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Afrodisiac
Studio album by Brandy
Released June 28, 2004 (2004-06-28)
Recorded 2003—2004
Criteria Hit Factory
(Miami, Florida),
Corner Store Studios
(Los Angeles, California),
Records Plant
(Los Angeles, California),
The Dungeon
(Atlanta, Georgia)
Genre R&B, pop, dance-pop
Length 61:18
Label Atlantic
Producer Brandy Norwood, Kyambo Joshua, Craig Kallman, Gee Roberson (exec.), Warryn Campbell, Big Chuck, Theron Feemster, Walter Millsap III, Organized Noise, Timbaland, Kanye West
Brandy chronology
Full Moon
(2002)
Afrodisiac
(2004)
The Best of Brandy
(2005)
Singles from Afrodisiac
  1. "Talk About Our Love"
    Released: 2004
  2. "Who Is She 2 U"
    Released: 2004
  3. "Afrodisiac"
    Released: 2004

Afrodisiac is the fourth studio album by American singer Brandy, released by Atlantic Records on June 28, 2004 on most international territories and on June 29, 2004 (see 2004 in music) in Canada and the United States. A departure from her previous work with Rodney Jerkins and his Darkchild camp, Brandy worked with Timbaland and his protégé Walter Millsap III on the majority of the production of the album, featuring additional credits by Warryn Campbell, Organized Noise, Theron Feemster, Big Chuck, and Kanye West.[1]

The album debuted at number three on the U.S. Billboard 200 but had a short run on the charts, resulting into medicore domestic sales of 416,000 copies and a gold certification by the RIAA.[2] Outside the States, Afrodisiac scored minor success, missing the top thirty on the majority of the charts it appeared on except China, Japan and Switzerland.[3] The critical response to Afrodisiac was generally positive, garnering Brandy her strongest reception yet, with AllMusic comparing it to "Janet Jackson at her best."[4] The following year, it received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Contemporary R&B Album but lost to Usher's Confessions album.[5]

While lead single "Talk About Our Love" reached the top ten in the United Kingdom, later singles failed to score successfully on the popular music charts.[6] In mid-2005, after eleven years with the company Brandy asked for and received a release from Atlantic Records, making Afrodisiac her last regular album on the label.[2]

Contents

Conception and production

Following the birth to her daughter Sy'rai in June 2002, Brandy soon entered recording studios to insensify work on her then-untitled fourth album with producer Mike City and companion Robert "Big Bert" Smith.[7] As the singer envisioned the longplayer to sound "much rawer" and more "street" than its 2002 predecessor Full Moon, Smith quckily emerged as the album's executive producer and A&R, replacing longtime contributor and mentor Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, who Brandy felt was not going in the same direction creatively after all.[8] About parting ways with Jerkins whose Darkchild team took production credits on her last two albums, Brandy commented in Vibe: "Darkchild created a sound with me and gave it to everybody. I didn't like that [...] I needed to change my sound and I wanted to explore my versatility, my creativity and my art."[9][10] The couple eventually finished a number of demo recordings and at least four full songs until late November 2002, including "Ryde or Die" and Sy'rai-inspired "Sunshine;"[11] and although Smith expected the album to drop by spring 2003 at one time or another,[8] Brandy and Big Bert ended their relationship in mid-2003, resulting into the album's delay and several personnel changes.[12][13]

Norwood eventually decided to scrap most of the project, and instead enlisted Timbaland, with whom the couple had previously worked on Kiley Dean's unreleased Simple Girl album, as the album's main contributor.[14] Impressed by Timaland's input, Brandy rediscovered the musical affection, she had missed on Full Moon and its technical priority. "I made the change because I needed to evolve. I needed to explore my talent and versatility and see if I had another side to me, another sound," she said about collaborating. "I wanted to do my own thing, and I've always wanted to work with Timbaland [...] and see how my voice would sound over his tracks. It was an edgier Brandy, a sassier sound, but still with a lot of heart and a lot of passion."[9][15] With the help of Timbaland protégés such as Candice Nelson, Steve "Static" Garrett, and co-producer Walter Millsap III the pair worked on what was tentatively titled B-Rocka — a nickname actually given to her by Jerkins — and originally planned for a Christmas 2003 release.[12] Their first collaboration, 1990s tribute "Turn It Up", was leaked onto the internet in autumn 2003, and soon released as a promotional buzz track.[16]

