80s Music

Artist Profile: Bobby Brown

Robert Barisford Brown or more popularly known as Bobby Brown is a singer-songwriter, dancer, actor, and occasional rapper. He was one of the biggest R&B stars during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and he popularized new jack swing, synth-funk, hip-hop rhythms with a blend of a classic soul which often featured rap breaks in between melodic verses and choruses. He is also known for marrying famous singer Whitney Houston. In this article, we are going to get to know more about Bobby Brown and how he changed the R&B music forever. 

Early Life

Bobby Brown was born in Boston, Massachusetts and he grew up in Roxbury’s Orchard Park Projects. His first-ever performance on stage happened when he just three years old, he was picked as one of the kids to perform with the legendary James Brown when he performed in Boston. That performance sparked Bobby Brown’s interest in becoming a singer. He then decided to join the church choir where his singing abilities were recognized and developed. 

Career

Bobby Brown together with his childhood friends Ricky Bell, Corey Rackley, Michael Bivins, and Travis Pettus formed the group called New Edition when they were just nine years old. Corey Rackley left the group early that’s why Ricky Bell recommended Ralph Tresvant to join the group because he once sang with Bell as a duo. However, Travis Pettus also left the group and New Edition became a quartet that was composed of Tresvant, Bivins, Bell, and Brown. In 1982, New Edition became a quintet once again when their manager, Brooke Payne decided to add his nephew Ronnie DeVoe to the group. After performing in talent shows around Boston, New Edition finally signed a record deal with Streetwise Records. They released their debut album called “Candy Girl” in 1983 and its title track and carrier single reached the 20th spot on Billboard’s R&B singles chart. Their single Jealous Girl was Bobby Brown’s first full lead vocal performance. New Edition became instant pop sensations when they released their self-titled second album. The album contained the hit songs Mr. Telephone Man and Cool It Now. Despite being successful, Bobby Brown left New Edition because he was never paid rightfully considering the amount of money they earned from their success. However, Bobby Brown was featured on two more songs before he finally left the group in 1986. 

After Bobby Brown left New Edition, he signed a record deal with MCA Records and also worked with Steven Machat as his manager. MCA released Brown’s debut album entitled “King of Stage” in 1986 which scored a number one R&B hit Girlfriend. Brown decided to rest for a year while he was working on his second album. He sought the help of emerging production and songwriting team of L.A Reid and Babyface to handle the most of his second album. The result was the album entitled “Don’t Be Cruel” which was a state-of-the-art album that was released in 1988. The album featured five top-ten hits that entered the Billboard Hot 100 including the self-penned song My Prerogative which became his signature hit along with “Every Little Step” and the album’s title track. The album sold over twelve million copies worldwide which made it the best-selling album of 1989. The following year, Bobby Brown won a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for his song Every Little Step. He also won two American Music Awards, a People’s Choice Award, and a Soul Train Music Award. 

In 1992, Bobby Brown released his third album “Bobby” and even if it was released on the final days of the New Jack Swing era, it still managed to become a success and sold over three million copies. The album also had several hit singles such as Get Away, Humpin’ Around, and Good Enough. Bobby Brown also received his second Grammy Award for his song Humpin’ Around. Despite this success, “Bobby” did not match the sales of his previous album. 

After four years, he released his fourth solo album called “Forever” and because of Bobby Brown’s desire to break his previous patterns of writing and producing songs, and also due to lack of promotion, the album became a flop. After “Forever,” Bobby Brown left MCA Records and laid low for several years. He appeared as a featured artist on other singer’s single such as Real Love with Macy Gray, and Thug Lovin’ with Ja Rule. After a long hiatus, Bobby Brown released his fifth album called “The Masterpiece” which entered the 41st spot on the R&B albums chart on its debut. 

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