scene," Brandy said of their friendship in 2011 with Billboard.  "She came out before Monica and I did, she was our inspiration. At the time, record companies did not believe in kid acts and it was just inspiring to see someone that was winning and being themselves. When I met her I embraced her, I was so happy to meet her. I told her how much I loved her. She said the same thing about me and we connected. It was a great moment I’ll never forget."

She also made it clear to shout her out at the 1995 Soul Train Awards after one of her comments about the singer was misinterpreted.

8. She Heard "I Wanna Be Down" For The First Time At A Taco Bell

Every artist remembers the first time they hear their song on the radio. Most of the time they're at home or in a car but for Brandy, things were a little different. "It felt so good hearing it on the radio that first time at Taco Bell," she recalled. "It felt like it belonged there.”

9. She Rushed Through The Recording Process of "Brokenhearted" So She Can Get To An Amusement Park

She was 14, of course she did!

10. Brandy's First Album Inspired Jill Scott and Erykah Badu's Debuts

It's been said time and time again about the heavy number of vocalists Brandy has inspired. From Solange to Britney Spears, everyone found a little bit of themselves in Brandy's music and style. Fellow icons like Erykah Badu and Jill Scot have sited Brandy's first album as a blueprint of sorts for their respective debuts. "Brandy's first album was one of my inspirations when writing Baduizm," she shared on social media. "I looove that album [...] songs i liked were "I Wanna Be Down" and "Always on My Mind"... nice."

As peers celebrated the singer's 20 years in the business, Scott noted how she listens to jams like "Sunny Day" and "Always On My Mind." There's also the very long list of names like Miguel, Lil Mo, Luke James, Shante Moore, Jordin Sparks, Teyana Taylor, Sevyn Streeter, Elle Varner, Syleena Johnson, Maxwell and many more who have praised her debut album as a major inspiration.

Stream Brandy's self-titled album below.

From the Web

More on Vibe

CIRCA 1980: Photo of Bill Withers
David Corio/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Bill Withers' Greatest Hits: Remixed, Sampled And Covered

The recent loss of legends in jazz, soul and classical music have saddened the music industry and reminded us of their touching gifts to music. The passing of Manu Dibango, Krzysztof Penderecki, Ellis Marsalis Jr., Bucky Pizzarelli and Alan Merrill brought endless tributes from peers and fans with the recent loss of soul singer-songwriter Bill Withers doing the same.

With a mirage of hits, the iconic songwriter left his mark on music with the release of his debut album Just As I Am in 1971. "Ain't No Sunshine" put a spotlight on his songwriting while 1977's "Lovely Day" reminded the industry of his signature vocals. Withers released eight studio albums, one live album and garnered three Grammys for his powerful songs that gave hope and love to fans to this day.

Hip-hop and R&B have gained the most from Withers as his music went on to inspire records like "No Diggity" by BLACKStreet, "Roses" by Kanye West and other songs from UGK, Dr. Dre, Jill Scott and more.

Take a look at some of Withers' finest tunes covered, remixed and sampled below.

__

8. “Lovely Day” | Menagerie (1977)

Sampled On: T.W.D.Y., “Player’s Holiday” | Derty Werk (1999) LunchMoneyLewis - “It's Gonna Be A Lovely Day” feat. Aminè | Pets 2 Soundtrack (2019) Swizz Beatz - “Take A Picture” |One Man Band (2007)

Standout: T.W.D.Y., “Player’s Holiday” | Derty Werk (1999)

Short for "The Whole Damn Yay," the group used Withers' sample while throwing a splash of The Bay's laid back flavor. With cameos from future legends like E-40 and Ray Luv, the single already embodied the best of R&B and hip-hop with guest verses from Too Short, Mac Mall and Otis & Shug. The mimosas and yacht are also a great touch.

Covered By: Jill Scott, The Original Jill Scott from the Vault Vol. 1 (2011) Alt-J, This Is All Yours (2014) Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio 2 (2013) Kirk Franklin, The Nu Nation Project (1998)

Standout: Kirk Franklin, The Nu Nation Project (1998)

Who was going to beat a chorus singing to the lordt? Franklin's take on the classic gives us stirring gospel and appreciation for Withers and God. There are plenty of covers that have lifted the same vocals as Withers, but the ones listed have put their unique spin on the track.

7. “Ain't No Sunshine” | Just As I Am (1971)

Sampled On: DMX - “No Sunshine” | Exit Wounds Soundtrack (2001) Lil B - “Up And Down” | Based Jam (2012) 2Pac- "Soulja's Story" |  2Pacalypse Now (1991)

Standout: DMX - “No Sunshine” | Exit Wounds Soundtrack (2001)

"No Sunshine" served as the only single from DMX's film alongside Steven Seagal, which gave everyone the perfect backdrop to the movie and X's intricate storytelling. Both the original and flipped version points out the dark elements of our lives. Withers penned the song after watching the film 1962 movie Days of Wine and Roses, he pondered over the toxicity in his life. "Sometimes you miss things that weren't particularly good for you," he said in 2004 to SongFacts. "It's just something that crossed my mind from watching that movie, and probably something else that happened in my life that I'm not aware of."

