Introducing B Rocka: How Brandy Became Hip-Hop and R&B's New Muse


by Njera Perkins

Brandy’s first single rose to the top of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart, but it was the addition of three emcees on the remix that transformed the track into one of the most memorable anthems of the 90s. “I Wanna Be Down (Remix)” proved to be a prime example of unity bringing together female powerhouses, but also the perfect balance of Hip-Hop and Soul.

Along with her peers Monica, Mary J. Blige, Mya, and Aaliyah, Brandy helped successfully mesh together two genres that previously seemed separate. But it was one of Brandy’s defining trademarks, her low yet airy pitch, which allowed her to differentiate herself the rest. Four years after releasing her self-titled debut album, Brandy would return with Never Say Never, an album whose themes created some of her most powerful music. Songs like “Have You Ever” and “Angel in Disguise” gave life to feeling of love and longing, while “The Boy is Mine” managed to make listeners groove to a song about dishonesty and jealousy in a way that only Brandy and Monica could. Much like soul singers before her, Brandy set out to create music that encapsulated everything she was experiencing from unrequited love and heartbreak to pure infatuation.

The mature offering that was Never Say Never showed Brandy’s growth as an artist also while adding a new flavor to her sound – which can be credited to none other than super producer Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins. But it was Full Moon that presented a redefined Brandy four years after her last album. The intro song “B-Rocka” ushered in her alter ego that would position Hip-Hop next to R&B for the remaining 15 tracks. Songs like “What About Us,” “I Thought,” and “Full Moon” manifested as radio-ready singles that fused soul singing over drum and heavy beats, music reminiscent of the early Hip-Hop sounds of drum machines and synthesizers. “Nothing” and “It’s Not Worth It” were full of pure passion and gave listeners melodic tracks to swoon over. Full Moon asserted the strength of Brandy’s original sound and its staying power.

Fans watched Brandy mature from a young teenager into an adult woman, and as she grew her sound grew along with her. Fusing Hip-Hop and Soul together, Brandy refined a sound that would help inspire a new generation of artists to follow. And over the course of a career that includes television shows, movies, dolls and music her sound has transcended expectations and cemented her place as one of the most influential music icons of her time.