There's something special about nineties R&B and the memories it brings back. For every superstar, there are at least twenty singers who mainstream audiences often forget. Before releasing his debut album singer, Horace Brown was already making a name for himself in the industry. Brown began his career singing background vocals for Christopher Williams and writing for Terri & Monica. Initially, Brown planed on making his debut in 1994 following the positive fan response to his song "Taste Your Love."
A sexy midtempo cut produced by Dave "Jam" Hall "Taste Your Love" was an ode to oral sex that was seen as too risqué for some radio stations. This led to the song being banned and Horace's original debut shelved. Thankfully Andre Harrell saw the potential in Horace Brown and released his debut in the summer of 1996. Brown's official second single was "One for the Money," produced by Kevin Deane.
A great up-tempo track that was made for the clubs, "One for the Money that still slaps in 2021. Who can forget the smooth hook that Horace had in the song?”One for the money: "two for the show," "three to get the hunnies." The messages in "One for the Money" still holds up today. Timeless messages also carried over to Brown's next single, "Things We Do for Love," produced by DJ Eddie F. Brown croons about something we've all gone through, and don't get me started on the Clark Kent produced remix featuring a pre-fame Jay-Z.
The final single from Brown's debut was the Faith Evans duet "How Can We Stop," where the singer's voice comes off as buttery smooth to Stevie J. and Puff Daddy's production. The aforementioned producers also contribute to the up-tempo "I Want You Baby." While Brown shines with the up-tempo material, the album's highpoints as a ballad person are the slow cuts. Producer Chad Elliot provides Brown with a killer opener with "Why Why Why."
Producer Chad Elliot provides Brown with a killer opener with "Why Why Why." Big Bub provides the Isaac Hayes sampling "Trippin." A track that highlights not letting petty arguments ruin a relationship. Brown reunites with Dave "Jam" Hall for "I Like" and "Gotta Find a Way.” The former is a sexy slow cut, while the latter is a relatable cut about letting go of a bad relationship.
"Just Let Me Know" "is an honest ditty about a man willing to support his woman through whatever from the production duo The Characters. Jodeci member DeVante Swing provides Brown with "You Need a "Man." Brown sings the song just fine, but there was just something off for me personally with Swing's production. The track is my least favorite on the album.
Despite a strong voice and A1 production, Horace Brown's debut didn't do any damage on the charts. Horace Brown had the disadvantage of competing against Maxwell's debut, which was released in the spring, and Keith Sweat's self-titled fifth album, which hit stores the week after Brown. In my opinion, despite Motown's best efforts at promotion, Brown was lost in the shuffle.
Nevertheless, Brown continued on building a name for himself overseas with his live shows. On occasion, he will provide guest vocals to a track. Horace Brown's self-titled debut is a delicate mix of club and bedroom tracks that reminds us why we love nineties R&B.
Final Grade: B+
Top Tracks: "Why Why Why," "One for the Money," "Thing We Do For Love," and "Trippin"
Horace Brown is available on all streaming platforms.