Covered By: Soul For Real | Candy Rain (1994) Michael Jackson | Got to Be There (1972) The Boris Gardiner Happening | Is What's Happening (1973) The Temptations | Solid Rock (1972)

Standout: Michael Jackson | Got to Be There (1972)

At 14, the future King of Pop gave a riveting cover of Withers' hit for his debut album, Got To Be There. From his vocal control throughout the track to the instrumentation, his cover takes the song to another level of heartbreak.

6. "Grandma's Hands” | Just As I Am (1971)

Sampled On: BLACKstreet - “No Diggity” feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen | Another Level (1996) Big K.R.I.T. - “I Gotta Stay” | K.R.I.T. Wuz Here (2010) Brother Ali - “Waheedah's Hands” | Champion (2004)

Standout: BLACKstreet - “No Diggity” feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen | Another Level (1996)

R&B heads are well aware of BLACKstreet's neverending ballads and the genius of Teddy Riley. But the pivot of their sound for their sophomore album Another Level was due to Withers and the William “Stylez” Stewart. Speaking to Fact Mag in 2017, the creator of New Jack Swing gave credit to Stylez for bringing him the sample of "Grandma's Hands."

“If he hadn’t played that sample for me, there would never be a ‘No Diggity’ And if he didn’t write it according to the melody I gave him so it would sound that way because I wanted it to sound funky,” he said. “I wanted it to be appealing to everyone, but mostly to women. I wanted every woman to feel like they were the ‘No Diggity’ girl and that song was about them and it came across. And now, still, today, that song plays and people are on that dancefloor.”

Covered By: Gil Scott-Heron, Reflections (1981) Merry Clayton, Merry Clayton (1971) Barbra Streisand, Butterfly (1974)

Standout: Gil Scott-Heron, Reflections (1981)

Gil Scott-Heron's version of the soul classic reminded us of his versatile talents. From spoken word to his vocal abilities, the Godfather of rap music always came through with his own sound and style. Reflections was one of four albums the late artist dropped in the 80s with critics looking to it as one of his finest projects. Other cuts from the album included "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" and "B Love."

5. "Use Me" | Still Bill (1972)

Sampled On: Kendrick Lamar - “Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst"  | Good kid, Maad City (2012) J. Cole- "Dollar And A Dream II" | The Warm-Up (2009) Leela James - “So Good" | Fall For You (2014) UGK - "Use Me Up" | The Southern Way (1992)

Standout: Kendrick Lamar - “Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst"  | Good kid, Maad City (2012)

Lamar's take on "Use Me" blended right into the themes of his debut album, Good kid, Maad City allowing the artist to create another world on the project. To make things even better, Lamar also sampled Al Green's "I'm Glad You're Mine" for the track.

Covered By: Grace Jones, Indigo Nights, Live (2008) Mick Jagger feat. Lenny Kravitz, Wandering Spirit  (2004) Issac Hayes, Dr. Dolittle Soundtrack (1998)

Standout: Mick Jagger feat. Lenny Kravitz, Wandering Spirit (2004)

On his third solo album, Jagger linked with Rick Rubin to test his creative energy, allowing him to work with Lenny Kravitz on their version of "Use Me." Colliding worlds was one thing but to hear Kravitz's vocals come in on the bridge, set the track apart from the rest.

4. “Kissing My Love” | Still Bill (1972)

Sampled On: J. Cole - “The Cut Off" featuring kiLL Edward  | KOD (2018) Dr. Dre - "Let Me Ride" featuring Snoop Dogg, RC and Jewell | The Chronic (1992) Masta Ace- "Movin On" | Take A Look Around (1990) Master P- "Bastard Child" | The Ghettos Tryin To Kill Me! | 1994

Standout: Dr. Dre - "Let Me Ride" featuring Snoop Dogg, RC and Jewell | The Chronic (1992)

"Kissing My Love" is one of most sampled from Withers catalog, thanks to its feverish drums. It's also why it fits into Dr. Dre's single and the G-funk era.

3. Grover Washington's “Just The Two of Us” featuring Bill Withers | Winelight (1981)

Sampled/Covered On:  Will Smith - “Just The Two of Us” | Big Willie Style (1997) Eminem- "Just The Two of Us" | Slim Shady EP (1997) Keri Hilson- "Pretty Girl Rock" | No Boys Allowed (2010)

Standout: Will Smith - “Just The Two of Us” | Big Willie Style (1997)

Touching and soulful, Smith's dedication to his eldest son Trey is just too cute for words.

2. “Let It Be” | Just As I Am  (1967)

The Original: The Beatles - “Let It Be” | Let It Be (1968)

"Let It Be" is a pretty special record. Aretha Franklin recorded a version a year before the release of The Beatles' version and Withers gave his take on the record in the 70s. Slightly faster, his upbeat take on "Let It Be" just hits different.

1. “Rosie” | Menagerie Re-Issue (1977)

Sampled On: Kanye West - “Roses” |  Late Registration (2005)

As the somber part of Late Registration, "Roses" brings us into Kanye's world where he contemplates the mortality of a loved one. It's a sentimental take on the sample and one of the artist's most underrated songs. It's also a hidden gem for Withers as it isn't featured on Menagerie's LP. It was added as a bonus track on

Enjoy the jams in playlist form below.

