What Happened To Brandy’s ‘Two Eleven’ Album?

BRANDY-TWO-ELEVEN-ALBUM-COVER

We all know the process: a music Diva stakes her claim on a fiscal quarter of the year, which spawns a spectacle of unique marketing tactics, promotional tours and, inevitably, “the Stan wars,” all culminating in the successful release of a much-anticipated album. It happens year after year and last year was almost no different for R&B veteran Brandy Norwood’s sixth studio album, “Two Eleven.” So, what happened?

After the poor commercial success of her fifth studio album, “Human” (2008), and her somewhat abrupt departure from record label, Epic Records, shortly afterwards, Brandy seemed to be seeking a place of belonging in the ever-changing music industry she’d once had wrapped around her finger. It appeared as though the industry had become as nonchalant with Brandy as it had become with the existence of the R&B genre, in general.

While on a mission to maintain her spot as one of R&B’s most notable and cherished voices in the years to follow, Brandy steered her focus toward her growth as an artist and a businesswoman. Moving forward with a new record label and starting a new album seemed like a fresh start for the songstress…and it was.

With a four-year hiatus since “Human,” a legion of loyal fans awaiting her return and new-found attention garnered through social media exposing her unparalleled talent to new fans, Brandy appeared poised for a powerful comeback. However, one of the major exceptions in the formula of commercial success for Brandy’s “Two Eleven,” was one of the most damaging factors for the debut of any artist’s album: an extremely promoted, yet prolonged release.

Brandy - Two Eleven Promo

Murmurings of what was to eventually become “Two Eleven,” began in late 2011 on the heels of producer Sean Garrett’s eagerness to spill the beans to Rap-Up.com about production work he had done on the project’s first single:

“What I can tell you is that it’s hot. It’s definitely something you have never heard—you probably haven’t heard Brandy over a track like this. It’s very commercial, but at the same time, it’s got a dope hip-hop influence—it’s club, it’s radio, it’s all formats. . . . [I]t’s coming really soon. I’d probably say before Christmas. . . . [Y]eah, I think she said her album is coming around April.”

This information immediately sent die-hard Brandy fans, or ‘Stars’ as she endearingly calls them, into overdrive. ‘Stars’ took to the Internet to express their excitement and aggressively began campaigning for the return of their queen. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr–Brandy was returning and she was EVERYWHERE. Then came the push backs.

A running joke on Twitter became that Brandy’s promotional tour for the album had spanned all four seasons of 2012 which, in retrospect, wasn’t far from fact. Garrett’s initial revelation (in November of 2011) about the single and the month of the album release turned out to be incorrect.

“Two Eleven” was officially scheduled for a March 2012 release instead of April, which was good news. That was until the single’s release date was pushed back to accommodate the release of fellow R&B Diva Monica’s duet with Brandy, “It All Belongs To Me,” for her own album.

As a result, the album was also pushed back making the wait for any new solo music (let alone “Two Eleven”) even longer. The disappointment was short-lived, when the album was given a new official release date of May 2012. Fans rejoiced until Brandy announced, in March, that the album would now be coming June 2012.

To hold fans over, the album’s first single, “Put It Down” (featuring Chris Brown), made its debut on May 4, 2012. Merely a distraction for coming delays, the release date for the album was then changed to August 28, with the specification of an actual date providing impatient fans with a glimpse of hope. As if the fans weren’t being tortured enough, hope was shattered when the release was pushed back a little over a month to October 2, then one more time to October 16.

Met by rave reviews from fans and critics alike upon its official release, Brandy had hit a home run. The album was a masterpiece, but record sales told a different story. Coming in with a number 3 debut on the US Billboard 200 and first week sales of only 65,000 copies brought about confusion. With so much hype surrounding the album, one would’ve thought that sales would’ve been an outstanding, but the masses lost interest in purchasing something they’d been teased with for practically a year.

In April 2013, Brandy told Pynk Magazine that in spite of her album only selling a staggering 178,613 copies since is October 2012 release, she wouldn’t let numbers define her, stating boldly, “I define me.” It is no surprise, however, that “Two Eleven” continues to do poorly by industry standards based on the lack of promotion on the back-end of its release.

Though Brandy continued to promote the album with performances across the country after its debut, the follow-up single fell short of mainstream radio play and was accompanied by a lackluster visual. In addition, no more singles have been released from the album to date.

Conceptually, “Two Eleven” had all the makings of a classic–and in many ways it still is. The less than desirable sales don’t at all mean that fans aren’t willing to pay for Brandy’s music or that they don’t want to hear more from her in the future. What it does mean, as far as “Two Eleven” goes, is simply that it was too little, too late. That’s what happened.

