8 Thoughts After Finishing Bobby Brown’s Good But Messy-Ass Memoir » VSB

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8 Thoughts After Finishing Bobby Brown’s Good But Messy-Ass Memoir

Over the weekend, I breezed through Bobby Brown’s memoir, Every Little Step: My Story and it was quite the learning experience. Well, duh, of course I know who Bobby Brown is, but when he was doing his thing in the 80s, my wee heart could only focus on Anita Baker and Janet Jackson. My earliest memories of him involve Video Soul, which filled many a VHS tape in my house back in The Age of Cross Colours, but I wasn’t pressed. I learned about the magic after the fact.

I never performed “My Prerogative” for my mama and her friends. I have no problem admitting that I can only name all of the members of New Edition because of the rap in “Cool It Now.” I love their music, but don’t ask me to rank Bobby’s albums or opine on the superiority of the original lineup versus the Johnny Gill situation. (Or svelt Luther versus thickums Luther, for that matter.) I know Bobby was a dancin’-ass nigga a few lifetimes ago, and that he was influential in the New Jack Swing movement. But I mainly experienced him as Whitney Houston’s oft-misunderstood, juicy-mouthed drug buddy/partner-in-crime, and Bobbi Kristina’s pappy. I knew that he, too, was a shoulder pad enthusiast, but he’s much more than that. Anyhow, after finishing the book on a recent flight, dammit, I have some thoughts.

The book was good as shit. After devouring Kat Kinsman’s Hi, Anxiety: Life With a Bad Case of Nerves, I spent a few weeks trying to get into Grace Jones’ memoir, I’ll Never Write My Memoirs, and it has yet to put any rooter in my tooter, so it’s been el struggle. Bobby had me on the first page. I reckon I’ll get back to Grace later. (I’m now reading The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticatmy first time reading her—and shit damn wow.)

Co-written by Nick Chiles, it is straightforward, messy, and compelling. He will not let you forget that this book is his moment in the sun, his turn to be Beyoncé at the Super Bowl, the shedding of an Ike Turnerized legacy, his chance to expel all misinformed hateration from the dancerie. Thankfully, it wasn’t done obnoxiously. Shoutout to growth and copy editors.

I didn’t realize the extent of his success and impact pre-Whitney. I knew he had some jams, but I didn’t know that Don’t Be Cruel was the best-selling album in the U.S. in 1989. Or that was number one on the Billboard 200 charts for six weeks. Or how young he and the rest of New Edition were when they became breadwinners and stars.

It was refreshing to hear his side of the story. Most of what I know about Bobby relates to his role as Mr. Whitney Houston and as the model from which the ancestors 3D printed Bobbi Kristina’s face, mouf and all. He is often blamed for Whitney’s demise, or at least leading her down the yellow brick road to destruction. So I enjoyed learning his version of events, my previous impression of him inevitably shaped by how he’s been portrayed in the media, thanks in large part to the Houston Family Narrative Control Center. Reading of his exploits as a young fly zaddy awash with luchini, hangers-on, milk, and honey, I felt like we were sitting on the dock of the bay with red cups of jungle juice, vibing over hoeism on a seventh grade reading level. Muy honest. Mad intimate.

Bobby is pretty self-aware. Bobby has no problems reminding you—spending pages upon pages recounting, in case you had forgotten—of his greatness. Of his bad boy swagger. Of his swole bank accounts. Of the innumerable coochies he hath explored. He is proud of what he’s done, and rightfully so, but he’s open about his fuckups, mistakes with money, friends, and associates, and his struggles and shortcomings as a husband and parent, particularly with Bobbi Kristina. Though he has indeed paid the cost to be the boss, when reflecting on yesteryear when he was That Nigga, he’s more matter of fact and less obnoxiously self-indulgent than I had expected. He didn’t paint himself as the hero throughout the book, which would have been powerfully corny. He accepts his shitbag tendencies.

