That is the word that I think of when discussing the album Brandy. IAll of the tracks on the debut album from singer/actress Brandy Norwood resonate on many levels, from first love to first heartbreak, with great friendship in between. The album, released by Atlantic Records in September of 1994, was one of the first albums of its generation that embraced the R&B/Hip Hop sound, and when blended with the unique stylings of Norwood, it was destined to be a classic.
And it was.
Brandy took eight months to be completed, with production from R&B group Somethin’ for the People and musician Keith Crouch. Brandy would later describe the collection of songs as young and vulnerable, saying “I didn’t really know a lot–all I wanted to do was basically sing.” And it was a hit from the day it hit store shelves.
The album went on to sell over six million copies worldwide, peaked at number 20 on the U.S. Billboard 200, and produced three top ten hits on the Billboard Top 100, including “I Wanna Be Down” and “Baby” (co-written by singer Rahsaan Patterson), both of which hit number one on the Billboard Hot R&B Singles charts and were certified Platinum. The third single, “Brokenhearted,” a duet with Boyz II Men‘s Wanya Morris, reached number two on the same charts. There were also two GRAMMY nominations for the debut, including Best New Artist and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
And then there was the remix. You know the one. THE remix. The REMIX. The one featuring the first ladies of Hip Hop: MC Lyte, Yo-Yo, and Queen Latifah. Yes, the remix to the single “I Wanna Be Down.” No, it didn’t appear on the album, yet it solidified Brandy as an artist to be reckoned with. She was already a brilliant singer who would hit runs with extreme ease, but this… THIS gave her the street cred that all R&B artists crave. Goodness.
She went on to tour with Boyz II Men for two months to promote and support the album, all while making soundtrack magic with Babyface with “Sittin’ Up In My Room” from Waiting to Exhale and collaborating with Tamia, Chaka Khan, and Gladys Knight with “Missing You” from the film Set It Off.
Other standouts from Brandy include the single “Best Friend” and the album tracks “Always on My Mind” (written by Crouch) and “Love Is on My Side” (co-written by a very young Robin Thicke). Just a timeless project that can still set off so many emotional cues to this day. Brandy may have just wanted to sing, but with this collection of hits, she went ahead and made history, which is just one reason why it’s appropriate for it to be honored during Women’s History Month.
So let’s show some love to Brandy on the occasion of its 25th anniversary. We know that Brandy the artist went on to make so many more hits, with this project serving as her Platinum foundation. Now go on a press play on the videos below and relive the era where crushes were real, friendship was key, and even being brokenhearted was provided a soundtrack.
Good, good timeless times.