J. Williams is a Contributor for Rated RnB. For more info about J. Williams, visit http://jwilliams.TV.

4 Comments

  1. This was very well written. Main idea, supported facts and a cool closing statement. Good job j. Williams. And u remained unbias

  2. pity for brandy they should promoted her after the release of her album they should pick another hot single like so sick no such thing as too late they repeated the same mistake thet done on her album human by not releasing piana not as a single

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4 Songs from Mariah Carey’s ‘E=MC²’ That Should Have Been Number One

Ten years ago, Mariah Carey’s faithful Lambs across the world were pulling out their TI-89 calculators to solve the equation E=MC², the title of her 11th studio album.

The album came three years after The Emancipation of Mimi, Carey’s comeback album and the best-selling album of 2005. The legendary diva won many awards for her 10th studio album, including three Grammy Awards. The accolades that probably meant the most to Carey were her two number one singles: “We Belong Together” and “Don’t Forget About Us.”

The latter tune helped Carey bag her 17th Hot 100 chart-topper, tying her with Elvis Presley for the most number one singles by a solo artist. She beat the rock and roll king’s record two months before the release of E=MC² with her sexually fantasizing single “Touch My Body.”

Speaking to the Associated Press in 2008, Carey praised herself for surpassing Presley.”For me, in my mind the accomplishment is just that much sweeter,” she said. “In terms of my ethnicity, always feeling like an outsider, always feeling different … for me it’s about saying, ‘Thank you Lord, for giving me the faith to believe in myself when other people had written me off.'”

What’s baffling though is that following the commercial success of “Body,” the five-octave Chanteuse pumped out three more singles (“Bye Bye,” “I’ll Be Lovin’ U Long Time,” and “I Stay in Love”) but none were fortunate enough to be inducted into Carey’s hall of fame of No. 1’s.

Yes, an artist’s name alone isn’t enough to sell a single. Without backing from radio stations and proper promotion, the chances of a single swimming versus sinking are slimmer than Carey’s ‘90s waistline.

But in all fairness: Carey’s E=MC² album potentially had the right formula to equate her 19th number-one single on the Hot 100 and continue her reign as the undisputed queen of the No. 1’s.

Now as we playback E=MC² (and mimic her iconic finger twinkle) on its 10th anniversary, here are four songs that should have topped the Hot 100.

1. “I’m that Chick”

Credits: Mariah Carey / Johnta Austin / Mikkel Storleer Eriksen / Tor Erik Hermansen / Rod Temperton (Writers); Carey and Stargate (Producers)

Who’s to blame for Carey’s dreamy number, “I’m That Chick” not being worked as a single and skating to the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100?

Revisiting the disco era and Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall,” the confident singer tiptoed on the dance floor to enjoy nightlife. Like Usher, Carey found love in the club and used some of the best metaphors to let him know she is everything and more. She also referenced two hip-hop legends Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G. to get her point across.

“Take this seriously / Like Pac, all eyes on me / That’s right you are intrigued (I’m that chick you like),” she sings lightly. “I do’s it naturally / Hypnotize like Biggie / But you ain’t havin’ dreams / I’m that chick you like.”

“I’m That Chick” had just the right amount of attitude to dance its way to number one.

2. “I’ll Be Lovin’ U Long Time”

Credits: Mariah Carey / Aldrin Davis / Mark DeBarge / Crystal Johnson / Etterlene Jordan (Writers); Carey and DJ Toomp (Producers)

It goes without saying that Carey’s flirty single “I’ll Be Lovin’ U Long Time” was shamefully robbed from basking in number one glory — and this was long before T.I. was enlisted for the remix.

Borrowing remnants of DeBarge’s “Stay With Me” for the hook and playful production, the jaunty love song heard Carey reassuring her then-husband Nick Cannon that it’s not a game and she’s here to stay.

From its timely release just ahead of summer to its proper video treatment and catchy lyrics, the cutesy tune had many qualifications to become a hit on the Hot 100. However, DJ Toomp co-produced ditty didn’t get close the top slot. It only reached No. 58.

3. “For the Record”

Credits: Mariah Carey / Bryan-Michael Cox / Adonis Shropshire (Writers); Carey and Cox (Producers)

Tell me one good reason “For the Record” wasn’t released as a single?

Bridging the sounds of a beautiful violin and a meek keyboard, Carey wanted to rewrite history with a former mate who foolishly let her go. Even though he’s moved on, she decided to let his mistake of leaving her sink in more by reminding him of how far her love went for him.

“For the record / You’ll always be a part of me, no matter what you do / And for the record / Can’t nobody say I didn’t give my all to you,” she sang.

