Can I take y’all back two decades ago when Brandy, the official bubble gum Pop braid queen, released her first self-titled debuted album in 1994? A 90s version Whitney Houston, Brandy’s voice was light and smooth and her range was undeniable. Back then, music had a slight wholesome approach, and Brandy was the face of the good girl. With classic records and signature braided coif with baby hair framing her perfect heart-shaped face, it’s no wonder why we all miss Brandy.
Listen to ‘The 20 Year Influence of Brandy’ exclusive mix for Saint Heron by Suzi Analogue below:
Brandy asked us to be down, well before her first album in 1994. She co-starred out acting in roles which landed her on the hit TV show, ‘Thea’. The tension was high on the set between lead Thea and Brandy, but it didn’t stop Brandy from singing and dancing her way into our hearts.” Remember when Brandy sang Anita Baker’s ‘You Bring Me Joy’? Thea gave young Brandy evil face tea. Thankfully for Brandy’s sake, the show was canceled giving Brandy the opportunity to focus on her singing contract with Atlantic Records and becoming a Pop princess. Vocally, Brandy developed fast due endorsements from singing legends like Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, and Gladys Knight, all before the age of 20. After remixes of 1994’s ‘I Wanna Be Down’ were made, the jazzy, deep string-heavy ‘Baby’ in 1995 were released. If you were lucky, you got to see visuals of Brandy dancing in the middle of what looks like Time Square on Nickelodeon. Brandy simply shows you her moves while changing from white to hot, pink puffy coats and then, comfy oversized sweaters.
Follow up singles from her eponymous album like ‘Best Friend’, ‘Brokenhearted’, and ‘Sitting Up in My Room’ played often on the radio. Simultaneously, we were privileged to watch Brandy mature and play Moesha Mitchell, in which she explained life as a middle-class African-American in 1996’s UPN classic television show, ‘Moesha’. Dancing in the middle of the streets in opening credits, Brandy’s voiced the whole theme song. Although Brandy never actually sang on the show, she exhibited great acting skills, which solidified her as an all-around star. Can anyone remember the time Usher serenaded Moesha as character Jeremy on her front porch, or when Lil’ Kim the “Queen Bee” kidnapped her little brother Miles?
1998’s ‘Never Say Never’ was a more mature, adult contemporary outlet for Brandy, as well as her second album. Respectively releasing ‘The Boy is Mine’ as the first single, the ultimate-side chick anthem, Brandy and rival Monica vocally went head to head over grown-faced Mekhi Phifer. With Brandy’s angelic voice matched with Monica’s sultriness, we’re still not sure who won. However, you couldn’t ignore Brandy’s neck and hand gestures, which resembled her mentor Whitney Houston. ‘Never Say Never’ brought out Brandy’s grown woman side, enabling her to make great R&B singles like ‘Angel in Disguise’ and ‘Have You Ever’.
Ever-evolving yet holding true to her good girl persona, Brandy took her braids out and worked with Kanye West for the 2004 album titled ‘Aphrodisiac’. After releasing the finger-snapping single, ‘Talk About Our Love’, Brandy allowed her younger brother Ray J to get some of the spotlight, laying low to experience life without the cameras and a stage. Then she put her braids back in and partnered with Chris Brown in 2012’s ‘Put It Down’. By this time, Brandy reminded us of how far she has come and how she still looks and sings exactly the same.
With two decades packed as evidenced of her capabilities, Brandy has become legendary much like her predecessors. Undeniably paving the way for what seems to have now, become the era of the bad girls. Brandy’s bubble gum impact and accomplishments made it cool to be the good girl. With her perfect vocal delivery covering every track, it’s no wonder why Brandy has many like myself missing the 90’s and especially her.