Having concluded additional recording sessions with Warryn Campbell, Theron Feemster and Organized Noise, Atlantic Records announced in November 2003 that Brandy was putting the finishing touches on her still-untitled album, at that time scheduled for a release on March 2, 2004,[17] and she would shoot a music video for the "hyper, bass-heavy" banger "Black Pepper" during the second week of December.[18] However, plans for the single fell through as the Timbaland-produced track was scrapped in favor of a new record: "Talk About Our Love," produced by rapper Kanye West. Both, the single and album cut "Where You Wanna Be," were eleventh-hour additions to the album, commissioned by West's manager Geroid Roberson, one of the executive producers on Afrodisiac, who encouraged Brandy to attempt further studio sessions with West.[16] "Kanye put the finishing touches on the record," Brandy commented o her decision to work with West. "The two tracks we did were just what I needed to tie the whole thing together."[15]

Music

Content

"On Afrodisiac, you really get to know me as a person and I'm not sugarcoating any of the lyrics. My fans will be able to connect to it because they'll know exactly what I've been through."[13]

Brandy on Afrodisiac.

As with her previous albums thematical prime focus on Afrodisiac is on love and all its kind. "It's about passion. It's romantic, and that's where I am in my life right now," Brandy noted during promotion touring in 2004, a time when she was engaged to New York Knicks guard Quentin Richardson.[15] "I'm not trying to be edgy, sassy, romantic, vulnerable or whatever emotions come across," she said. "I really am all that."[19] Afrodisiac contains several references to Timbaland and longtime partner Missy Elliott, and alludes to fellow 1990s R&B singers such as Aaliyah and Monica.[9] The album's opening track "Who I Am" discusses her rocky relationship with Robert Smith as well as the progression of her public image, while "I Tried" was heavily inspired by English rock band Coldplay, also incorporating lyrics of their 2000 song "Sparks."[9] The tenth track "Turn It Up" is an homage to the early 1990s with references to Donnie Simpson's Video Soul, Kid n' Play, their 1990 film House Party and Tony! Toni! Toné!'s 1996 studio album House of Music.[9] The line "'Cause I don't wanna sound familiar, want a guaranteed single, not an album filler" levels indirect criticism at former main producer Rodney Jerkins.[12] On ending track "Should I Go," which samples Coldplay's "Clocks," Brandy openly talks about contemplating stepping away from the music business, admitting that she's trying to figure out where she fits in today.[9]

Although Norwood received a sole writing credit on album cut "Finally" only, she noted Afrodisiac the most honest effort of her career yet based on its deeply autobiographical content, commenting: "Everything I do has something to do with what I've gone through in my life [and] I definitely wanted to incorporate that in my art. It makes it more real when you add what's been going on in your life in your music. I've grown and I've gone through some things in my life, and I celebrate that, I honor that."[15] [20] Soundwise, her collaboration with Timbaland, recent motherhood, life experiences, and growing affinity toward alternative music such as Coldplay, caused Brandy to shift toward a more matured outlook and raw nature with the album, a venture into the organic sounds of soul blues and the nostalgic street-wise sound of 1990’s hip-hop.[21]

Tracks

Opening track "Who I Am," the album's only contribution by Warryn "Baby Dubb" Campbell, was an eleventh-hour addition to the album's final track listing.[22] Built around a pirouetting keyboard melody, the song discusses Norwood's rocky relationship with producer Robert "Big Bert" Smith as well as her public image in open letter form.[23] Second track "Afrodisiac," the album's title track and second international single, was generally well-received by critics, and enjoyed moderate success throughout Asia and Europe.[24] Depicting a woman's aphrodisiac affection with a man, it combines elements of pop and dance music, incorporating elements of fellow Timbaland-production "Are You That Somebody?" as performed by Aaliyah.[25] Brandy has declared the song her favorite cut on the record.[25] Alongside "Afrodisiac," third track "Who Is She 2 U" was one of the first songs Brandy worked on with Timbaland and his crew. A female anthem with semi-biographical background, it was released to mixed recepction as the album's second single stateside, where it became one of Brandy's lowest-charting singles yet.[26] An inofficial but prominent duet version of the track featuring vocals by fellow R&B singer Usher was released on various mixtapes in late 2004.[27]