As history shows, the New York native has an impressive track record with slow to mid-tempo songs (“Dreamlover,” “Always Be My Baby” and “Don’t Forget About Us”) leading the Hot 100. “For the Record” would have been in good company — just saying.

4. “Side Effects” featuring Jeezy

Credits: Mariah Carey / Jay Jenkins / Crystal Johnson / Scott Storch (Writers); Carey and Storch (Producers)

Carey has been fully capable rocketing herself to the top slot of the Hot 100 without any guest appearances. Out of her 18 number-one singles, she has 13 without a featured artist(s). But for her E=MC² era, we’re sure Mimi’s Lambs wouldn’t have minded her calling on hip-hop’s Snowman to release their blazing collaboration.

Blended with a knocking beat and techno effects, Carey had taken her final dose of torture from her unruly lover. Although she finished her prescribed bottle of heartache and pain, she still had to deal with the aftermath of the dissolved love affair.

“I kept my tears inside ’cause I knew if I / Started I’d keep cryin’ for the rest of my / Life with you I finally built up the strength / To walk away don’t regret it / But I still live with the side effects,” she sings.

10 Underrated Songs by Keyshia Cole

In February, we launched our new monthly feature, Underrated, with R&B legend Toni Braxton and her notable album gems as our primary focus. This time around, we are putting the spotlight on singer-songwriter Keyshia Cole, who is now a certified R&B vet.

The Oakland, Calif. native introduced herself to listeners in 2004 with her expressive voice and relatable narrative on the troubling tales of love and life. Now, seven albums into her decade-long career, the Grammy-nominated artist has a discography that has a few celebrated hits but an abundance of material that hasn’t gotten its rightful respect.

Take a look at our list of Cole’s 10 most slept-on records. We even share a love lesson or two about some of these records. (Sidenote: This list of songs does not include material from her Point of No Return album or her latest album 11:11 Reset, which she plans to repackage with three new songs.)

1. “Love, I Thought You Had My Back” from the album The Way It Is (2005)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Randolph Murph, Ralph Eskridge, Clarence Johnson Jr, Frederick Taylor (Writers); Ron Fair and Toxic (Producers)

For an artist who sings directly from their soul, being pitch perfect doesn’t normally matter. Keyshia Cole proved this on fan-favorite and one of her best post-breakup anthems “Love, Thought You Had My Back.”

Sampling “Love Jones” by Brighter Side of Darkness, Keyshia finds herself interrogating love for not holding up its end of the bargain after her latest love-affair blew up in flames.

Now that the relationship has ended, Keyshia offers a word of advice to listeners who still believe in a happily-ever-afters. “You gotta know your focus in life / And if love is your focus /Then man pay attention,” she says.

2. “We Could Be” from the album The Way It Is (2005)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Errol “Poppi” McCalla Jr. (Writers); Errol “Poppi” McCalla Jr., Ron Flair (Producers)

Have you ever wanted to take a friendship to the next level with someone? Keyshia found herself sharing those same feelings on this silky track off her debut album.

Over a slow-burning instrumental, and singing with unfledged vocals, Keyshia pictures a perfect life with a friend she wants to pursue a deeper connection with.

“If you’d be cool with me / You’ll see, that I’m all you need and all that you dream / And never would leave, you’ll be by my side forever / Swear to God we’ll grow old together, then reality would be you and me,” she sings.

3. “Fallin Out” from the album Just Like You (2007)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Soulshock, K. Karlin, Tammie L. Harris (Writers); Soulshock and Karlin (Producers)

After sharing the spotlight with some of hip-hop’s OG’s (Missy Elliott, Lil’ Kim and Too $hort) on the first two tracks of Just Like You, Keyshia takes on “Fallin’ Out” by herself and unleashes a bottle of emotions on the way things used to be with her lover.

Starting off with dramatic strings, and a sizzling sound effect, the R&B veteran dwindles out of love with a man who isn’t who she first fell in love with. “I remember when, I’d be with my friends / You checked on me and made time to call / But how things have changed? — now I don’t hear from you at all,” she sings.

Many critics have deeded Keyshia Cole’s Just Like You album a daughter to Mary J Blige’s personal My Life album. This opinion holds some weight as “Fallin’ Out” slightly mirrors Rose Royce’s “I’m Goin’ Down,” which was made popular in the ‘90s by Blige. Keyshia’s song, however, takes a far deeper lyrical approach than Blige’s bluesy rendition.

4. “Give Me More” from the album Just Like You (2007)

Credits: Keyshia Cole and Scott Storch (Writers); Scott Storch (Producer)

Come through, drums! With producer Scott Storch still blazing, Keyshia called on him to bring the bass and co-pen this mid-tempo banger.

