Every week, a different FADER editor compiles a playlist to highlight a new release and give you a guide to that artist’s web of influences and peers. These Staff Selects live in our Spotify app, alongside GEN Fs from our archives and playlists for each issue. Today, it’s Naomi Zeichner on Brandy’s new album and tough R&B.
Brandy, the church singer turned mega-selling sitcom actress turned Dancing With the Stars contestant, is currently at the crest of a musical comeback. Her light-on-its-feet new album, Two Eleven, named after February 11th, the day of her own birth and mentor Whitney Houston’s death, debuted at number three on the US charts and produced a top ten single in “Put it Down,” Brandy’s first song to perform as well in a decade. “Put It Down” was produced by Bangladesh and Sean Garrett, Brandy’s main collaborators on the record, which also features R&B newcomers Mike Will Made It and Switch, guys who made their names with rap hits like “Bands a Make Her Dance” and hyperspeed, experimental beats for M.I.A. and Major Lazer, respectively. Here’s a look at songs that pair R&B writers and producers like Garrett and Dawn Richard with rap innovators like Bagladesh, Will, Zaytoven and Polow da Don. Garrett wasn’t the first guy to make crisp, mid-tempo R&B ballads that comfortably incorporate the space and knock of rap production, but he’s been an unsung proponent of it and had a hand in many of these songs, like the blinking piano line of Diddy Dirty Money’s “Loving You No More” and the happy, marching band cheese of Kelly Rowland’s “Like This.” There’s also a pair of moody tracks written and produced by Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins for Brandy’s 2002 album Full Moon, which holds up really well.
Stream: R&B Production’s Rap Turn