Bobby was a hoe. He told it all. He was indeed humpin’ around, laying it low and spreading it wide. Sharing his music and penis with the world. He smanged many famous wimmenz, and named names, places, and freaky-deaky fetishes. He mentioned intimacy issues and all that jazz, too, and how sex affected his relationships. Who doesn’t love a good wayward-hoe-turned-family-man saga?

The Janet stuff made me clutch my pearls. I don’t know if it was common knowledge at the time, but this was all news to me. I would stab your grandma’s puppy if Janet asked me to, so I was initially defensive. I mean, he was an energetic and flashy tenderoni back in the day, so I suppose I can’t blame her if indeed there was some smangage.

I had forgotten about the cocaine chicken story. When news of a forthcoming epic from Sir Bobby of Brown first hit the skreets, one of the first released snippets detailed that time an eager Young Bobbington took it upon himself to fry up some chicken for his famlay, and unknowingly breaded and fried the chicken in the cocaine his loving mother intended to sell. He took a few bites and started feeling however cocaine-coated chicken makes you feel, not recognizing the smell of cooked drugs. But you know who did recognize that smell? His startled slinging-ass mama. And while I read and shared this tale when the story dropped months back, there I was this past Sunday morning, crylaughing at child endangerment and drugstuff on the train. One minute, she’s the hood’s Mother Teresa and the next living, la vida droga that Rick Ross daydreams about. It was the worst of times.

Based on his level of self-awareness, I would watch a Bobby Brown biopic. His candor about his shitbag tendencies is endearing. There’s sangin’ and dancin’. And I love a grand dance moment. There’s ambition, love, sex, betrayal, drugs, access to excess, and niggas with legendary curls of Jheri. Sure, there’s bound to be a questionable Gumby wig or two, but there’s no way it won’t be a captivating watch. As long as none of the rat bastards responsible for Flex Alexander’s gout-inducing attempt at playing Michael Jackson are in the mix, I vote yes.

I say all that to say, buy the book.

Join me, my podcast cohost Jay, and the VSB brohams in DC next Thursday for “New Edition: A Very Extraordinary Watch Party” for the finaly of BET’s The New Edition Story. Hit us up for sponsorship or vendor information.


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Alex Hardy

Alexander Hardy is the dance captain for Saint Damita Jo Jackson's Royal Army. He is a writer who escaped Hampton, Virginia and is now based in Panama City, Panama. There, he runs The Colored Boy, and consumes copious amounts of chicken. He has written for EBONY.com, CNN, Gawker, and Huffington Post among other outlets. Alexander can likely be found daydreaming about his next meal or Blacking It Up on someone's dance floor. He also doesn't believe in snow or Delaware. Read more from Alex at www.thecoloredboy.com

  • Narrative Control Center…Westworld reference or nah????

  • TeeChantel

    Don’t Be Cruel bumped so hard back in the 80s. Bobby really had the airwaves on lock back in the day. I remember all of the boy bands that developed all because of Bobby and New Edition…. The Boys, ABC, Mista, my brother even formed his own little group and had won a ton of talent shows. I mean, there were so many out there you can’t name them all.

    Also, I just want to know, did Bobby actually sleep with a ghost or was that the crack talking?

    • Tasha Lawrence?

      Speaking of sleeping with ghosts and/or demonic entities, that shid is NO joke, and REAL as hayle too

      • TeeChantel

        That’s something I hope to never experience.

        • Tasha Lawrence?

          Just pray, that’s all. The name Jesus is above ALL names and those entities bow down to Him.

    • mr. steal your costco samples

      don’t be cruel was EEEEEEEEEEEE-NORMOUS.

      • TeeChantel

        That song got MAJOR spins back in the day.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        the opening notes had you running to the dance floor.

      • kingpinenut

        tendaroni was the jam too

        • “On Our Own” charted pretty damn high too if I remember.

      • cdj

        It was, and now that I’m thinking about it, its popularity crossed over different generations, too. I played that album out at home, and our middle school gym teacher made us work out to it every other day, for an entire semester! My dad also played the tape in the car on continuous repeat on a road trip from NY to TN.

        • Brother Mouzone

          They put the damn song in GHOSTBUSTERS 2! That’s how large that ninja was in 89.