On the retro track, Keyshia thought she found someone special, but she was sadly mistaken when he started playing games with her heart. After experiencing a breakup, she requires a little “more” from her next man.

“Give Me More” allows Storch to put his musicianship on display as he lets loose with an electric guitar towards the end of the track.

5. “Erotic” from the album A Different Me (2008)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Ron Fair, Theron Feemster (Writers); “THE-RON” Feemster (Additional Production by Ron Fair) (Producer)

Following the multiple Grammy nominations for her Just Like You album, Keyshia decided to make a drastic artistic shift, leaning more towards a universal sound for her follow-up, A Different Me.

Backed by an eerie sci-fi production, “Erotic” begins with a weird message from an unidentified life form. Don’t press skip though. Keyshia owns her experimental journey, as she shifts vocally like a five-speed sports car in-between the lanes of the futuristic beat.

6. “This is Us” from the album A Different Me (2008)

Credits: E. Bogart, V. Horn, J.T. Miller (Writers); Ron Fair and Jason T. Miller (Producers)

If there was one record from Keyshia’s A Different Me album that had the ability to reach a more mainstream audience, it was her country-inspired song, “This is Us.”

Supported by an acoustic guitar, a timid drum pattern and sugary analogies on an imperfectly perfect relationship, Keyshia showcased that she was able to tap into new genres of music and sound outstanding.

Allegedly, “This is Us” was expected to be released as the fourth and final single from A Different Me. Keyshia’s pregnancy probably played a huge factor in the failure to move forward with “Us” as a single.

7. “Tired of Doing Me” featuring Tank from the album Calling All Hearts (2010)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, F. Taylor, M. Quaham, D. Babbs (Tank), J. Franklin, R. Newt, J. Valentine, K. Stephens; Toxic**, Ron Fair, N8**, and Song Dynasty (Producers)

Keyshia is never afraid to share an R&B moment with artists she admires. She invites Tank to help her explain the emptiness of being alone after realizing the value of finding that special person.

In separate verses, the R&B General recounts his life as a bachelor while Keysh explains why she was hesitant about falling in love again. The two singers find a happy medium on the bridge, accepting that “doing me ain’t working no more.”

8. “What You Do To Me” from the album Calling All Hearts (2010)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Chink Santana (Writers); Chink Santana (Producer)

Caught up in the rapture of love with then-husband Daniel “Boobie” Gibson, Keyshia tried her luck at making some “grown-folk” music. She succeeded with this intimately composed ballad.

On the sensual track, Keyshia paints the ultimate love scene in her head about how her man makes her temperature rise. “I can feel you kissing me, oh so softly / Making love baby, I can feel your heartbeat / Baby, don’t stop,” she passionately sings.

She is vocally excellent on this song, using the right breathing techniques to set the mood just right for love-making. This record is perfect to play for an anniversary or a just an “I love you” moment for your significant other.

9. “Who’s Gonna Hold Me Down” from the album Woman to Woman (2012)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Kuk Harrell, Guordan Banks, Jessyca Wilson, Isaacs Hayes (Writers); BINK! Humble Monsta (Producer)

“Shaft!” is the immediate phrase that comes to mind when the funky instrumental starts off the track. Keyshia does Isaac Hayes’ “Shafts Theme” justice with this four-minute conversational tune on recouping after the dust settles from an unsuccessful romance.

On the BINK!-produced track, Keyshia uses her speaking voice to informally elaborate on the painful accuracies of how we repeatedly let our lovers hurt us but always managing to find it in our hearts to give them one more chance. Most times we convince ourselves we need them when we actually are better off without them. “When I’m with you, my heart skips a beat / Oh, I want you back I need you bad / But I gotta get over you, “ she sings.

Thankfully, she gathers feelings towards the end of the deluxe edition record, leaving us with a final realization. “Guess you gotta let that go / If it ain’t yours, it ain’t yours / You gotta let it go / I now it’s hard but you can do better,” she preaches.

10. “Next Move” from the album Woman to Woman (2012)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Kuk Harrell, Guordan Banks, Jessyca Wilson (Writers); BINK! Humble Monsta (Producer)

After a lukewarm response for her Calling All Hearts album, Keyshia came strong with Woman to Woman. Her hard work shows on this slow-paced ballad featuring background vocals from Robin Thicke.

Being in a relationship without a title two things: mixed feelings and heartbreak. To limit confusion, simply making the “next move” and asking the hard but seriously needed questions, “Are we going to be monogamous or should we just see other people?”

