Brandy: Two Eleven

Posted October 22, 2012 by in



2/ 5


Genre: r&b
Producer: Bangladesh, The Bizness, Sean Garrett, Rico Love, Jim Jonsin, Breyon Prescott, Harmony Samuels, Mike WiLL Made It, Midi Mafia, Mario Winans
Label: RCA
Format: CD, digital download
Time: 47:50
Release Date: 12 October 2012
Spin This: Hardly Breathing


A few slow jams on the back end of the disc save the day


The sparse instrumentation on the club-laced uptempos lack inspiration

Brandy’s Two Eleven regrettably feels like a disappointing update for Twenty Twelve

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Brandy’s Two Eleven regrettably feels like a disappointing update for Twenty Twelve

R&b singers seem to be struggling to get noticed in today’s Top 40 popularity contest. Seriously, there’s enough blame to go around. As for Brandy, who dominated the world of urban r&b in the ’90’s and early ’00’s using a sweet mix of youth and hip-hop, it’s been a tougher road to recovery. With a sex tape stalling the career of brother Ray J, a publicity stunt of a marriage and a fatal car accident cluttering the tabloids, Brandy hardly came out from under. Topping things off, Human wasn’t a career highlight. Brandy & Ray J: A Family Business – a family affair compilation – didn’t help matters. Luckily, a stint on Dancing With the Stars rescued her from oblivion and gave her something to dance about. Today, Brandy is looking for reinvention and with Two Eleven – her first new album in four years – she is hoping to seize a commercial comeback. Catch 50/50 since 2/11 happens to be her birthday and the day Whitney Houston died.

As her comeback solicits feverish fanfare, the disc is dressed with its share of disappointments. Almost none of the uptempos seem to appear flattering on her, except for the Mary J. Blige-ish opener, “Wildest Dream” – boosted by her smart melisma and a peppery grit. At times, “Let Me Go” and ‘Slower” feel like musical updates on her, but suddenly drown in predictability. Probably the biggest upset of them all remains “Put It Down,” where the sparse instrumentation, club bass and faux-tuba seems laughable on Brandy’s Auto-tune-enhanced vocal. Despite it’s also an uncomfortable Chris Brown duet, it’s a snarky tune that sounds like something Kelly Rowland would’ve pulled off after “Motivation,” except that the song lyrically lacks inspiration and Brandy doesn’t seem to believe herself when she brags that “even though he can buy that coupe for me/He gon’ have to work hard.”

Saving Two Eleven from being a total douche are the laidback ballads etched on the second half, particularly the Rico Love-contributed “Hardly Breathing,” where she shines with the occasional belting in the Fantasia fashion across retro urban beats. Another mentionable, the Frank Ocean/Warryn Campbell “Scared of Beautiful” sneaks in poetic smartness when it becomes eerily transparent. Halfway in, that edge suddenly becomes a bit whimsical when it recites Snow White rhymes as the Prince dub beats start to lose its synergy. “Wish Your Love Away” and “No Such Thing As Too Late” are decent B-side affairs that recall the midnight oil used on Beyonce’s 4.

Getting in the way of her progress is the album’s inability to bolster a serious main attraction. The cute somber ditties and Drake-ish slow jams (“So Sick,” “Hardly Breathing”) are probably what most of her fans are expecting to hear from her, but it isn’t the thrillers they could have been. Because of the overabundance of empty space, these tracks often drag themselves in blandness and seems completely evasive in its quest to create memorable r&b – a distant cry from the likeable playlist of her big hits like “Have You Ever?,” “I Wanna Be Down” and “Baby.” The only thing seriously working in her favor is the futuristic album cover, where Brandy dresses up as a reincarnate Aaliyah dressed in Aeon Flux gear.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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