As this year flies by, 2020 continues to be a year for women in music. From Kiana Ledé & Jhené Aiko to Kehlani, Teyana Taylor (and oh so many more), women have been dominating R&B. Following these lovely acts, the prototype herself, Brandy, is back! Released on Friday (Jul. 31), Brandy’s seventh album, B7 comes after an 8-year hiatus. Rolling Stone shares the break follows after extensive label battles that further halted her music releases. After a drawn-out clash with her former label, she took matters into her own hands, thus creating her own label, “Brand Nu.” From this, we were blessed with B7. Holding nothing back, B7 arrives after 2012’s, Two Eleven and proves to be one of her most heartfelt projects yet. Nearly 30 years since her start, and Brandy still continues to be an untouchable, incomparable force. On B7, she brings another level of vulnerability, love, passion, and pure excellence.
With a runtime of 46 minutes, B7 holds 15 songs and only 3 key features from Chance the Rapper, Daniel Caesar, and Brandy’s daughter, Sy’Rai. B7 begins with the freeing, “Saving All My Love.” Over DJ Camper’s production, she sets the tone apologizing to the world for delay and tardiness. Her airy, monumental vocals burst through the moment she opens her mouth. She reveals her time away comes from burdens such as pain and heartache. She needed to re-find herself in order to show up as the legendary “Vocal Bible” we know her to be. Her voice literally lifts every hair on your arms and brings utter chills to your spine.
B7 introduces listeners to an all new Brandy, a more… liberated Brandy. On tracks such as “Unconditional Oceans” and “Lucid Dreams” Brandy plays with her tone and frequencies. Sonically, on both tracks, she delivers in such a way that is both refreshing yet completely innovative and new for her. She utilizes higher ranges while pushing herself out of her own norms. “Rather Be” seamlessly flows after “Unconditional Oceans” and provides many of the more seasoned Brandy listeners with that vintage, feathery vocal talent heard in previous Brandy projects. The beauty of “Rather Be” is, it is simply Brandy ripping the track apart with her serene voice. Her words melt onto the canvases of listeners minds as she sings about wanting nothing more to be in the presence of her lover… being loved on.
B7 utilizes elements of nostalgia as well. Brandy flashes listeners back to her Brandy album utilizing interludes with her three-part “All My Life” interludes. Ghostly and chilling, Brandy reminds us that the new kids today could never execute interludes the way she does.
As the album progresses, we reach a personal favorite, “Borderline.” Her low-tone, raspy voice graces the track. She charges her lover to never lie, cheat, or essentially hurt her. She feels like she is falling in love alone and it’s pushing her to the borderline. There’s nothing more dangerous than a woman in control of her feelings. And here, Brandy makes it clear that she’s fully aware of what’s taking place. She is not crazy (but she can turn up if she needs to). She will not let her lover’s lack of acknowledgement towards her feelings drive her insane. Brandy asks for him to feel what she’s feeling and empathize with her. The visual leaves goosebumps covering your entire body as it tells the story that Brandy beautifully sings. Being the genius that she is, Brandy uses the visual to shed light on the importance of mental health.
Vintage Brandy shines on “No Tomorrow.” From her harmonies, range of pitch & tone, and vocal dexterity, Brandy just puts on a flat-out show for her fans and listeners. It almost feels like the execution is without any effort. The energy simply intensifies on “Say Something.” As the pianos begin, and the percussion takes off, Brandy greets listeners with this lovely Jazz-infused appeal. She becomes even more powerful and authentic as she passionately places her heart on display. She urges her lover to say something that will cause her to trust and believe him again before she cuts the cord on this entire relationship.
“I’m on the fence ’cause I’m under attack
Been on that fence and I ain’t looking back
Questioned some things that I thought was a fact
I said some things that I could never take back
Figures of speech, I put you on the map
You take back promises, where did they go?
Acting up but no one’s there for the show
Hurt you, my bad, but how low can you go?”Say Something by Brandy
If you thought that was it, you’re sadly mistaken. Brandy continues to bring the grit with raw, funky records such as “I Am More” and “High Heels.” On “I Am More,” the electric guitars blaze as Brandy reminds her lover of her worth and value. She’s too grand to play the side chick or “other” woman. She declares her worth throughout the entire track. She needs more than playful encounters that lead to nothing meaningful. By the time listeners reach the bridge, Brandy is reminding the whole world of legend that she is (and she is not to be toyed with).
“I am here for the world
Been here for the world, king b*tch
Been an original since 1994, ask a snitch
Never catch me comin’ off of a bench playing the six
Never catch me in a group singin’ with some other chicks
I got a lion in my pocket, I’m lying but not lying
I’m a lion in my pocket.”I Am More by Brandy
“High Heels” finds Brandy and her daughter Sy’Rai harmonizing beautifully. Brandy makes it clear that no one validates her besides herself as she and Sy’Rai sing about wearing their high heels with their heads held high. They acknowledge the growth they both have achieved and they are damn proud of it.
B7 also takes the time to highlight in the beauty of motherhood with the album’s lead single, “Baby Mama.” Assisted by Chance the Rapper, the both pay respect to single mothers and mothers all over the world. Brandy gushes about Sy’Rai and how happy being her mother truly makes her.
On the album’s final song, “Bye Bipolar” Brandy takes us to church. As the pianos return, she delivers one of the most moving performances on the album. Again, metaphorically touching the taboo topic of mental health, she tells this story of saying goodbye to a toxic failed engagement that left her in ruins, tears, and calamity. Just as she started, she ends the album on pure vulnerability.
“Bye bye, bye bipolar
I don’t really want no more disorder
Pretty boy in love got both shoulders colder
‘Cause you strung me like thread, I was damn near dead
And you f*cked with my head like lead, Russian roulette.”Bye Bipolar by Brandy
When a veteran such as Brandy releases music today, there’s nothing more to do than simply consume and enjoy. Her credentials speak for herself. She has nothing more to prove to anyone. Brandy has now reached a level in her career where her music is simply a tool for her to spread love, peace, relatability, and healing to others. On B7, listeners and fans are introduced a brand-new version of Brandy. Not only is she happier, but she is stronger than ever. Utilizing honesty, authenticity, and healing, she taps into the best version of herself. No longer letting previous obstacles tear at her, she frees herself from the bondage each of those situations held her in.
B7 channels various layers from Brandy’s previous music while experimenting with sound, musicality, and production. It takes nothing from the decorated legacy that is Brandy. Instead, it gets better with each listen while creating a beautiful gateway for future releases. B7 gets an 8 out of 10. Congratulations on another great project, and it is so great to hear your voice again, Brandy.
Top 5 Tracks from B7:
- Rather Be
- Bye Bipolar
- Say Something
- Unconditional Oceans