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

Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images for BET

 

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

  • OSHH

    Let me reply to miss t free

  • NE and Bobby were Yuge back in the day. I remember my youngest sister (older than me by nine years) and her friends being into them. The crew even had burn after they splintered, old-voice Johnny Gill and all. Bobby went solo at a time when R&B was getting and edge thanks to Teddy Riley and others and it worked for him.

    Not shocked about the Janet (because Jacksons) stuff but the cocaine coated chicken will always be peek dope fiend behavior. I always thought he bore the brunt of Whitney’s issues when it came to the blame department but he seemed to soldier through everything.

    • Tesha Groom

      He really did shoulder alot of blame & negative press when it came to Whitney. And he still kinda does. Shout-Out to everyone who saw the reality show & knows the real deal lol

      • miss t-lee

        Yup. They tried to act like Bobby had her out there bad, when Whitney had been there, done that by the time she met Bobby.

        • TeeChantel

          At least folks in Jersey knew what Whitney was getting into. We weren’t fooled one bit.

          • miss t-lee

            Some folks from Jersey were the ones who first hipped me to the tea.

        • Deeds

          I heard it was her brother that first got her started on drugs. I’m not sure how true that is though.

          • miss t-lee

            I could believe it. He still looks madd crackish.

          • mssporadic

            He admitted it to Oprah.

        • Bobby is a better man than me because I wouldn’t have let myself be libeled or slandered like that.

          • miss t-lee

            I can’t stop laughing at your typo.

            • Booby Brown you mean?!?!

              • miss t-lee

                Yup!!! LMAO

        • Sigma_Since 93

          Modeling gave her access to all types of drugs. Her posse buries their heads to that fact AND she was from Jersey……Homegirl knew where the weed spot was

          • miss t-lee

            The modeling world? Them chicks love the nose candy. Plus, it’s how they keep them figures…lol

            • What figu……… transmission dropped…….

              • miss t-lee

                I was being nice Wu.
                The coat hanger look the designers prefer…lol

                • I know. I was playing. That look kind of wigs me out.

          • mssporadic

            Her brother introduced it to her…

  • Sigma_Since 93

    Bobby truly was the King of R&B for a minute. Teddy Riley was making the hits, Bobby was laying down the tracks with xtra swag and chex appeal.

    *Pulls out 8 min My Prerogative extended mix, Chess King outfit, and pretends to be 17 again.*

    • 17! LOL goodness I think I was MAYBE in kindergarten.

    • Man, I was in fourth grade if I recall correctly.

    • TeeChantel

      17? I was all of 6 years old when that song came out.

      • Jae Starz

        same! Maybe 8. Nope 6.

    • OSHH

      I was in middle school or 9th grade

      • miss t-lee

        6th grade.

    • miss t-lee

      And everybody laughed when Whitney said it, but it was truth.

    • This definitely sent me down a rabbit hole of performances and videos. His stuff still knocks. And these raggedy bammas out here on stages today could learn a lot from him.

      • mahoganylawlady

        He left it all on the stage back in the day.

      • kingpinenut

        upvote for bamma usage

        • Cranberry05

          I didn’t even know he was from the DMV…

      • miss t-lee

        He used to kill stage performances.

        • Shole did

        • I remember seeing Bobby with a black derby, handcuffed to a briefcase, rockin hammer pants and steel toe shoes.
          You couldn’t tell Bobby shid.

          • miss t-lee

            Not for a second.

          • Janelle Doe

            You still can’t

            • Mary

              Judging from the pink hat -jacket combo, obviously not!

              • Janelle Doe

                Snickering

        • Quirlygirly

          Yes he did. He used to kill impromptu performances.

          Back when Wendy Williams used to do her fancy parties in NYC. Bobby showed up to one. He was drunk as hayle. Wendy was feuding with him at the time but she asked him to get up and entertain the crowd. Bobby, without missing a beat, showed the fcuk out! You would not have even thought he was drunk.

          • miss t-lee

            I love it.

      • OSHH

        Chile…

    • 17…
      I was 6, le sigh

      • IAmMikeBrown

        14.

        • Mochasister

          15 for me.

    • I was 9 when that record came out. He was one of the few R&B cats I gave burn.

    • Cleojonz

      Looks like it’s just me and you Sig on the old folks train. I was 16 and you couldn’t tell me I was not the “Tender Roni” he was singing about lol.

      • grownandsexy2

        I won’t share how old I was. lol

        • Nik White

          Yeah I actually went to a Superfest…Keith Sweat was on the bill.

          • Mochasister

            Lawd, have mercy. Keith with his ole whining self.

      • Mochasister

        Count me in on that train too. And you’re wrong. Bobby was sanging to me. But I had to drop him for Ralph. Hey, what can I say. I needed a man with sensitivity.

        • Cleojonz

          I really hate that song sensitivity, but Ralph is STILL a good looking man. I had a thing for Ronnie for a little while but he looks like an Alien to me now lol.