Continue Reading
YouTube

Remain Calm: 5 Ways To Curve Negative Effects Of Coronavirus Isolation

Self-isolation during the coronavirus outbreak seems to be best practice in keeping our families and peers safe but it's also a shift in our normal social behavior. As millions of families around the country get adjusted to self-isolation, the state of our mental health and how our bodies react to the practice are changing by the day, especially lower-income and marginalized groups.

Speaking with Wired, John Vincent, a clinical psychologist at the University of Houston, shared how apathetic behavior can rise to the forefront, making space for anxiety and depression.

“People start getting lethargic when they don’t have positive inputs into their small worlds,” Vincent says. “We can expect depression to kick in, and depression and anxiety are kissing cousins.”

But the biggest reason behind the uneasiness isn't the self-isolation but just how long it will last. Details of COVID-19 are changing by the day with the most cases now coming out of New York. Yet, there's still little to no information on what happens next.

“Open, transparent, consistent communication is the most important thing governments and organizations can do: Make sure people understand why they are being quarantined first and foremost, how long it is expected to last,” Samantha Brooks of King’s College London told the outlet. “A huge factor in the negative psychological impact seems to be confusion about what's going on, not having clear guidelines, or getting different messages from different organizations.”

Uncertainty hitting low income and marginalized groups is also a problem within itself. As virtual parties and celebrities opening up on social media happen on a daily, there are people who might not access fun distractions on the web.

“Some people have posited technology as a means of connecting people, but lower-income groups might not even have FaceTime or Skype or minutes on their phone,” Thomas Cudjoe, a geriatrician researching the intersection of social connections and aging at Johns Hopkins University says. “People take that for granted, using their devices can be a strain on people’s incomes.”

To make self-isolation less than a bore or a daunting task, experts suggest creating a schedule to dictate control in your home.

1. Work It Out

Gyms are closed, but your home can be transformed into a personal training center. Use heavy bags for weights and if you can, create a playlist of workouts on YouTube. For those who have memberships for Blink or Peloton, the platforms have streamed their workouts on apps.

2. Mindful Meditation

Meditation isn't about dumping your thoughts, it's about staying aware and mindful. AQUA has developed online that leverages the power of "Mindful Meditation and Mobility Movements" for flexibility and fluidity in the body. Classes are free of charge but feel free to donate.

3. Take It Back To High School

Give your friends a call or indulge in a FaceTime party. Feel free to use the Wifi in your home to reduce the amount of data used on your phone. Lala Anthony held a too-cute FT birthday party for writer Kiyonna Anthony with a 70s theme. You can also find creative ways to hop on the phone with friends and family instead of constantly chatting about 'rona.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

We made the best out of our quarantine situation🎉‼️FACETIME 70s Party💃🏽🎉HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY NIECE @kiyonnathewriter ❤️❤️💃🏽💃🏽SHOUT OUT TO ALL MY ARIES ♈️ MAKE THE BEST OF IT!!!😘

A post shared by ℒᎯ ℒᎯ (@lala) on Mar 23, 2020 at 7:14pm PDT

4. Start A Journal

Journals just aren't for kids. The practice not only gives you something to do, but it fuels creativity and a new level of self-awareness. Former First Lady Michelle Obama recently developed Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice, with over 150 inspiring questions and quotes that connect to key themes in her memoir. The journal will also help bring readers to terms with the importance of family and personal reflections as well as the goals they'd like to make a reality.

5. Have a Dance Party or Enjoy Lo-Fi Beats To Quarantine To

If you don't have data or battery power to watch a virtual DJ party, make your own. If you have to pull out your record player, do it! You can also hop on your favorite streaming service and create a playlist all your own.

Continue Reading
Getty Images

From Teen Sensation To Vocal Bible: Brandy's 15 Best Songs

September 27, 2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the multiplatinum self-titled debut album by one of R&B’s greatest voices, Brandy Rayana Norwood, or simply Brandy. She was already well on her way to stardom prior to her debut as a background vocalist for Immature and one of the stars of the short-lived ABC series, Thea. However, it was the album Brandy that set her on the path to tremendous success.

Since officially bursting onto the scene in 1994 sporting her well-known braided crown of glory, she has been a force to be reckoned with. She was handpicked by her idol, the late Whitney Houston, to portray the role of the first Black Cinderella in the 1997 film Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella. Her show Moesha was one of the longest-running black sitcoms. Brandy was also a CoverGirl in 1999 and became a friend of Barbie that same year when Mattel released the Brandy Doll. In music, she’s released six studio albums, sold more than 40 million records worldwide, headlined three world tours, and won more than 30 awards including seven Billboard Music Awards, a Grammy and the Soul Train Lady of Soul Award. Brandy deserves her flowers.

Let’s check out the top 15 songs that helped solidify Brandy as your favorite singer’s favorite singer (just ask Solange) and earned her the title of the “Vocal Bible.”

Continue Reading

Top Stories