      • Brother Mouzone

        People ridiculed Whitney when she said Bobby was the king of R&B, but from 88 to 90….who was bigger than Bobby? Don’t be Cruel, Every little step, Tenderoni, On our own, My perogative, Rock wit cha, I really love you Girl…..you gotta give it up to his crazy @ss.

    • He says he’s been clean for a while. While reading, I definitely thought that “experience” was brought to you by some ill drugs.

      • TeeChantel

        Ok, gotcha. I remember Bobby making a big deal about it when promoting the book. Maybe I’ll check out the book.

    • I want a Mista reunion.

      • TeeChantel

        Upvote. I need this to happen too! I still listen to their album

      • miss t-lee

        For why?

        • For Blackberry Molasses. For Lady. For What Love Is. They had some great material.

          • miss t-lee

            No.

            • I rather watch Mista take on Soul 4 Real in a cage match.

              • miss t-lee

                Now this, I would watch.
                Except I think them Soul 4 Real cats might be on lock.

          • Ille Jay

            Got a soft spot for “Molasses” and “Tears, Scars and Lies”. I’d welcome a reunion. Soul 4 Real’soon 2nd album plays well also, it got lost in the shuffle of the label and dreaded the group from mainstream but my Steprental and I used to bump it decent.

        • Sweet Potato Kai ?

          And why for??

          • miss t-lee

            LMAO

      • Dubyaa

        I still gets misty eyed on “Blackberry Molasses”

    • Cranberry05

      ABC!!!!

      • TeeChantel

        Boyz to Men, ABC, BBD!!!! Mmmmmm Hmmmm!
        That tune will always stay in my head!!!

        • Cranberry05

          Girrrllll….we’re about to get it started!

  • Keisha

    Anyone know what the Janet stuff refers to?

  • HouseOfBonnets
  • miss t-lee

    Bobby was huge in his heyday.
    I’m an old NE stan from way back, and when he left the group to go solo I was sad, until the album Don’t Be Cruel dropped.
    I totally wanna check out the book now.

    • I feel like Bobby, Teddy, and others are the reason all of these R&B sangers today think they can sing rap poorly and still pop. They laid the foundation for sure.

      • miss t-lee

        Ha! I think you’re right, Bobby did that rap on “On Our Own”, and nothing was the same.

        • Freebird

          I love that damn song.

          • miss t-lee

            It still jams.
            I loved Bobby so much I own an album of dance remixes. It was not a game…lol

          • Cranberry05

            I just said the same thing!

            Well, I guess we’re gonna have to take control….

            • Freebird

              Ya Ya Ya knownit!

  • Tesha Groom

    Bobby was set to be my first ex-husband

    • TeeChantel

      Really? I always thought of Bobby as the ugly one out of the group.

      • Tesha Groom

        I guess I have a thing for dark-skinneded dudes with gap-teeth and a crazy sense of humor. Lol smh

        • cyanic

          I’ll take one of those.

          • Tesha Groom

            They are trouble I tell you lol

      • Tasha Lawrence?

        He is.

      • cyanic

        Rickey Bell is universally agreed as the ugly one. Bobby was especially unfortunate in the beginning.

        • TeeChantel

          Ricky was OK back then, he is certainly the ugly now. Ralph and Mike were my favorites ones out of the group.

          • cyanic

            Just give me Ralph circa If It Isn’t Love.

            • Tesha Groom

              I met Ralph twice. Ego was out of control lol but he was cool

              • cyanic

                An ego can alienate allies especially when you believe you know better than those who made you musically.

            • Mochasister

              I like him in Sensitivity.

        • Tesha Groom

          Ctfu…he was

      • miss t-lee

        Nah that was Biv.

      • Brother Mouzone

        My sister always thought Ricky was the looks challenged one.

    • KeyBrad

      Same here.

      • Tesha Groom

        You should see my ex-boyfriend/future husband ctfu….he could pass for Bobby Brown

        Don’t worry – I’m working on my issues ?

  • Tasha Lawrence?