    • Lmao@chess king

      • Sigma_Since 93

        Like I was the only one…..looking at the age of some of y’all during this time maybe I was. lol

        • What year was my prerogative?

          • Sigma_Since 93

            1988

            • I’m scared to say how old i was, lol

            • Epsilonicus

              I was 2

              • Mochasister

                SHUT UP! Hate you!

              • Cranberry05

                Lol.

            • TheUnsungStoryteller

              I wasn’t even thought of…

        • Ille Jay

          8 years grown

        • The Pedagogue

          I was 11 in 1988 and I had Don’t Be Cruel on cassette. We weren’t baller enough to have a CD player. My mother made me skip (Fast Forward) whenever Roni and Take It Slow came on. However, I listened to both ad nauseum when she wasn’t around. Don’t tell on me, y’all. She’d be so disappointed.

    • Cranberry05

      Not that extended mix!

  • LMNOP

    The Farming of Bones is one of my favorite books ever in the whole world.

    • It feels like being swept up in the most wonderful hug ever by some angels bearing sweet tea and cheese grits. About 75 pages in. I want to read everything she’s written.

      • KeyBrad

        ok, I’m convinced. On my way to Amazon.

      • LMNOP

        You should! I have read all of her novels, short stories and some of her YA and children’s books and enjoyed them all.

        I really want to read a non-fiction book she wrote called “Create Dangerously.”

  • B. Tracks

    Told y’all Bobby schmanged Janet!

      • B. Tracks

        I remember having this exact debate with more than a few people on here.

        • Deeds

          Was that because Janet was seen as too good for Bobby. I don’t see why that would be the case. Looking at old footage of Bobby, I can definitely see the appeal and why she would. Also, Janet was with Jermaine Dupri. If I were to compare the appeal of the two of them, Bobby would win hands down.

          • B. Tracks

            I dont know why that would be. It’s not that uncommon for women to date “down” as far as looks and/or image/respectability is concerned.

            Bobby is the original Chris Brown.

            • Janelle Doe

              I see it.

          • mssporadic

            Well she had already secretly married and divorced a DeBarge. Michael probably didn’t want a repeat of that.

        • miss t-lee

          I remember this too…lol

        • Quirlygirly

          I was one of them BT! I apologize *holds head low* You was right, I was wrong

          Janet kept that on the low low, for real. She ain’t telling none of her business. That is why she my girl

          • B. Tracks

            Its ok. I just have a distinct radar for credible shenanigans.

          • Mochasister

            People talk too much. Some stuff just needs to stay between you and God.

      • Cleojonz

        Me too, they kept that SUPER quiet. I’m not surprised though.

        • miss t-lee

          You could actually get away with that back then.

  • MoMoG

    Why does Bobby look like Busta Rhymes in the post photo tho? Sorry, I got distracted

  • Sigma_Since 93

    Wu alluded to it down thread but I’ve gotta say it again.

    Can we give Teddy Riley his proper due???? The late 80’s and 90’s would be so different without his contributions.

    • He was doing beats for singers and and rappers on some Mike Will Made It ish.

      • On top of that, Teddy Riley low key has probably mentored more musicians in Black music than any other artist. Jodeci, the Neptunes, Missy Elliott, Timbaland and Swing Mob all came from under his wing.

        • He did stuff with Boy George and Lady Gaga too.

          *Also dabbled in gospel and worked with MJ.

          • Sigma_Since 93

            If you look at all the songs he did for others folks don’t know about and you add that to he work with Guy, Blackstreet and Wrecks N Effect. Teddy Ted is nearing GOAT status.

            • Kas loves Jamaican Breakfast

              Yoga?

        • IAmMikeBrown

          Fun fact: Pharrell co-produced Rump Shaker and wrote Teddy’s verse.

          • orchid921

            It is INSANE to me that Pharrell has been around that long.

            • IAmMikeBrown

              He’s a vampire. He co-produced Camptown Ladies.

          • Looking4Treble

            Who knew? Rump Shaker is one of my favorite odes to my VSS’s.

    • kingpinenut

      Only Teddy I know bout is Mr. Penderayusdown*

      *yes I need jesus

      • SIR!

      • You need Jesus. And Buddha. And Muhammad. And maybe Krishna.

        • kingpinenut

          Sprankle in some Zoroaster too….

          *lost cause right now*

          • Nettiekjennings

            Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !uq236c:
            On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
            !uq236c:
            ??
            ??;?? http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash526DigitalPowerGetPay$97Hour ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????::::::!uq236c:….,……

      • MsCee

        Kilt.

    • miss t-lee

      King of New Jack Swing.

      • Cheech
        • miss t-lee

          Wow. Didn’t know this.

        • Negro Libre

          R&B ninjas are the real gangsters in the music industry apparently.

        • Well damn.

        • miss t-lee

          So I’m guessing this is what killed Budweiser SuperFest.

          • Cheech

            That would be it. (“Bloodweiser Superfest”)

            It struggled on for another few years with much softer artists, but was never the same.

