No true 80s album collection would be complete without singer Bobby Brown’s Don’t Be Cruel. After his exit from the group New Edition in 1986, Brown signed a solo deal with MCA Records. At seventeen years old, he released his debut album King of Stage which included the single “Girlfriend.” The song became a number one R&B hit and proved that there was definitely potential for Brown to have a successful solo career, given the right songs and producers. Two years later Brown returned with a vengeance with Don’t Be Cruel and, thanks to New Jack Swing mastermind Teddy Riley and the production team of L.A and Babyface, Brown could do no wrong. Much like Janet Jackson’s “Control,” Brown’s single “My Prerogative” was his declaration of independence and it was an instant hit, making it to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Black Singles charts and proved to be a dance floor favorite when it hit the top ten on the Dance Club Play chart. (The song would hit the charts again two decades later when singer Britney Spears covered it on her Greatest Hits: My Prerogative album in 2004). Brown built up the momentum with an extensive tour and continued to make noise on the charts and the radio with danceable singles such as “Every Little Step,” the title track, “Don’t Be Cruel,” and with smooth, mid-tempo ballads like “Roni” and “Rock Wit’cha.” It also didn’t hurt when Brown recorded a song for the feature film Ghostbusters II in the spring of 1989 entitled “On Our Own,” which also hit the top of the R&B chart and made it to the number two spot on the pop chart. In the end the Don’t Be Cruel album was a chart-topping, multi-platinum smash, making it one of the highest selling albums of the decade.
Montrose Cunningham is an independent funk/rock/soul artist and devoted music aficionado residing in Dallas, Texas. When he isn’t digging through the crates–digital and analog–he’s jamming with his band or hanging with his daughters, sometimes at the same time. Purchase his latest release “Inertia” at www.cdbaby.com/cd/montrose, visit him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter @MontroseC. Check out his blog, Daddy Rock Star, at http://daddyrockstar.tumblr.com/.