    Correction, Bobby has NEVER been fahn. He had the swag, but not the looks. Carry on.

    Bad boys…. YUCK.

    • Yeah…I can’t get on board with Bobby Brown as “Fine” but…I can see how one could get caught up with a circa 1988 Bobby Brown lol

      • Tasha Lawrence?

        I can’t even see the caughtupingnesss

        • TeeChantel

          Same

        • Girl…ppl get caught up with Lil Wayne…Bobby ain’t THAT hard on the eyes. PLUS I bet you anything Diamonds to Donuts he is a MASTER Plumber. IF you catch my meaning.

          • Tasha Lawrence?

            I caught your meaning. I hear you and I pray for God to open the eyes of the blind.

            • Lex

              lmaoooo

          • Mochasister

            Well, he’s had plenty of practice.

        • We were at a NYE party and Lil Wayne was in our section…

          My younger sister LOST IT. I was like ugh, hes not cute, and I’m taller than him with heels on. Get it together girl. So we partied with lil wayne on NYE. It was a lituation.

          • Tasha Lawrence?

            God bless her.

            • GIRL…
              She has, is married now to someone who looks nothing like him, with the cutest kid!

              • Tasha Lawrence?

                Ain’t God good??

          • Mochasister

            Po’ child. She young and don’t know no better. When she gets older, you can tease her about being in love with the mogwai that got fed after midnight.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        If you were here when he came to RPI, you too would have been throwing your panties on the stage. Dude was Hott Toddin in all white with no underwear on thrustin dem hips in front of all those adoring women.

        • Tesha Groom

          Oh my!
          *clutching pearls*
          Ctfu

        • LMFAO he’s such a skeezer for that. No pannies?! ahahahahahahahaha

        • I don’t mean I wouldn’t be attracted to him, I’ve found myself attracted to less than fine men. However, just because I find something about you attractive doesn’t really mean you’re FINE either.

        • Cheech

          Sig, were you at RPI in the winter of 89-90, when WCW shot a pay per view at the hockey arena there?

          • Sigma_Since 93

            I remember it but I wasn’t there.

            • Cheech

              Just playing small world. That was a fun one, in the emerging days of wrestling-meets-rock-production.

        • miss t-lee

          I thought I remembered him getting arrested for indecency or something at one point. Maybe I’m remembering wrong…

          • Tesha Groom

            Woooww yeah I remember that! Too much grinding on the stage ?

            *suddenly jealous*

            • miss t-lee

              YUPPPP.

              • Ille Jay

                Dang, Georgia mad repressive…hemmed up Ray Charles, didn’t James Brown get his issue there too?

                • miss t-lee

                  I believe so.

                • miss t-lee

                  Hey! Finally saw Hidden Figures tonight. So awesome!

                  • Ille Jay

                    Finally gal, haha…glad you liked it! I actually took my daughters (along w/their Momma) to Houston this past weekend and Johnson Space Center, for a more hands-on followup to the movie, sorta expensive…but pretty much worth it! Thanks for sharing! ?

                    • miss t-lee

                      Nice!
                      I’m in Houston a bunch, but I’ve never checked out the Space Center.
                      Definitely wanna go now.

                    • Ille Jay

                      Do it!

          • I remember him being arrest in Augusta, GA.

          • Sigma_Since 93

            Yup and bragged about it in the Roni video. Work won’t let me be great but pull up Roni live video if you’re interested.

            • miss t-lee

              Oh, I totally remember the Roni video.

            • Janelle Doe

              Do you think Janet got her velvet rope live inspiration from Roni live?

              • Sigma_Since 93

                You never can tell. Janet has been dropping low key freak hits since her Control album. Heck before the Control album. The baseline is Making Love in the Rain with Janet and Jeff Lober. Then take a listen to Funny How Time Flies and then it begins to ratchet up every album afterward.

                • orchid921

                  My mom refused to let me listen to Funny How Time Flies back in the day. Then I started taking French and it all made sense. ;)

          • Mochasister

            No, I seem to recall that as well

        • In his prime, those chicks wouldn’t care if he was their own father, because they’d still hump him with no rubber!

