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Afrodisiac is Brandy's fourth studio album that was released on June 28, 2004 by Atlantic Records.

TracklistingEdit

  1. Who I Am 3:35
  2. Afrodisiac 3:47
  3. Who Is She 2 U 4:43
  4. Talk About Our Love (featuring Kanye West) 3:34
  5. I Tried 4:45
  6. Where You Wanna Be (featuring (featuring T.I.) 3:32
  7. Focus 4:07
  8. Sadiddy 4:00
  9. Turn It Up 4:12
  10. Necessary 3:59
  11. Say You Will 3:50
  12. Come As You Are 3:44
  13. Finally 3:53
  14. How I Feel 4:41
  15. Should I Go 4:46

Album BackgroundEdit

In February of 2002, Brandy released her third album, "Full Moon." During the production of the album, she became romantically involved with producer Robert "Big Bert" Smith. They began a relationship during the summer of 2001, but it didn't become known until February 2002, which was the same month that Brandy revealed that she was pregnant with her first child.

A year after the birth of Brandy and Big Bert's daughter, Sy'rai Iman Smith on June 16, 2002, the couple officially announced their separation. It wasn't until 2004 that Big Bert revealed that he & Brandy had never been legally married and they had only portrayed the notion of being married to preserve Brandy's public image.

By the following year, Brandy had begun a relationship with NBA guard Quentin Richardson. They soon became engaged in July 2004, but she eventually ended their 15-month engagement in October 2005.

RecordingEdit

Following the birth of her daughter in June 2002, Brandy soon entered recording studios to begin work on her then-untitled fourth album with producer Mike City and companion Robert "Big Bert" Smith.

As Brandy envisioned the album to sound "much rawer" and more "street" than her previous album, Smith quickly emerged as the album's executive producer and A&R, replacing longtime contributor and mentor Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins (who Brandy felt was not going in the same direction creatively after all).

About parting ways with Jerkins, Brandy commented that "Darkchild created a sound with me and gave it to everybody. I didn't like that [...] I needed to change my sound and I wanted to explore my versatility, my creativity and my art.

The couple eventually finished a number of demo recordings and at least four full songs until late November 2002, including "Ryde or Die" and Sy'rai-inspired "Sunshine."

Although Smith expected the album to drop by spring 2003 at one time or another, Brandy and Big Bert ended their relationship in mid-2003, resulting in the album's delay and several personnel changes.

Brandy eventually decided to scrap most of the project and enlisted Timbaland instead. Impressed by Timaland's input, she rediscovered the musical affection, she had missed on Full Moon and its technical priority.

Brandy said: "I made the change because I needed to evolve. I needed to explore my talent and versatility and see if I had another side to me, another sound. I wanted to do my own thing, and I've always wanted to work with Timbaland [...] and see how my voice would sound over his tracks. It was an edgier Brandy, a sassier sound, but still with a lot of heart and a lot of passion."

With the help of Timbaland protégés such as Candice Nelson, Steve "Static" Garrett, and co-producer Walter Millsap III the pair worked on what was tentatively titled B-Rocka — a nickname actually given to her by Jerkins — and originally planned for a Christmas 2003 release.

Their first collaboration, 1990s tribute "Turn It Up", was leaked onto the internet in autumn 2003, and soon released as a promotional buzz track.

Having concluded additional recording sessions with Warryn Campbell, Theron Feemster & Organized Noise in November 2003, Atlantic Records announced that Brandy was putting on the finishing touches of her still untitled album; at the time, it was scheduled to be released on March 2, 2004.

Brandy went on to shoot a music video for the "hyper, bass-heavy" banger "Black Pepper" during the second week of December; however, plans for the single fell through as the Timbaland-produced track was scrapped in favor of a new record: "Talk About Our Love", produced by rapper Kanye West.

Both the single and album cut "Where You Wanna Be" were eleventh-hour additions to the album, commissioned by West's manager Geroid Roberson, one of the executive producers on Afrodisiac, who encouraged Norwood to attempt further studio sessions with West.

According to Brandy about working with Kanye West: "Kanye put the finishing touches on the record. The two tracks we did were just what I needed to tie the whole thing together."

Chart PerformanceEdit

"Afrodisiac" debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 and #4 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, selling more than 131,000 copies during its first week. It was certified gold by the RIAA for more than 500,000 copies shipped to stores (including 417,000 sold copies).

Critical ReceptionEdit

"Afrodisiac" became her most well received album at the time, averaging a 73 out of a 100 among averaged reviews on Metacritic, which uses a normalized rating system.

Andy Kellman of AllMusic gave it four out of five stars and praised it as "Brandy's fourth consecutive durable showing, [...] stocked with a number of spectacular — and emotionally resonant — singles that wind up making for her most accomplished set yet."

David Browne of Entertainment Weekly gave the album an A- rating, calling it "Brandy's meatiest album to date", and ranked it sixth on his personal year-end top ten list. He found special approval for Timbaland, "who produced most of the disc, turns up the bass, the volume, and the tension whenever he can, bolstering her less-than-commanding, down-pillow-soft voice."

Rolling Stone writer James Hunter, like both Kellman and Browne, compared the album to "Janet Jackson at her best: She's a pop star, but she's making the most of her big studio budgets and is following her muse." He described the set as "mainstream soul with eccentric details and shadings" and gave the album four stars out of five.

Vibe writer Laura Checkoway gave the album 3.5 out of 5 stars and noted it as "a far cry from the pleasing pubescent fluff of her formative years," and although she felt that "Brandy's sultry alto drowns on some songs," she acknowledged, that "while Brandy's musical liaison with Timbaland is what some people might call a match made in heaven, it's her crazy, sexy, cool revival that's the true bliss of this fourth coming."

Steve Jones from USA Today gave the album a three out of four stars rating, and commented: "Timbaland provides her with plenty of funk-infused beats to groove to [and] while a few of the tracks are a bit pedestrian, Brandy is still seductive more often that not."

Ben Sisario, who wrote for Blender and gave the album three out of five stars, summed the album as "an episode of her growing-pains TV show Moesha: This week, our honey-voiced heroine sheds her girlishness, sexing up to become 'a woman, a passionate woman'," referring to its lyrical makeover. He called non-Timbaland productions like "Talk About Our Love" and "Say You Will" the highlights of the album.

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