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.

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