Chameleon Records founder Breyon Prescott sits behind the boards at Germano Studios in Manhattan, where he and members of RCA's publicity staff previewed tracks off Brandy's new upcoming album Two Eleven. (Photo: Andrew Hampp)
As Brandy preps her first release for RCA Records -- Two Eleven out October 16 -- Breyon Prescott, founder of Chameleon Records (which will jointly release the project with RCA) previewed tracks Monday afternoon at Germano Studios in Manhattan. Prescott had been wanting to work with the singer ever since he saw her perform at L.A. Live, but had to get permission from her most closely associated collaborator first.
"I talked to Rodney [Jerkins], just to make sure it was cool with him cause that's his baby," Prescott said. "I asked, 'is it cool if we can do something different?'" I want to come work with you but I want to do things a little different. I want her to come back with a whole new sound. He gave me his blessings. I thought, 'Brandy, the only way she can come back is to bring R&B back. You have to stick to the core of R&B.'"
Alongside Prescott, RCA's VP, publicity Sara Weinstein Dennison and RCA Records publicity assistant Whitney Buggs were in attendance. A small group of editors from Rolling Stone, VIBE Magazine, Essence Magazine and a few more, gathered in Germano Studios to listen to Brandy's sixth studio album.
Previewing nearly a dozen tracks cut for the project, Prescott says Two Eleven is already considered among previous Brandy collaborators -- Jerkins included -- as her best work since 1998's Never Say Never. "We saw everybody doing this whole dance sound and said, you can't do it," he said. "You gotta bring it back into 2012 with your hard beats, but the melodies and content of the songs gotta be good."
Though lead single "Put It Down" dips into Brandy's rap leanings (she guested on Timbaland's Shock Value II under her hip-hop alias Bran'Nu), many of the tracks Prescott previewed are a return to the multi-layered, impassioned vocals best showcased on fan favorites like "Angel In Disguise, "Full Moon" and "Afrodisiac." "Wildest Dreams," a heartfelt ballad written by Sean Garrett and produced by The Bizness, is already being teed up as the set's next single, with the singer name-checking herself several times in disbelief over finding true love again. Another ballad, "Without You," features one of Brandy's strongest, most confident vocals -- no coincidence, since the song's producer Harmony just worked with Keyshia Cole on her single "Enough of No Love."
A pair of collaborations with Rico Love and Jim Jonsin, "No Such Thing As Too Late" and "Hardly Breathing," finds the singer taking a step back from a new relationship -- "When you really love somebody / you can wait / 'cause there's no such thing as too late," she sings on the former.
The set is not without club bangers, however. The Bangladesh-produced "Let Me Go" references the hook from Swedish pop singer Lykke Li's "Tonight" and turns it into a bass-thumping, hold me-back-from-love anthem. "You know how I get when you let me go," Brandy sings on the chorus, with a later reference to her mom calling her out on Twitter that is sure to inspire many tweets from fans when they hear it.
Aside from Chris Brown, whom Brandy recently told MTV News also wrote a track called "Slower" for the album, Two Eleven will also likely feature a reunion of sorts with Frank Ocean, who penned a pair of songs for Brandy's last album Human as well as "Quickly," a 2008 duet with John Legend. Prescott played a rough cut of Brandy singing an Ocean song called "Scared Of Beautiful," before it gets reworked as a duet between the two singers. Another reunion -- with Timbaland -- is also likely in the cards, with the "Afrodisiac" producer currently in the studio working on a new track.