Don't Be Cruel (album)

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Don't Be Cruel
Studio album by Bobby Brown
Released June 20, 1988
Recorded October 1987–April 1988
Genre New jack swing[1]
Length 47:08
Label MCA Records
Producer Louil Silas, Jr. (ex.)
Babyface, L. A. Reid, Gene Griffin, Bobby Brown, Larry White
Bobby Brown chronology
King of Stage
Don't Be Cruel
Dance!...Ya Know It!
Singles from Don't Be Cruel
  1. "Don't Be Cruel"
    Released: May 16, 1988
  2. "My Prerogative"
    Released: October 11, 1988
  3. "Roni"
    Released: December 27, 1988
  4. "Every Little Step"
    Released: March 9, 1989
  5. "Rock Wit'cha"
    Released: August 15, 1989
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[2]
Robert Christgau B+[3]

Don't Be Cruel is the second album by American R&B singer Bobby Brown. It was released in the United States on June 20, 1988 by MCA Records.

The album was far more successful than Brown's debut, peaking at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart and spawning 5 Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 singles, including Brown's very first #1, "My Prerogative". It spent a total of six weeks on top of the Billboard 200 and was the best-selling album of 1989 in the United States. The album also reached the Top 5 in the United Kingdom and Australia.

Don't Be Cruel received extremely positive reviews from music critics.[1] Brown also won his first Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance at the 1990 Grammy Awards for "Every Little Step".

The album has been certified 7 x Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of over 7 million units in the United States.[4]


Brown changed producers for this album, and worked extensively with hit-making songwriting/production duo Babyface and L.A. Reid. Alex Henderson of Allmusic writes

Commercial Performance[edit]

Don't Be Cruel debuted at #74 on the Billboard 200 on July 23, 1988. It wasn't until six months later that the album reached #1, starting a six-week non-consecutive run at #1, from January 21, 1989 - February 4, 1989 and February 18, 1989 - March 4, 1989. Its reign at number one was interrupted for one week by Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction.

The album also spent a total of 11 non-consecutive weeks atop the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart over the course of 1988 and 1989. It spent an eight-week non-consecutive run at #1 from September–November 1988, and then remarkably returned to #1 four months later in Match 1989.

Don't Be Cruel was the best selling album of 1989 in the United States, and finished #1 on the Billboard Year-End album chart.[6]


All five singles released from the album reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. "Don't Be Cruel" was released as the lead single. The second single, "My Prerogative" earn Brown his first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. "My Prerogative" was also the second-biggest single of 1989, finishing at #2 on the Year-End Billboard Hot 100 Singles of 1989. Three of the singles also reached #1 on Billboard's Hot R&B Songs chart.

Year Single Chart positions[7]
1988 "Don't Be Cruel" 8 1
"My Prerogative" 1 1
1989 "Roni" 3 2
"Every Little Step" 3 1
"Rock Wit'cha" 7 3

All singles have been certified Gold by the RIAA.[4]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Cruel Prelude"   Babyface, LA Reid Babyface, LA Reid 0:39
2. "Don't Be Cruel"   Babyface, LA Reid, Daryl Simmons Babyface, LA Reid 6:52
3. "My Prerogative"   Bobby Brown, Gene Griffin Gene Griffin, Bobby Brown (co.) 4:51
4. "Roni"   Babyface Babyface, LA Reid 5:58
5. "Rock Wit'Cha"   Babyface, LA Reid Babyface, LA Reid 4:49
6. "Every Little Step"   Babyface, LA Reid Babyface, LA Reid 3:57
7. "I'll Be Good to You"   Bobby Brown, Gene Griffin Gene Griffin, Bobby Brown (co.) 4:25
8. "Take It Slow"   Jay Logan, Lee Peters, Larry White Larry White 5:22
9. "All Day All Night"   Dennis Wadington, DeWayne Sweet, Larry White, Lee Peters Larry White 4:40
10. "I Really Love You Girl"   Bobby Brown, Gordon Jones Gene Griffin, Bobby Brown (co.) 5:11
11. "Cruel Reprise"   Babyface, LA Reid Babyface, LA Reid 0:18
Total length:

Charts and certifications[edit]

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1989) Position
U.S. Billboard 200 1

Chart procession[edit]

Preceded by
Giving You the Best That I Got by Anita Baker
Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses
U.S. Billboard 200 number-one album
January 21, 1989 – February 4, 1989
February 18, 1989 – March 4, 1989
Succeeded by
Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses
Electric Youth by Debbie Gibson
Preceded by
Strictly Business by EPMD
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Public Enemy
Don't Let Love Slip Away by Freddie Jackson
Karyn White by Karyn White
U.S. Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums number-one album
September 10, 1988 – September 17, 1988
October 1, 1988 - October 8, 1988
October 22, 1988 - November 12, 1988
March 18, 1989 - April 1, 1989
Succeeded by
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Public Enemy
Don't Let Love Slip Away by Freddie Jackson
Giving You the Best That I Got by Anita Baker
Let's Get It Started by MC Hammer


Credits adapted from Allmusic.[10]


  • Drums, Percussion: Richard Aguon, Dewayne Sweet, Larry White
  • Drum Programming: Markell Riley
  • Bass: Kirk Crumpler, Larry White
  • Synthesized Bass: Dewayne Sweet, Kirk Crumpler
  • Keyboards: Larry White, Dewayne Sweet, Percy Scott, Teddy Riley, Ben Rayes, Kirk Crumpler
  • Guitars: Larry White, Emilio Conesa
  • Saxophone: Melecio Magdaluyo
  • Finger Snaps: Tommy Brown


  • Producers: Babyface, Bobby Brown, Gene Griffin, Gordon Jones, Larry White
  • Mixing: Larry White, Teddy Riley, Dennis Mitchell, Jon Gass, Michael Denton, Babyface
  • Engineering: Babyface, Michael Denton, Jon Gass, Mitch Gibson, John Guggenheim, Fred Howard, Howard Johnston, K2, Ruben Laxamana, Dennis Mitchell, Mark Slagle, Larry White
  • Mastering: Steve Hall


See also[edit]