You most likely remember her as ‘Moesha’, the fun-loving protagonist of the self-titled sitcom from the late Nineties. The show that dealt with authentic real-life scenarios and portrayed them in a dynamic and particularly comical way. Alongside her acting career, the courageous Californian beauty stepped out into the vivacious world of R&B and went on to create the phenomenon known as her first record ‘Brandy’ which formed similarities to icons like Janet Jackson and Mary J Blige. Selling six million copies worldwide, it’s safe to say that Brandy provoked a great element of excitement in the wild world of Soul and Hip Hop. Fast forward to 2020 and after a heavily anticipated eight years, the ‘I Wanna Be Down’ singer has returned with an album that transports us back to the kitten heel and slip dress era and I can’t say I’m complaining.
Brandy’s fans will for sure not be disappointed with ‘B7’ as it remains as fresh, as fun and just as chill as what listeners would have heard from older tracks like ‘Full Moon’ and ‘Angel In Disguise’. Those laid back yet still prominently innovative and empowering vibes have clearly stuck with Brandy after all these years and if anything, have been polished with a more modern and contemporary sound with songs like ‘Love Again’ and ‘Baby Mama’ securing features from Daniel Caesar and Chance The Rapper. These features are what really make this record what it is.
The merging of that classic old-school Nineties sound with that modern soul element added to it, makes this album one of Brandy’s most experimental projects yet. The R&B artist even went on to say B7 is what her hit album ‘Never Say Never’ would sound like in the future. She said this in response to how she requested Darhyl Camper to work on this record, the acclaimed songwriter and producer who has collaborated with the likes of Mary J Blige, Mariah Carey and H.E.R. This was clearly a good shout from Brandy, as choosing a producer who’s worked with both established and upcoming artists has given ‘B7’ an impressive blend of cutting-edge flair and a throwback finesse.
‘B7’ also includes this beautifully artistic aspect which really captures a new side of Brandy’s creativity, showing that she’s putting out more than just an expected run of the mill R&B album and is instead dipping her feet into projects that take on a more serious tone. Her video for the track ‘Borderline’ proves exactly this. Brandy begins the music video by being dragged away kicking and screaming where she’s finally locked inside a padded cell, playing a character that is mentally ill with lyrics like ‘don’t wanna be skitzo this time’ and ‘don’t you ever hurt me’. Whether these lyrics strike a resemblance with Brandy’s own life or are just used to portray another person going through issues, it exhibits a new maturity for Brandy and feels like she’s wearing her heart on her sleeve, allowing this record to be an opportunity for Brandy to be vulnerable with her fans and displays a sense of openness, proving her music to be more inventive and organic.
Another track named ‘Bye Bipolar’ further gives this album a different sentiment with her own notes explaining this track is a metaphor about her love life. Despite the song not being about Brandy having Bipolar herself, she does discuss what it’s like to have mental problems in the song and she has suffered with these obstacles in her own life. This is an important message that the Grammy winner can give to her fans and through spreading her own awareness, she is presenting an honest representation of who she really is. A normal human being who’s used her struggles to create an incredibly brave piece of art that will inspire other artists to create something with just as much fearlessness and boldness as B7.
There’s no doubt that Brandy has made something truly groundbreaking with her new release but B7 will not be for everyone. If you’re not a fan of old school artists like Lauryn Hill and Macy Gray then this album may not be for you. A lot of tracks sound like something out of a Nineties throwback playlist, so if that’s not your vibe, B7 won’t be either. However, we’ve got to give Brandy more credit for the artist she is in 2020, while we all know and love her from shows like ‘Moesha’ and hits like ‘The Boy Is Mine’, Brandy is beyond any doubt branching into a more modern sound. With features from musicians like Daniel Caesar, the award winning star has not just used her past glories to stay relevant, she’s changing up her style and bringing listeners a contemporary experience with cool concepts. It will be hard for Brandy to upstage this one.
Article By Holly Turner