        • Mochasister

          No underwear you say? All white you say?

    • cyanic

      He had appeal. And his swipe is the truth.

      • Tasha Lawrence?

        k.

    • Freebird

      Good looking has nay thang to do with it cause…Jay Z.

    • Swag matters a LOT. All else equal, for a man, swag matters more than looks.

      • Sweet Potato Kai ?

        I’ll take swag over looks

        • i second this…

        • Janelle Doe

          Me too. Some looks fade with age

      • Tasha Lawrence?

        For a woman, completely the opposite. One can be fixed the other not. Swag is not natural. It can be obtained. On the other hand, looks….

        • Cranberry05

          I feel like in order for someone to have swag, they also must be confident and carry themselves as such. You can’t just throw some expensive or clothes that compliment them and they instantly have swag.

          • Tasha Lawrence?

            Oh, absolutely honey. That swag manifests from within, radiates on out

      • Kas loves Jamaican Breakfast

        You are misspelling “money”.

        • Not necessarily. Money definitely helps, but you can have cash with no swagger.

          • Kas loves Jamaican Breakfast

            I’ll put serious cash up against swagger any day of the week.

        • Cranberry05

          LOL!

        • Janelle Doe

          Hahahaha
          Nice one.
          I mean how else can we explain Flavours of love?

      • OSHH

        I hate the word swag but rather certain intangibles, that je ne sais quois that some posses naturally, in spades. Something in the spirit perhaps, that is super attractive/magnetic.

    • TheVilleintheA

      Handsomeness is in the eye of the…. You get the point. I thought Bobby “fahn” back in the day. Seeing him on BET and then in person at Lenox mall lower level near Bloomingdale’s (in ’89 Macy’s). Sometimes “Cute”ll kill ya” per my homie from Mobile, AL. That quote was played out at a concert Al B. Sure and Bobby Brown performed in. Al B. Sure in his curly cuteness should’ve taken that football scholly but then there would be no Night and Day. His dancing and singing skills were not meant to be paid for at a live performance. Bobby on the other hand put on a show.

      • Tasha Lawrence?

        He put on a show. Right. Cannot disagree on that, but looks remained the same or did they too put on a show and show out? Lord deliver me from vanity.

        • TheVilleintheA

          Let’s say if you knew a dude who looked like Bobby Brown or the same level of attractiveness and he kept his looks up, clean cut and all you wouldn’t say that he was ugly. I’m saying this because I saw him up close in person and he looked good. He wasn’t Blair Underwood but he still looked good. As far as him keeping his looks up now, that’s another story. The only thing that I didn’t find totally attractive about B Brown was his build he could’ve bulked up a bit. So yes, IMO he looked good. Seeing him in person solidified his good looks.

          • Tasha Lawrence?

            Honey I don’t care how you clean up……

    • Mary Burrell

      Ralph Tresvant was the handsome one.

      • Brother Mouzone

        I’m sure that’s why they put him at lead singer when Ricky was and is obviously the better singer.

      • Mochasister

        Yes! A thousand times yes! Although he was a bit skinny for my taste.

        • Cranberry05

          I find that the skinny ones always have :signal faded:

          • AnswerMe

            You are quite correct.

            • Blueberry01

              :zooms into avi: Wait…are you skinny, too?

              • AnswerMe

                Nope. I’m a woman who hates cornbread but just looks like she loves it.

                • Blueberry01

                  LOL!

  • I started it, and somewhere between cocaine chicken and pulling a gun on a store clerk who called him the inward, I decided I needed to do better things with my life.

    • Tasha Lawrence?

      His book sounds quite entertaining. How much is it retailing for I ain’t buying no book for 28$

      • You can get a Kindle version for 9.99

      • Cheech

        Wait a month; there will be used ones on amazon or half.com.

      • Val

        Library, AM.

        • Tasha Lawrence?

          You right. You know what’s pissing me off. There is this book I wanted to buy by a Cameroonian author set in Harlem. It’s going for 28$. I want to support but I’m not paying that much for a book in hardcover with big lettering that can be condensed into a small novel. Woosah.

