Full Moon (Brandy Norwood album)
|Studio album by Brandy|
|Released||February 25, 2002|
|Genre||R&B, pop, soul|
|Producer||Brandy Norwood (exec.), Rodney Jerkins (exec.), Big Bert, Stuart Brawley, Warryn Campbell, Mike City, Keith Crouch, Jason Derlatka, Fred Jerkins III, Kamillion|
|Singles from Full Moon|
Full Moon is the third studio album by American singer Brandy. First released by Atlantic Records on February 25, 2002, it was recorded during fall 2000 to October 2001 at several recording studios, amid a three-year musical hiatus following the release of her highly successful previous studio album Never Say Never (1998) and her nervous breakdown in November 1999.
As with Never Say Never, Norwood collaborated with Rodney Jerkins and his Darkchild crew on the majority of the album's production. The record saw her abandon her teenage appeal for a more adult and sensual edginess, coinciding with her relationship with music producer Big Bert and her pending pregnancy. Along with her image, Norwood's voice had gone through a major change, losing the "girly-rasp" that she once had, for a now deeper and warmer voice, that had acquired a scratchy, evocative edge. The music also reflected the change, as songs such as "What About Us?" and "Full Moon" explored more adult, sexual topics, and a sound that blended her previous urban pop sound with heavy influences of UK garage, dubstep, and progressively futuristic tones. Following a mixed response from critics at the time of its release, Full Moon has since earned retrospective recognition from musicians, singers, and producers within the contemporary R&B and gospel genres.
Her first album in four years, Full Moon debuted on top of the U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and at number 2 on the Billboard 200, selling approximately 156,000 copies in its first week of release. It eventually received a platinum certification by the RIAA for more than one million copies shipped to stores. While the album entered the top twenty on the majority of the charts it appeared on outside the United States, it also reached the top ten in Canada, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Background and development
After the end of her promotional touring for her previous album Never Say Never (1998), the cancellation of her UPN sitcom Moesha and a flurry of tabloid headlines discussing her nervous breakdown in November 1999 —the result of a failed relationship and her then-hectic and unhealthy lifestyle— Norwood went on a lengthy hiatus to reflect and take some introspective looks. "I needed to rejuvenate, get my creative juices flowing, balance my life with some privacy, to find my confidence, find my love of music again," she told Jet magazine in 2002. In mid-2000, she started reconsecrating herself on her musical career, contributing songs to albums such as Urban Renewal (2001) and the Osmosis Jones soundtrack (2001), which introduced a scratchy, evocative edge to Norwood's voice, now having a deeper and warmer tone with a textured lower register and notably stronger falsetto.
In fall 2000, Norwood finally began conceiving ideas for a third studio album with the Atlantic label. While Rodney Jerkins, the main producer of her previous album, and his Darkchild crew, including Fred Jerkins III and LaShawn Daniels, had been working on several new songs for the singer's upcoming project in hopes of recreating the winning chemistry of Never Say Never, Norwood wanted to make sure that she was gaining more creative control over the project and thus, arranged meetings with all her writers and musicians to discuss the lyricals topics and sounds she wanted for the album. "I was involved from A-Z," she said. "Every song on the album was inspired by my life [...] I wanted to talk about how I feel on so many levels. I wanted to be in touch with all of my emotions and share them. I've taken three years off for myself and got a chance to find things I like to do, things I don't like and things I want to change about myself." While Jerkins maintained his status as the album's executive producer, contributing most to its track listing with his team, Norwood also worked with producers Mike City, Keith Crouch, Warryn "Baby Dubb" Campbell, Stuart Brawley, Jason Derlatka, and Jerkin's cousin Robert "Big Bert" Smith, with whom she became romantically involved during the project. In addition, she also recorded with Babyface, and production duos Soulshock & Karlin and The Neptunes, but none of their songs eventually made the album's final tracklisting. Rapper Ja Rule was reportedly also involved into the project.
Though Norwood has acknowledged that the creative focus of the album was very much on its technical realization and its sound, she declared Full Moon a concept album based on the development of a male-female relationship: "It's definitely the concept for the album —me falling in love, then going through some turbulence, and then, at the end, I find the person that I really want to be with— so it's a great concept and it's a great experience that I had. I found out a lot about myself. I found a lot out about love, and I'm just happy to have that reflect in my music." Accounting the last three years of her life, Norwood decided to name the album after its title track, stating: "I have done a complete circle and I feel whole. All of that's reflected in the music. That's why I entitled [my album] Full Moon. It's a concept album, it's autobiographical. Everything that I've gone through in the last three years is reflected." The album was originally set to be released on November 20, 2001, but plans were scrapped.
