Wherein We Give Robert Barisford Brown His Propers
If you’ve followed me/ #MusicSermon for any significant amount of time you already know that I am unashamed of the gospel of Bobby Brown. I passionately evangelize about the kang…of stage. Bobby might be a punchline for drugs and bad behavior now, but your man ain’t pull Whitney Houston for no reason. Let’s revisit some of the highlights of the magnetic, charismatic Bad Boy of R&B.
First, let’s give due respect to one of the greatest R&B albums of all time; one of the first full New Jack Swing albums; and album you can put on and let rock today — Don’t Be Cruel.
Don’t Be Cruel was his second solo album, and with help from Babyface & Teddy Riley, it rocked for over a year after release.
What you have to be clear on with Bobby is that he genuinely was a gotdamn star. Swagger on 100 Electric presence on stage. All the moves.
Don’t Be Cruel generated five Top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and Top 5 singles on the Billboard R&B charts (all the singles were either #1 or #2)
TIMELESS JAMS. Sing out the call “The truth about a Roni…” in a room full of black people over 30, and the response “….she’s a sweet little girl” will immediately come back to you.
Look at your neighbor and say “Tender Roni.”
I’ve said this multiple times in multiple sermons, but “Every Little Step” Bobby is my favorite Bobby. It’s full star power Bobby. It’s “My album was #1 for 6 weeks and you can’t tell me sh*t” Bobby.
Grammy winner for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.
Don’t Be Cruel is certified 7x Platinum, and helped give birth to these little dancin’ ninjas like Usher and Chris Brown (yes, I know, Michael… but also Bobby). It is the reason that no matter how much Bobby clowns, is out of breath, shows up with fur stoles, whatever, I will still show up and stand up for his ass.
I mentioned stage presence, right? When he wasn’t getting arrested for less acts on stage, Bobby was killin’ them. With the highest selling album in 1989 and 12M albums sold worldwide, Bobby toured for Don’t Be Cruel from 88–90.
(Yes, this is Karyn White. They had a thing going for a minute pre-Whitney and pre-Terry Lewis)
Bobby could even flip a song about the Ghostbusters and have us moving (Still. Still a jam. Right now). This wasn’t Don’t Be Cruel, but it came immediately after (shouts again to Babyface). Gave Bobby the Best Male R&B Vocal Performance Grammy for the second year in a row. Too hot to handle, too cold to hold…
At the time Bobby met Whitney, he was on top of the world. That was what drew her to him in the first place. That swag, that confidence. Holding the crowd in his hand. This is the night they met, and the Soul Train performance that made Nippy “accidentally” bump into him and shoot looks at him all night.
And even though his career declined as hers continued to ascend to stratospheric heights, he still gave you full Bobby when he got on stage.
…even if he maybe dropped some crack during the performace. Still kept going like a true professional.
And his wife knew it…
In summary; when you pay homage to the r&b greats, the ‘90s greats, the New Jack Swing greats, the dance greats, any and all of the above, make sure Robert Barisford Brown is on your list. THE KING OF STAGE.