Lead single "Talk About Our Love," the result of additional recording sessions with rapper Kanye West and violinist Miri Ben-Ari, was not composed until late into the production of the album and describes the pressures of other people meddling into relationships.[28] Received to rave reviews, the song garnered medicore success around the globe, reaching the top ten of the UK Singles Chart and the Billboard sales charts.[29] Iron Maiden-sampling "I Tried" is a downbeat midtempo track and ode to British alternative rock band Coldplay. It talks about the singer listening to Coldplay's song "Sparks" as she regrets playing the fool for an unfaithful ex lover.[18] Considered to be released as a single at times, it drew comparisons to Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River" in style and music.[23] "Where You Wanna Be," another West production, features a bridge by rapper T.I. and deals with a woman's lover not getting his priorities in order as she is requesting him to make a decision between his friends, his affair and her.[30] Brandy chronicles her ups and downs on mid-tempo track "Focus," the album's seventh track, on which she struggles not to let an old habit back in her life.[30] The songs consists of stuttering synths and instrumentation from heavy bass and an electric guitar.[18] Eight track "Saddidy" is built around a hand-clap-laden synth beat and one of the few up-tempo tracks on the album. It talks about the singer not being seddity rather than menacing.[30]

Release and reception

Critical reception

 Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[4]
Blender 3/5 stars[31]
Entertainment Weekly (A-)[32]
People 4/5 stars[33]
PopMatters (favorable)[34]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[35]
Slant 4/5 stars[36]
Stylus (B-)[37]
USA Today 3/4 stars[38]
Vibe 3.5/5 stars[18]

Afrodisiac garnered Brandy her fourth consecutive Grammy Award nomination for Best Contemporary R&B Album and became her most critically acclaimed album to date, averaging a 73 out of a 100 among averaged reviews on Metacritic.[39] Andy Kellman of Allmusic gave the album four out of five stars and praised it as "Brandy's fourth consecutive durable showing, [...] stocked with a number of spectacular — and emotionally resonant — singles that wind up making for her most accomplished set yet."[4] David Browne of Entertainment Weekly gave the album an A- rating, calling it "Brandy's meatiest album to date," and ranked it sixth on his personal year-end top ten list.[40] He found special approval for Timbaland, "who produced most of the disc, turns up the bass, the volume, and the tension whenever he can, bolstering her less-than-commanding, down-pillow-soft voice."[32] Rolling Stone writer James Hunter, like both Kellman and Browne, compared the album to "Janet Jackson at her best: She's a pop star, but she's making the most of her big studio budgets and is following her muse." He described the set as "mainstream soul with eccentric details and shadings" and gave the album four stars out of five.[35]

Vibe writer Laura Checkoway noted Afrodisiac "a far cry from the pleasing pubescent fluff of her formative years," and although she felt that "Brandy's sultry alto drowns on some songs," she acknowledged, that "while Brandy's musical liaison with Timbaland is what some people might call a match made in heaven, it's her crazy, sexy, cool revival that's the true bliss of this fourth coming.[18] Steve Jones from USA Today gave the album a three out of four stars rating, and commented: "Timbaland provides her with plenty of funk-infused beats to groove to [and] while a few of the tracks are a bit pedestrian, Brandy is still seductive more often that not."[38] Ben Sisario, who wrote for Blender and gave the album three out of five stars, summed the album as "an episode of her growing-pains TV show Moesha: This week, our honey-voiced heroine sheds her girlishness, sexing up to become 'a woman, a passionate woman'," referring to its lyrical makeover.[31] He called non-Timbaland productions like "Talk About Our Love" and "Say You Will" the highlights of the album.[31]

Chart performance

Afrodisiac debuted at number three on the U.S. Billboard 200 and at number four on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop albums chart, selling more than 131,700 copies in its first week.[41] Though sales soon declined and the album fell off the top one hundred of the Billboard 200 quickly in its eighth week, the album eventually received a Gold certification for more than 500,000 copies shipped to stores, but eventually selling 417,000 copies.[42]

Though "I Tried" was considered to be released as a single at times,[43] Afrodisiac spawned three singles only: The album's lead single, "Talk About Our Love", became Norwood's fifth non-consecutive top ten hit on the UK Singles Chart, but barely made it to top thirty elsewhere; in the United States, however, the song peaked at number 16 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The second single in Eurasia and Australia, "Afrodisiac", saw similar success but reached the top 10 in China; it also became a top 40 success in Australia, France, Ireland, Switzerland, and the UK. The second North American single was "Who Is She 2 U" but due to a lack of radio airplay the song never made it out of the lower half of the Billboard Hot 100. In March 2005, the single also received limited release in Europe to promote the release of Brandy's first single collection, The Best of Brandy; but it failed to chart or sell noticeably.

