BOBBY BROWN: THE NEW EDITION
WHEN The New Edition Story – a miniseries about the beloved R&B group’s rise, fall and rise again
– came out last year, it became an international phenomenon. BET is attempting to recreate that phenomenon with the The Bobby
Brown Story, a miniseries about Brown’s life after New Edition and his road to becoming the selfproclaimed king of R&B.
On tour with Bell Biv Devoe in London, Brown hops on to the phone to talk to me about the new miniseries, which airs on BET in South Africa on Saturday and Sunday.
“I hope people see this (series) is just my life,” he says. “I was on the road to being a better father, better husband, better friend. I just work harder at being a better person.” This Story picks up where The
New Edition Story left off. Brown, played again by Woody McClain, is trying to find himself as a solo act. He keeps getting into trouble, keeps making babies with different women, but his talent doesn’t wane.
Viewers see Brown talk to Ralph Tresvant about the sound he wants for his next album. A sound he believes new jack swing pioneer, Teddy Riley, can deliver. But Louil Silas jr, a record executive at MCA Records, was intent on having Babyface and LA Reid produce Brown’s next project. They argue.
“I was going to keep both of them anyway but I was just trying to give Louil Silas a taste of his own medicine,” Brown says and laughs.
“He wanted to pick somebody and I wanted to pick somebody too. Teddy was perfect and LA and Babyface were able to give me the ballads and mid-tempos that I needed.”
The result was Don’t Be Cruel,
Brown’s seminal solo album released in 1988. It spawned hits like Roni,
Rock Wit’cha and the classic My Prerogative. Brown tells of penning the song: “It was the first time I took the train to Brooklyn and we were vibing out and trying to think of lyrics and words to use. By the time we got back, we had the melody and I knew just what I wanted to talk about. We came up with: ‘They say I’m crazy/I really don’t care/That’s my prerogative…’ It took just an hour to finish the song!”
Over the years, many artists have covered My Prerogative in performances and recordings. I ask if Britney Spears asked his permission before she covered the song, after a tumultuous time in her life. Brown chuckles, then says: “I don’t know. I didn’t like her version… the original was always better.”
Now Brown has recruited Babyface and Riley to work on his first single in six years, Like Bobby.
He says: “We had to write a song from what people saw in the movie so I asked Babyface and Teddy Riley to help me out with writing a song that takes the movie and my life and makes it make sense. It’s the new version of My Prerogative.”
The Bobby Brown Story feels like it was meant to be inspirational. Brown emphasises how death has surrounded him but, as he tells me, “God is not finished with me and I can only go deeper.”
The depth includes details of Brown’s personal life – like discovering Whitney Houston snorting up on their wedding day.
There is also a scene where, in the dead of night, a strung-out Brown is reminded that it’s his daughter’s birthday and he needs to call her.
“Oh,” his brother Tommy says, “you bought her a bike.”
It’s crushing for audiences to see, so I ask if some of those parts of his life are hard to watch.
“No,” Brown says. “Sometimes, when you’re real busy, you forget things. That’s the life. Sometimes we get so busy we miss the important things. I make sure I make up for it.” The first episode of The Bobby Brown Story airs on BET (DStv Channel 129) tomorrow at 8pm.
Ahead of The Bobby Brown Story premiere, the artist speaks about his life and lyrics.