A lot has changed in the music industry since Brandy’s last CD, Human, was released over 4 years ago. Gone are the days where you can ride a successful CD for 2 years and have multiple hit singles (that is unless you’re Adele, Rihanna or Lady Gaga). But that’s exactly what Brandy was used to with her first 2 (and most successful to date) albums, Brandy and Never Say Never. After several album release date push backs and a delayed music video for the Chris Brown assisted “Put It Down”, Two-Eleven is just hours away and ready to take on the world…well, almost. The CD is already on its second single, “Wildest Dreams”, which usually means 1 of 2 things….a saturated market of hit songs (think Nicki Minaj) or fishing for a hit to hype the CD release up. In Brandy’s case, I believe it’s more of the latter. But, as we all know, sales numbers don’t always equal quality.
Brandy has ditched her nasal tone for a sexier, lower register in the latter half of her career. Ironically, I like this Brandy a lot better than the hit making machine behind “The Boy Is Mine” and “I Wanna Be Down”. She had great singles back then, but I think CD’s like Aphrodisiac and Full Moon are more cohesive and conceptually grounded. As she preps for the official release of Two Eleven tomorrow (already available on iTunes today), something tells me this may be some of her best work yet.
One thing Brandy seems to be using as her secret weapon this go round is her image. Her CD cover alone is one of the best I’ve seen lately and she looks better than….well, she ever has. No word yet on whether or not she’ll be unleashing her “Brand Nu” alter rap ego again (it was first introduced on Timbaland’s Shock Value II project), but it sounds like she’s finally found her niche between R & B, Pop and Hip Hop. With the help of Timbaland, Frank Ocean and longtime collaborator Rodney Jerkins, it will be interesting to see what sounds she comes with.
Several of the CD’s tracks have already leaked, which could prove to be either hurtful or helpful to sales . Producer Bangledesh offers an addictive track on ‘Let Me Go”. Brandy’s vocals and the music here are on point, but the lyrics are somewhat corny to me. Then there’s the Rico Love produced “No Such Thing As Too Late” and “Paint This House”. On “No Such Thing As Too Late” she tells her lover that he’ll wait before moving to the bedroom if he really cares about her (think new age “Let’s Wait Awhile”). This time the production lacks a little (but fits the song’s concept), although Brandy’s voice is flawless. But “Paint This House” is the real showstopper of Ricco Love’s 2 tracks. I’ll just say she’d be shooting herself in the foot to not make this a single. “Nodding Off”, 1 of 4 bonus tracks on the Two-Eleven deluxe version, actually leaked in 2008. But it’s just as good now as it was then (check out a snippet of it in the video above).
Will you be buying Two-Eleven when it hits the shelves tomorrow, or passing it up?