          • Val

            Yeah, I wouldn’t read half the books I do if it wasn’t for the library.

      • Cleojonz

        It’s in the library. I don’t buy books if I can help it. Also on ibooks.

  • Richard ‘Mlungisi Sechaba’ Jon

    I guess having been around when New Edition and later Bobby Brown, came to prominence, much did not surprise me. Except for his romp with Janet Jackson, everything else was pretty much played out in various media outlets and magazines. I was a resident of Atlanta when Bobby & Whitney relocated, so some of those incidents I recall. As far as biographies, it wasn’t bad, nor was it that great. It’s in my collection along with LL Cool J, Mike Tyson, LA Reid, Billy Strayhorn, and many others.

  • FarbissinaPunim

    Dang! I wish I lived in DC. I wanna be at that watch party.

    • Right?! Why it gotta be on Thursday? Also, why I gotta be broke? So…many questions.

    • kingpinenut

      Look…some old white lady in a white suv just tried to run me down while I was walking across the street in a bright ayus yellow shirt…..

      I don’t want to be any closer to DC or the USA right now

      • Val

        Yellow shirt? :-)

        • kingpinenut

          black and yellow always goes good….

          old bat was blind af

          • Cranberry05

            The latter…

    • TeeChantel

      DC is going to be bananas. Keeping my behind safe and sound at home.

      • kingpinenut

        White folks is losing they damb MINDS

        • TeeChantel

          See and I don’t need NOBODY getting testy now that Trump is President.

        • wanderlust

          I live in D.C. and there was an incident on on my rail car this morning. An elderly black man who was clearly not in his right mind told a 2520 to move and she popped off told him to get his black a$$ out her face, called him a crack head, and then hit em with: you’re nig ger a$$ is probably going to get shot my cops. Everyone on the train erupted at that point. It escalated quickly and people had to jump in and let her know she was out of order.The black guy was barely arguing with her at this point but she kept getting louder as it she wanted to make a scene. This was the yellow line. Let her have tried that on the Green line…

          • Cleojonz

            This is the scary part. They are getting really reckless with their salty racist behavior. I’m glad the folks on your train called her out on it.

          • Deeds

            Oh wow, it’s getting too crazy around here. What stop were you near? Was it anywhere near where the inauguration stuff is happening?

            • wanderlust

              The incident started around DCA airport and went on until Chinatown

          • kingpinenut

            O_o

            She lucky old man ain’t whoop her a$$

            • wanderlust

              he didn’t have it ‘all together upstairs’ which made it even more disgusting that she choose to verbally abuse and berate him.

              • kingpinenut

                smgdh

                • wanderlust

                  Oh… people had their phones out. She got mad and was telling people to stop recording her. Someone told her- its still a free country (for now) so if you want to act up I have the right to record you.

              • esa

                she the type who only attacks those who cannot fight back

          • StillSuga

            WHOA. So happy I left town this week

          • grownandsexy2

            Whaaaaaaaat? Chile……………………….she’s lucky she wasn’t on the broad street line, any line in Philly. She’d be nothing but a memory.

          • Cheech

            I’m gonna hope and guess that was an out of town trumper in for the hostilities? But I havent ridden the yellow in from Va in a long while ….

            • wanderlust

              That’s the thing… I don’t think she was.. she seemed to be a local racist hiding in plain sight…

              • Cheech

                Argh. My sympathies with Bwhy’s take, above.

                These azzholes have certainly brought it out in the open, for better and worse.

              • Mr. Mooggyy

                They are out here! Most definitely.

          • Bwhy

            As a native, I’m upset with MY PEOPLE. Circa 2001 there was no way that woman gets off that train car without a black eye, no wallet/keys/cell phone, and a sizable chunk of her hair missing. Y’all mad civilized in the (former) murder capital these days. Even bums knew better than to make eye contact and speak. The good ole days.

          • Mochasister

            I dread these next four years.

          • Cranberry05

            How did I know it would be on the Green Line? Lol!

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