Saturday, June 11, 2011
Essential Albums of the '80s: Bobby Brown - Don't Be Cruel (1988)
New Jack Swing was a style of pop music that came to prominence in the late '80s thanks to producer Teddy Riley, as well as Babyface, who with L.A. Reid produced this album. The sound combined elements of pop, R&B and hip-hop--not too dissimilar to what's been popular in recent years. While Keith Sweat's 1987 hit "I Want Her" was the first major hit to use the sound, Bobby Brown's second album, Don't Be Cruel, became the sound's flagship when it became the best-selling album of 1989, generating five top 10 hits. The album's singles are all front-loaded and generally the album's best moments, with the upbeat tracks like #1 single "My Prerogative" and bouncy "Every Little Step" aging better than the treacly ballads "Roni" and "Rock Wit'Cha." As was the common practice back then, most of the album's later singles were slightly remixed when released, which means "Every Little Step" and "Roni," in particular, don't sound as fresh as you might remember. However, they are better than the album's second half, which can be disregarded.
Brown would go on to marry Whitney Houston, put out another semi-successful album, 1992's Bobby, which featured a couple of big hits ("Humpin' Around" and "Good Enough"), and then slowly decline amid tabloid stories of his tumultuous relationship with Houston and an ill-conceived reality TV show.
Best: My Prerogative, Every Little Step, Don't Be Cruel, Roni