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Brandy is Brandy's self-titled debut album that was released on September 27, 1994 by Atlantic Records.

TracklistingEdit

  1. Movin' On 4:27
  2. Baby 5:13
  3. Best Friend 4:48
  4. I Wanna Be Down 4:51
  5. I Dedicate (Part I) 1:29
  6. Brokenhearted 5:52
  7. I'm Yours 4:01
  8. Sunny Day 4:29
  9. As Long As You're Here 4:45
  10. Always On My Mind 4:06
  11. I Dedicate (Part II) 0:55
  12. Love Is On My Side 5:09
  13. Give Me You 4:25
  14. I Dedicate (Part III) 1:01

Album BackgroundEdit

In 1990, Brandy Norwood's talent led to a binding oral contract with Teaspoon Productions, headed by Chris Stokes and Earl Harris, who obtained her gigs as a backing vocalist for their R&B boy band Immature.

During that same year, Stokes arranged the production of a demo tape which was handed over to Atlantic Recording Corporation executives. While they liked the material, they found Brandy too young at 11 years old and told her to come back when she was 14 years old

In 1993, amid ongoing negotiations with East West Records, Brandy's parents organized a recording contract with Atlantic Records after auditioning for the company's director of A&R, Darryl Williams.

Brandy subsequently dropped out of Hollywood High School later and was tutored privately from the tenth grade on.

During the early production stages of her debut on the Atlantic label, Brandy was selected for a role in the ABC sitcom "Thea", portraying the 12-year-old daughter of a single mother played by comedienne Thea Vidale. Broadcast to mediocre ratings, the series ended only eight months after its premiere.

Brandy appreciated the cancellation of the show as she was unenthusiastic about acting at the time and the taping caused scheduling conflicts with the recording of her album, stating: "I felt bad for everybody else but me. It was a good thing, because I could do what I had to do, because I wanted to sing [...] When Thea was canceled I was like, ‘Okay, I can now put all my focus into my album’."

RecordingEdit

Atlantic consulted relatively unknown then-21-year-old writer-producer Keith Crouch, (the nephew of gospel singer Andraé Crouch) to work with Brandy on the bulk of the throwback, funk-soul production of the album.

Brandy noted that her collaboration with Crouch "was very important for me as a young artist. She commented in 2012: "But what I really loved about Keith is he gave me real music. He didn’t give me teenybopper records. It was age appropriate, youthful records, but it was still real music. We had a great connection."

Crouch would go on to work on 50% of the album, setting much of the tone of the album, with four from his five tracks becoming singles upon its release.

While recording her vocals with him, Brandy was inspired by several singers, citing Whitney Houston and gospel group The Clark Sisters as major inspirations, particularly on "Movin' On."

However, Brandy struggled to identify with some of Crouch's material at first, especially on "Baby" whose lyrics made her afraid of not being old enough and the producer had to convince her to record.

While Crouch would provide the core sound of the album, Norwood also worked with all-male R&B group Somethin' for the People and Damon Thomas on some tracks.

A then 16-year-old Robin Thicke scored his first co-writing credit on the album with the song, "Love Is on My Side."

Chart PerformanceEdit

"Brandy" entered the Billboard 200 at #94, and peaked at #20 in its fifth week, remaining for 89 weeks on the Billboard 200.

The hit single "Baby" sold 800,000 copies in 1995 and "Brandy" was the 52nd best selling album of the year, with 1.2 million copies sold in the country.

The album was certified four-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). As of 2002, it had sold 2.12 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

In addition, "Brandy" peaked at #6 on the US Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It remained for 86 weeks on that chart.

In Canada, the album also peaked at number 20 on the Canadian RPM Singles Chart during the week of February 13, 1995; to date, it is certified gold by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA), denoting shipments of over 50,000 copies. It also peaked at #26 in Australia.

By May of 1999, it was reported that "Brandy" had sold five million copies worldwide, as of 2010 the album has sold over 6 million copies worldwide.

Critical ReceptionEdit

In his review for AllMusic, Eddie Huffman wrote that "this teenage R&B singer hit the Top Ten late in 1994 with "I Wanna Be Down", a representative track from her solid debut album. Brandy knows her way around a hip-hop beat, layering tender-tough vocals over spare arrangements like a lower-key Janet Jackson or a more stripped-down Mary J. Blige. Good songs and crisp production make Brandy a moody, moving success."

In 2007, Vibe rated "Brandy" among the 150 most essential albums since its launch. The magazine found that "Brandy's debut is slow, deliberate, and naive — not for lack of accomplishment, but because the best moments here sound as wide-eyed and new as a first date."

People compared the effort with Aaliyah's debut album, "Age Ain't Nothing but a Number" (which was released four months prior), writing: "While everything about Aaliyah screams here-and-now, Brandy's well-groomed blend of gently lilting hip hop and pop-soul has a more timeless appeal. With the poise and sassy confidence of a diva twice her age, Brandy mixes her love songs with tributes to her little brother ("Best Friend"), God ("Give Me You"), the perfect man ("Baby") and older crooners like Aretha and Whitney ("I Dedicate"). While this isn't groundbreaking stuff, Brandy has the pipes to become more than the latest teenage next-big-thing."

Anderson Jones from Entertainment Weekly was less enthusiastic with the album. He gave the album a C rating and considered it as: "An album that seems based on the philosophy 'If Aaliyah can do it, why can't I?' except that in singing about best friends, heroes, and puppy love instead of about making love, teen actress Norwood (TV's Thea) acts her age. A premature effort, at best."

In his Consumer Guide, Robert Christgau gave the album a "neither" score and said it "may impress once or twice with consistent craft or an arresting track or two. Then it won't."

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