Promotion

Promotion for Afrodisiac first began with a massive media event in Montego Bay, Jamaica, where the album was previewed to a hand-picked list of journalists at a press launch held in the Royal Pavillion of the Half Moon Hotel.[44] Promotional touring for the album started on May 23, 2004 with a series major national television appearances, highlighted by performances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on July 13, 2004; NBC's Today show as part of their outdoor Toyota Concert Series on July 16, 2004 and ABC's The View on July 19, 2004.[33] Norwood also performed on both CBS's The Late Late Show and the syndicated On-Air with Ryan Seacrest on July 14, 2004.[33] Outside the United States, Norwood made appearances on Top of The Pops and Anke Late Night, where she performed a rendition of Whitney Houston's "One Moment in Time" in the form of a coffee commercial.[45]

Addtionally, Brandy was seen in a host of special programming airing on music television networks BET, MTV, VH1, and Fuse. The album's arrival in stores was celebrated with an appearance as a presenter on the 2004 BET Awards, preceded by a special live performance on 106 & Park.[33] On July 1, 2004, Norwood headed to New York for appearances on MTV's TRL and Fuse's Daily Download. In addition, tracks from Afrodisiac were streamed over one million times via MTV.com's The Leak in the week preceding the album's release.[33]

Online, Brandy was introduced as the LAUNCHcast Artist of the Month for July 2004. The promotion included exclusive interviews and performances as well as contests to win live video chats with Norwood.[33] The "Talk About Our Love" online campaign kicked off with an AOL First Listen premiere, and Brandy was AOL's "Artist of the Month" for June 2004. Her Sessions@AOL performance debuted on the service in July 2004.[33]

Track listing

# Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Who I Am"   Warryn Campbell, Joi Campbell Warryn "Baby Dubb" Campbell 3:35
2. "Afrodisiac"   Kenisha Pratt, Kenneth Pratt, Isaac Phillip, Tim Mosley Timbaland 3:47
3. "Who Is She 2 U"   Walter Millsap III, Candice Nelson, T. Mosley, Leon Ware, Jacqueline Hilliard Timbaland 4:43
4. "Talk About Our Love " (featuring Kanye West) Kanye West, Harold Lilly, Carlos Wilson, Louis Wilson, Ricardo A. Wilson, Claude Cave II Kanye West 3:34
5. "I Tried"   W. Millsap III, C. Nelson, T. Mosley, Will Champion, Steve Harris, Chris Martin, Guy Berryman, Johnny Buckland Timbaland 4:45
6. "Where You Wanna Be" (featuring T.I.) K. West, H. Lilly Kanye West 4:07
7. "Focus"   W. Millsap III, C. Nelson, I. Phillip, T. Mosley Timbaland 4:07
8. "Sadiddy"   K. Pratt, K. Pratt, T. Mosley Timbaland 4:00
9. "Turn It Up"   W. Millsap III, C. Nelson, T. Mosley Timbaland 4:13
10. "Necessary"   Rico Wade, Patrick Brown, Ray Murray, Cee-Lo Green Organized Noise 3:59
11. "Say You Will"   Theron Feemster Ron "NEFF-U" Feemstar, Big Chuck 3:50
12. "Come As You Are"   Steve "Static" Garrett, T. Mosley Timbaland 3:44
13. "Finally"   W. Millsap III, C. Nelson, T. Mosley, Brandy Norwood, Hans Zimmer, Nick Glennie-Smith, S. Stern, Darryl Harper Timbaland 3:53
14. "Should I Go"   W. Millsap III, C. Nelson, G. Berryman, J. Buckland, W. Champion, C. Martin, T. Mosley Timbaland 4:56
  • Notes
    • "Who Is She 2 U" contains a sample of Jacqueline Hilliard's "Instant Love" (1968)
    • "Talk About Our Love" contains a sample of Mandrill's "Gilly Hines" (1978) from the album New Worlds
    • "I Tried" contains a sample of Iron Maiden's "The Clansman" (1998), and Coldplay's "Sparks" (2000)
    • "Where You Wanna Be" contains a sample of Janis Ian's "Jesse" (1974)
    • "Finally" contains a sample of "Rock House Jail" from The Rock soundtrack (1996)
    • "Should I Go" contains a sample of Coldplay's "Clocks" (2002)
    • "Nodding Off" contains a sample of Sunny Deol & Amrita Singh's "Ek Din Jab Hum Jawaan Hongay" (1983)