The album opens with its title track, producer Mike City's only contribution to the album. A piano-dominated up-tempo song, Brandy characterised "Full Moon" as Urban contemporary, explaining that it is "pop and R&B at the same time [but] has a lot of elements to it." Lyrically, the song deals with a love at first sight during a full moon night. "I Thought," a Jerkins-crafted song about female empowerment, features electro bass lines and crunchy drums that "propels [it] away from the traditional R&B sound in to a new arena," according to Christian Hopwood of BBC Music. Jerkins described it as an "anthem [and] a flip off of "The Boy Is Mine."
Fourth track "When You Touch Me," a ballad, revolves around the planning of a rendezvous. On "All in Me," a "futuristically funked-out" record according to MTV News, Brandy pleads with her lover to have faith in her, promising him that she'll provide whatever he needs. Producer Rodney Jerkins decided on the inclusion of a 2-step groove section during the middle of the song, following a gig in London, England months before where he was inspired by artists like Craig David and Artful Dodger.
"It's Not Worth It" finds Brandy trying to hold her relationship together after it has deteriorated to shambles. Initially penned in 1999, Jerkins built the song around Michael Jackson's ad-libbed vocals, resulting from a joint recording sessions for Jackson's 2001 studio album Invincible; the output of which was not released by Jackson, but was also used on a Jerkins' track, 'Ride with Me', from his instrumental album, Versatility.
|The Michigan Daily||(mixed)|
Although Full Moon was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album at the 2003 Grammy Awards, media reception for the album was generally mixed. The album so far has a score of 60 out of 100 from Metacritic based on "mixed or average reviews". Craig Seymour of Entertainment Weekly gave Full Moon an A− rating, saying that "where [Rodney] Jerkins' herky-jerky stylings come off cold on Jacko's latest, they embolden 23-year-old Brandy as she learns the difference between teen heartbreak and grown-up betrayal, [suggesting] maturity and the high price that often comes with it." Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic was critical with the album's length of over 70 minutes but considered it Norwood's most assured, risky album yet, stating: "Full Moon comes the closest to being a full-fledged, well-rounded album, as well as establishing a personality as a singer [...] There are plenty of moments here that are seductively smooth and even the filler goes down smoothly." He gave the album four out of five stars.
Slant Magazine writer Sal Cinquemani rated the album three stars out of five and compared it to Janet Jackson's 1986 album Control, commenting: "For the most part, Full Moon is certainly a forward-minded album, lifting Brandy's typically schmaltzy brand of pop-R&B to a new, edgier plateau [...] The all-grown-up Miss Moesha seems to be making her final transition from sitting up in her room to sitting on top of the world." Billboard magazine praised Full Moon for its ballads and the leading single but was unsatisfied with the album as a whole, stating that "those expecting more from the same [as "What About Us?"] will be disappointed, it's a fairly paint-by-numbers affair." Devon Thomas, writer for The Michigan Daily, was generally disappointed with the album. He said that "heavily producer-driven, the album follows the template that catapulted her sophomore album to multi-platinum status. The tradition (or condition) continues on her junior outing, [which] exhibits the same ole Jerkins production we've heard time and time before, just slightly altered (or "updated") and equipped." Critical with mainstream R&B in general, he further summed: "We know it'll be another hit, another platinum plaque for the Moe-ster, but will this album go down on any 'Best of the Decade' lists? Highly unlikely." Rolling Stone dismissed the album as "frantic, faceless, fake-sexy R&B." In his Consumer Guide, Robert Christgau gave the album a "dud" rating.
In the United States, Full Moon debuted on top of the U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and at number two on the Billboard 200 on the issue dated March 13, 2002, marking her highest debut on both charts yet. Selling approximately 155,000 copies in its first week of release, the album fell short of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack (2000) by less than 4,000 copies. Spending thirty weeks on the latter chart, the album shifted about 700,000 copies within the first three months of its release in the United States, and was eventually certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for more than 1.1 million sold units. In addition, the album peaked at number eleven on the Billboard Top Internet Albums chart.
In Canada, the album reached number eight, and was certified gold by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) for shipment of 50,000 copies. In the United Kingdom, Full Moon became Norwood's first top ten album, debuting and peaking at number nine on the UK Albums Chart. It was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for shipment of 100,000 copies. While the album entered the top twenty on the majority of the charts it appeared on, it also reached the top ten in Germany and Switzerland where it became her highest-charting album to date.
Influence and legacy
Although initially receiving mixed reviews from critics upon release, Full Moon has since garnered retrospective recognition from musicians, singers, and producers, particularly within the contemporary R&B and urban contemporary gospel genres. The album is often cited as inspiration for singers due to Norwood's vocal nuances and arrangements. Singers Chris Brown, Kierra Sheard, Lil Mo, Mary Mary, and Tank among many others often reference the vocal work as influential.