            (Disclosure: I wasn’t there, but very good friends of mine were on that crew. And Ron Byrd–the best of men, who went hard for his guys–was the one who ended up getting locked up.)

            • miss t-lee

              Oh snap!

            • Janelle Doe

              Completely (but maybe not) unrelated Cheech, what kind of music do you listen to?

              • Cheech

                Almost all kinds. My favorites are Memphis/Muscle Shoals, singer-songwriters like John Hiatt and Bonnie Raitt, and the classic rock I grew up with.
                My hip-hop is mostly limited to the era I worked in music, mid 80s to early 90s. I’m generally 20 years behind on a lot of stuff, and have learned that trap music is not for me.

                • Janelle Doe

                  k, thanks.

        • RagesAgainstMachines

          WOW!!!!!! I can’t BELIEVE I never knew this!

        • Nik White

          I didn’t know about this Cheech.

          • Cheech

            It was a heII of a thing. Ron Byrd, the production manager, was the target. He was the one who ran the setup, set changes, and set times, which is what Guy thought they’d been dissed on. No one described Ron to the hit team though. Ron is an enormous black man who was offstage in the production office in Pittsburgh, doing his job. Spider is a spindly white guy who was the stage manager, not the production manager. The hit team saw the white guy on stage telling crew what to do, thought that was their guy, and beat him nearly to death. This is a guy who four years earlier had fallen out of David Bowie’s “Glass Spider” set on a European tour, a 90-foot fall to the stage. He was already put together with pins and steel screws, and nearly died from the beating. When Ron heard it happening he found a gun, chased them across the street, and gunned one of them down on the way into the hotel. So Ron, the target who was doing his job and standing up for his crew, was the one locked up for manslaughter. Because Guy thought they were being dissed on the set change and set time.

    • Val

      I guess but New Jack Swing hasn’t really held up over the years. It sounds so dated listening to it now, IMO.

      • New Jack Swing only makes sense in the context of R&B in that era. Otherwise, it comes off strange.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        I don’t know about you but I find my playlist contains more songs from this era than today’s. I can’t the Migos, The Weekend, or any of those other babbling rappers.

        • Val

          Lol Yeah, I agree somewhat. There are a lot of really good current artists out there. You just have to know how to find them as radio plays crap these days.

          As for that era, the early 90s was a great era for R&B. But, like I said, NJS in particular sounds dated to me know. Thankfully that was only one part of R&B back then.

        • OSHH

          I can’t with any of the aforementioned either.

        • Janelle Doe

          The Weekend is a rapper?

          • Cranberry05

            It seems like he tries to rap in some of his songs…

        • Mary

          “babbling rappers”
          Done.

        • SororSalsa

          Say what you want about 90’s hip hop, but at least the rappers didn’t all sounds like Mush Mouth back then. Ugh, it seems like a race to the bottom to see who can mumble the most (Future & Young Thug, I’m lookin’ at ya’ll….)

      • esa

        yeaa but in being dated it defines the spirit of the times perfectly ~*~

      • Wish I could give you 1000 upvotes.

      • Mochasister

        Hangs head in shame. I’ve been known to still listen to Rump Shaker. I’ll go to my corner now.

        • SororSalsa

          I’ll be hanging out with you…I’m listening to BBD’s remix album right now.

        • Clover1920

          My girlfriend was in the video….and we all shook our tails…I ain’t shamed.

        • Looking4Treble

          I still know all the words. I’ll meet you in the corner.

      • SororSalsa

        For the most part, I agree. It definitely sounds of its time. But I heard a BBD mini-mix on my way home today, and I was surprised how well “Poison” holds up.

      • SouthwestDekalb

        I tell you what, Bruno Mars has a new jack swing type of song on his album 24K Magic called “Finesse”. You’re gonna love how it takes you right back to that era….the whole album is pure listening pleasure.

    • Cranberry05

      Facts. I don’t even think his BET tribute they had last year covered all of his hits. Plus, most of the songs were autotuned, so it messed up my nostalgia.

  • kingpinenut

    Hoes gotta eat too…

  • ThatJerseyGirl

    The book is definitely worth the read. Easy to knock out this weekend in preparation for the New Edition miniseries next week!
    And +1 on the struggle with Grace Jones’ book. I can’t quite explain my struggle with it, but interested to hear from anyone else who read it.

    • cyanic

      Her choice of narrative tone ruins the authenticity of her telling her own story. She’s not having a conversation with the reader but attempting to tell a tall-tale about her life as an otherworldly figure.

      • Janelle Doe

        Mocking otherworldly figure would be my jeopardy guess for Grace Jones though.

        Sorry I meant: who is Grace Jones?

      • Great explanation. I’m sure the story is wonderful, but the tone isn’t engaging at all. She wants you to know that she is special. And it’s matter of fact, but offputtingly so. Meh.

        • Cranberry05

          But GJ has always been this way, no?

  • Kylroy

    But we’re all dying to know…did he *really* bang a ghost?

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