Charts and certification

  • These are the peak positions and certifications from chart providers.
Chart (2004) Provider Peak
position
Certification
Australian ARIA Album Chart ARIA 53
Canada Top 50 Albums[46] CRIA/Nielsen SoundScan 34
Chinese Albums Chart[46] IFPI 9
Dutch Albums Chart[3] MegaCharts 45
French Albums Chart[3] SNEP/IFOP 57
German Albums Chart[3] Media Control 44
Japan Orican Album Chart RIAJ 10 Gold
Norwegian Albums Chart[3] VG Nett 34
Swedish Albums Chart[3] GLF 45
Swiss Albums Chart[3] Media Control 26
UK Albums Chart[3] BPI/The Official UK Charts Company 32 Silver
U.S. Billboard 200[3] Billboard 3 Gold
U.S. Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 4

Credits and personnel

  • Miri Ben-Ari — violin
  • Shorty B. — bass guitar
  • Parris Bowens — keyboards
  • Bruce Fowler — conductor
  • Larry Gold — conductor
  • Don Harper — conductor
  • Mike Hartnett — guitar
  • Keenan "Kee Note" Holloway — bass
  • Glenn S. Jeffrey — guitar
  • George "Spanky" McCurdy - percussion
  • Nick Glennie-Smith — conductor
  • DeMonica Plummer — conductor
  • Ervin Pope — keyboards
  • Dave Robbins - keyboards
  • Thaddeus T. Tribbett — bass
  • Eric Walls — guitar

Production

  • Executive producers: Kyambo Joshua, Craig Kallman, Brandy Norwood, Gee Roberson
  • Vocal producers: Brandy Norwood, Kenny Hicks
  • Vocal assistance: Jo Ann Campbell, Steve "Static" Garrett, Tim Mosley, Kenisha Pratt, Kenneth Pratt
  • Engineers: Bruce Beuchner, Sean Davis, Jimmy Douglas, Blake English, Jun Ishizeki, Cha Cha Jones, Eugene Toale
  • Assistant engineers: Demacio Castellon, Ricky Chao, Jermeal Hicks, Halsey Quemere
  • Mixing: Jimmy Douglass, Dave Lopez, Manny Marroquin, Peter Mokran, Tim "Timbaland" Mosley
  • Mastering: Brian Gardner, Chris Gehringer
  • A&R: Kyambo Joshua & Geroid Roberson
  • Design: Julian Peploe
  • Art Direction: Liz Barrett
  • Photography: Roger Ericson

References

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  41. ^ Joe D'Angelo. Brandy Settles for #3. MTV.com. Retrieved on July 5, 2004.
  42. ^ Brandy To Release Greatest Hits Album. Yahoo.com. Retrieved on March 30, 2005.
  43. ^ "Brandy Sings About Coldplay On Her Upcoming Album". Yahoo! Music. October 20, 2003. Retrieved in January 18, 2007.
  44. ^ Housen, Claudine (2004-04-23). "Brandy Previews Album At Half-Moon". Jamaica Gleaner. http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20040423/ent/ent3.html. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  45. ^ "Brandy - Live @ Anke Late Night ("One Moment In Time")". SAT.1. 2005-12-20. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ys8QXhnY1xk&feature=related. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  46. ^ a b "Afrodisiac Chart History". Top40-Charts.com. http://top40-charts.com/songs/full.php?sid=10834&sort=chartid. Retrieved 2008-02-04. 

External links


Simple English

Afrodisiac is the fourth studio album by American R&B/pop singer Brandy, released by Atlantic Records on June 28, 2004 outside North America and on June 29, 2004 (see 2004 in music) in Canada and the United States. It was mostly produced by Timbaland, with more production from Warryn Campbell, Organized Noise, Walter Millsap, Ron Feemster, Big Chuck, and Kanye West. A lot of critics liked the album, but it did not sell a lot of copies. It has sold less copies than any other album she has made so far.








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