Songwriter Sean Garrett credits the vocal work on the album for his approach to writing, saying "I take a lot from what [Brandy] and Rodney did on the Full Moon album. I was extremely impressed with it and I always try to outdo that album". B.Slade spoke of the album, commenting Full Moon single-handedly changed the vocal game. "It has been the template for vocal choices and background vocal arrangements [for years]." R&B singer Melanie Fiona, especially admired the singer's work on that album. Neo soul singer India.Arie often cites the album, particularly the song "He Is" as being the template for a wide array of singers." The oft-praised vocal work on the album sparked the idea of Norwood gaining the subjective nickname the "vocal bible". Canadian R&B singer Keshia Chanté credited the album for inspiring her writing for her album Night & Day, while American singer Luke James referred to Full Moon as the "bible" of 2000s contemporary R&B, calling it the "blueprint of how to do vocals."
|1.||"B-Rocka Intro"||LaShawn Daniels, Fred Jerkins III, Rodney Jerkins, Nora Payne, Kenisha Pratt||Rodney Jerkins||1:19|
|2.||"Full Moon"||Mike City||Mike City||4:08|
|3.||"I Thought"||L. Daniels, F. Jerkins, R. Jerkins||Rodney Jerkins||4:29|
|4.||"When You Touch Me"||R. Jerkins, N. Payne, K. Pratt, Robert Smith||Rodney Jerkins, Big Bert||5:43|
|5.||"Like This"||L. Daniels, F. Jerkins, R. Jerkins, Brandy Norwood||Rodney Jerkins||4:32|
|6.||"All in Me"||L. Daniels, F. Jerkins, R. Jerkins||Rodney Jerkins||4:00|
|7.||"Apart"||Keith Crouch, K. Pratt||Keith Crouch, Kamillion, Brandy||4:27|
|8.||"Can We"||L. Daniels, Alex Greggs, R. Jerkins||Rodney Jerkins||4:43|
|9.||"What About Us?"||L. Daniels, R. Jerkins, B. Norwood, N. Payne, K. Pratt||Rodney Jerkins||4:10|
|10.||"Anybody"||L. Daniels, F. Jerkins, R. Jerkins, B. Norwood, K. Pratt||Rodney Jerkins||4:55|
|11.||"Nothing"||L. Daniels, F. Jerkins, K. Pratt||Uncle Freddie||4:48|
|12.||"It's Not Worth It"||L. Daniels, F. Jerkins, R. Jerkins||Rodney Jerkins||4:23|
|13.||"He Is"||Warryn Campbell, Harold Lilly, Jr., B. Norwood||Warryn "Baby Dubb" Campbell, Brandy||4:21|
|14.||"Come a Little Closer"||Stuart Brawley, Jason Derlatka||Rodney Jerkins, Stuart Brawley, Jason Derlatka||4:32|
|15.||"Love Wouldn't Count Me Out"||L. Daniels, F. Jerkins, S. Johnson, B. Norwood||Uncle Freddie||4:19|
|16.||"WOW"||L. Daniels, B. Norwood, N. Payne, K. Pratt, R. Smith||Big Bert, Brandy||4:19|
|European/Oceanic bonus track|
|17.||"Another Day in Paradise" (with Ray J)||Phill Collins||Guy Roche||4:32|
|Japanese bonus tracks|
|17.||"Another Day in Paradise" (with Ray J)||Phill Collins||Guy Roche||4:32|
|18.||"I Wanna Fall in Love"||L. Daniels, R. Jerkins, B. Norwood, K. Pratt||Rodney Jerkins||3:52|
|19.||"Full Moon" (Cutfather & Joe Remix)||Mike City||Cutfather & Joe||4:08|
|North American bonus track|
|17.||"Die Without You" (with Ray J)||Cordes, Attrell Stephen||Big Bert||3:56|
Credits and personnel
- Executive producers: Rodney Jerkins, Craig Kallman, Brandy Norwood, Ron Shapiro
- Vocal producer: Brandy
- Vocal assistance: Ray-J, Joe Lewis Thomas, Michael Jackson
- Engineers: Jim Bottari, Stuart Brawley, Reginald Dozier, Jan Fairchild, Thor Laewe, Michael "Wolf" Reaves
- Assistant engineers: J.D. Andrew, Kenneth B. Hertz, Michael Huff, Marc Stephen Lee, Steve Robillard, Javier Valverde
- Mixing: Jon Gass, Brad Gilderman, Manny Marroquin, Dave Pensado, Dexter Simmons
- Mastering: Tom Coyne
- A&R: Andrew Feigenbaum, Craig Kallman, Brandy Norwood
- Design: Thomas Bricker
- Art Direction: Thomas Bricker
- Photography: Marc Baptiste
|Europe||February 25, 2002|
|Canada||March 5, 2002|
|France||March 26, 2002|
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