If we don’t have this conversation early on, we’ll probably end up like Keyshia does on the second verse. “I hate the fact, we never set the rules / So I can’t even trip when you want to act brand new / But I still get mad when you walk out the room / But the truth is: I’m not the only one loving you,” she painfully remembers.

HONORABLE MENTION

“Same Thing (Interlude)” from the album Just Like You

Credits: Keyshia Cole, T. Rey and C. Brown (Writers); T Rey and C. Broan (Producers)

Serving as a transition between songs “Heaven Sent” and “Got to Get My Heart Back,” this nearly two-minute tease makes us want to fight Keyshia. While she pours out her emotions about the redundant behavior of her two-timing ex, she indirectly plays with ours. This interlude deserved more. We wanted more.

Did we get this list right? Let us know in the comment section.

Follow Antwane @9thwonderofPR

Top 5 Songs from Chloe x Halle’s Debut Album ‘The Kids Are Alright’

It’s been over five years since Chloe and Halle Bailey released their cover of “Pretty Hurts” by Beyoncé. The video instantly went viral, racking up millions of views within a short span. Among the viewers was the queen herself, Beyoncé. Moved by their stellar performance, Bey wanted to sign the sisters to her label Parkwood Entertainment — and she did.

Since then, Beyoncé has kept the girls under her wings as she developed and mentored them into becoming artists. Known together as Chloe x Halle, the duo has finally released their debut album The Kids Are Alright via Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records.

“The title means so much to us; we’re speaking about ourselves as we’re growing into young women, telling ourselves we’re going to be OK,’ Chloe told TIME. “We’ll make mistakes and we’ll have obstacles, but we’ll overcome them.”

The Kids Are Alright is loaded with 17 tracks including previously released songs “Grown” from Grown-ish, “Warrior” from A Wrinkle in Time, “Drop” and “Fall.” The last two tracks also appeared on their Sugar Symphony EP. Chloe x Halle kept their guest list short on this album, limiting it to three guest appearances from rappers GoldLink, Joey Bada$$ and Kari Faux.

Check out our top five picks from The Kids Are Alright. 

1. Everywhere [Produced by Chloe Bailey]

At first listen, one may assume “Everywhere” is a braggadocious track, especially hearing them sing “I got money everywhere / Falling off the tree.” However, in this case, Chloe x Halle use ‘money’ as a metaphor to speak great things into existence like love, happiness and success. The trap-inspired beat paired with the catchy hook is what makes this track stand out.

2. Hi Lo (featuring GoldLink) [Produced by Pluss and Chloe Bailey]

Co-produced by Chloe and Pluss, “Hi Lo” is about accepting yourself — flaws and all. “When I cannot tell each day apart / Yeah I like it yeah / Freckles on my face connect like stars / Yeah I like it,” Chloe sings.

3. Galaxy [Produced by Chloe Bailey]

“Galaxy” finds the sisters sharing their views on a relationship that has gone sour. With lyrics like “Imma throw you back into the galaxy,” it’s clear that they’ve reached their breaking point and are ready to move on with life.

Halle adds, “You’ve been tryna’ break me / You’ve been tryna’ shake me / But like the earth, I’m steady / I won’t lose it.” Although the song is about a breakup, it will definitely have you ready to dance with its melodic handclapping beat.

4. Happy Without Me (featuring Joey BadA$$) [Produced by Adam Messinger, Nasri Atweh, Chloe Bailey and Halle Bailey]

Chloe x Halle goes back to singing about love on “Happy Without Me.” Despite throwing their ex back into the galaxy, there seems to be a part of them that can’t stand to see their past lovers in a new relationship. The song touches home for anyone who has let a lover go but isn’t ready to accept the fact that they may move on faster than they think.

“Bittersweet, those memories / And I see, you with her now / And it breaks my heart, and it breaks my heart (yeah) / And it breaks my heart to see you happy, without me,” Chloe sings. Joey BadA$$ shares the same sentiments as Chloe and Halle. “I wish the feelings would just go away / I still be thinkin’ ’bout you to this day,” he raps.

5. Cool People [Produced by Malay Ho]

Moving on a relationship isn’t always easy. “Cool People” gives hope to the brokenhearted. The emotional track is about finding a new love interest after being down on love for so long. “Cause darling when you smile it’s like the rain dries out / Now there’s no more room for clouds / Got me singing Hallelu, ah Hallelu oh / When you hold my hand it just reminds me of, there’s still cool people in the world,” they sing.

To be honest, creating this list was hard! The entire album is a solid body of work — from the colorful lyrics and refreshing production to the mesmerizing vocals! Stream it below for yourself.

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