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The Underrated: Bobby Brown- Don't Be Cruel

By @TrueGodImmortal

1. Cruel Prelude
2. Don't Be Cruel
3. My Prerogative
4. Roni
5. Rock Wit'cha
6. Every Little Step
7. I'll Be Good To You
8. Take It Slow
9. All Day All Night
10. I Really Love You Girl
11. Cruel Reprise

Now, there are some albums that get the justified credit. Thriller, Illmatic, Purple Rain, Reasonable Doubt, and various others get credited as some of the greatest albums of all-time in their respective genres or in general. Some albums get recognized, but not on the level they should be. When speaking of albums from the 1980s that really are my favorite, there are 5 that come to mind: Bad, Purple Rain, Sign O' The Times, Thriller, and Don't Be Cruel. Make no mistake, there are some other albums that I truly enjoy as well, but those 5 are my personal top 5 from the 80s.

Don't Be Cruel, released in July 1988, is a definite classic album and one of my all time favorites. It has sold 7 million copies in the US, solidifying its legacy as a monster album, and even was the highest selling album of 1989, but struggled on the charts the first 6 months of release. However, when classic albums and some of the greatest are discussed, this tends to get overlooked from time to time. For this album, Bobby would end up winning a Grammy, and was crowned the King of New Jack Swing.

Using the assistance of Babyface and LA Reid, Bobby instantly took on a smoother, much more straightforward style with this album, which yielded great results, of course. As the album kicks off, the booming title track hits, with the melodic grooves carrying the New Jack Swing-esque beat. Infectious and a party starter still to this day, the title track is a perfect way to start this album. The following track, "My Prerogative" keeps the energy high, with yet another dance inducing beat, full of New Jack Swing flare, as Bobby gives a middle finger to his critics with this song.

The pace slows up on my favorite song on the album, and my favorite Bobby Brown track period, "Roni". The melodic, slow smooth groove provided by Babyface and LA Reid(along with the lyrics and background vocals) allows for a heavenly song. Singing to the woman of his dreams seemingly, Bobby speaks to her and lets her know that she is the only one who has his heart. Keeping with that melodic and slow pace, Bobby follows up with the late night bedroom track "Rock Wit'Cha", another gem on this album. The song is underrated on this album, and it is in the top 3 songs on the album to me personally.

The huge single "Every Little Step" follows, and the song is so infectious. From the bridge to the verses and of course the hook, this song is Bobby at his best. Getting back into that classic New Jack Swing rhythm, "I'll Be Good To You" is yet another infectious track that definitely inspires a quick dance move or two. However, before getting too comfortable in the dancing mood, Bobby slows it down again with the aptly titled "Take It Slow", creating a great ballad. Bobby was never the best singer, but this song highlights one of his best vocal displays on the album. The melody, the lyrics, and even the background arrangements were great here.

As the album starts to wind down, we get yet another slower paced track, "All Day All Night", which is executed perfectly, beginning with a phone call skit between Bobby and his lady. The New Jack Swing influence on this album is strong and makes for a solid cohesiveness throughout the entire project. Bobby ends the album off with another infectious song in "I Really Love You Girl", that is carried by a sort of bouncy track, almost reminiscent of a classic Zapp track. The song is the perfect way to close out a flawless album.

Bobby struck gold with this album and created something timeless here. Using Babyface and LA Reid improve his sound and song quality tremendously, and Don't Be Cruel remains one of my all time favorite albums.


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