Back in the mid ’90s R&B music was scorching the Billboard charts. With artists like Jodeci, Blackstreet, En Vogue, and so many more pumping out hits, amidst it all, a new star was born named Brandy Norwood. Commonly known as simply Brandy, she initially entered the music business as a backing vocalist for Immature, but blazed her own path in 1994 with the release of her self-titled debut album. An album which would go on to sell six million copies worldwide, making the accomplishment even more eye-popping, Brandy was only 15 years old at the time! The launch pad for an amazing career in entertainment, she would go to have her own sitcom entitled Moesha, thus launching a career in acting, find even more success as an artist with the 1998 album Never Say Never, and continue to be a leader in music for years to come.
Now, all theses years later, Brandy is a grown lady who has experienced a lot, but is ready to rock again with her latest album, B7. Her first studio album in eight long years, B7 finally hit the public back on July 31st through the singer’s own label, Brand Nu, Inc., in association with Entertainment One. A highly anticipated return that fans have been waiting a long time for, the title is self-explanatory, being her seventh studio album, but how does it hold up to Brandy’s previous work?
As stated, eight years is a long time because a lot has happened; styles have changed, and many other artists have come and gone. Fortunately, Brandy’s resume is strong enough to stand on its own, and she proved that well into the new millennium as she continuously put out top-selling music through 2012. Now with B7, recorded over the last three years, Brandy finds a way to offer her classic sound while combining a new flavor that will your grab attention.
Consisting of 15 tracks, three of which are brief segues to bridge the album’s story, Brandy brings forth a sense of maturity, strength, and wisdom. Like anyone, she has sustained her share of ups and downs – whether it be in relationships or unexpected life events. At this point, at 41 years of age, she merges all her experiences into the music and it is quiet striking.
With tracks celebrating being a strong, single mother, like “Baby Mama,” featuring Chance the Rapper, to others like “Borderline,” which touches on insecurity, there is no shortage of sheer honesty surrounding the album. And then there are other songs that cut deeply, like her confessions of heartbreak with “Saving All My Love,” “Lucid Dreams,” and Love Again,” with Daniel Caesar, to moments of self discovery as heard on the ever-so catchy “Unconditional Oceans.” Surrounding it all there are also more light-hearted lyrical songs such as the romantic “Rather Be” or “High Heels,” featuring Sy’rai. However, you cannot help but notice the internal battle of Brandy playing out on “Say Something,” “I Am More,” and the extremely powerful “Bye BiPolar.”
In truth, this is an album that digs extremely deep and shows you inside the soul of the artist. It is clear Brandy has grown as an performer, songwriter, and a person over the years. Bringing a very personal message in her music, making it even more effective, her voice is still as smooth and seductive as ever. On top of all of this, the production is modern enough to turn the heads of younger listeners, while still keeping classic ’90s R&B lovers satisfied. That is why Cryptic Rock gives the bold B7 4.5 out of 5 stars.