Having enjoyed platinum record sales, sold-out concerts with adoring fans chanting his name, phenomenal success internationally and throughout his 25-year career, Bobby Brown is the definition of a bona fide superstar. He is also recognised as a former member of New Edition, one of the biggest boybands during the late 80s and, of course, for launching his own solo career. In 1988, he released his second album Don’t Be Cruel, which sold over six million copies and even spawned the chart-topping single ‘My Prerogative’. The album made its debut on the Billboard charts at No1, making him the first teenager, at just 19, to record a No1 album since Stevie Wonder in 1963. He seemed to have had it all – a 14-year marriage to Whitney Houston, his famed ‘gumby’ haircut and worldwide popularity as one of the hottest R&B stars.
Now Bobby Brown speaks exclusively to Flavour about his very long-awaited fifth album, being clean from drugs and his former wife…
What are the most memorable moments from your career?
I have had some of my greatest moments and times in the UK, playing sold-out shows at Wembley, as well as entertaining lots of people and also touching their hearts with my music.
Tell us about your ‘reincarnation’, what can we expect from you?
My new album [The Masterpiece] represents the new Bobby. This is the Bobby that my mother raised and who people expect to be different. When I came with ‘Don’t Be Cruel’, it was something unusual for people to relate to – but right now I’m looking forward to people in Europe and the UK hearing this new album.
You’re six years sober from drugs and alcohol – how does that feel?
I went through so many things, and I’m just grateful that God has given me a second chance. I have been clean for six years now and I just feel wonderful that everything in my life is going in the right direction. I recently lost my mother and I know before she passed away she was proud of me. I have everything to live for as there are so many things I would still like to do.
Your removal from New Edition has come full circle with an upcoming reunion – tell us more.
I was actually put out the group because I had a different mind and way of performing, which helped me in the end with my own career. I also had aspirations to do different types of music, which they understood. It didn’t work out with New Edition at the time, but I am grateful I was able to pick myself back up and do what I had to do. The thing about business and friendship is they really don’t mix well in this industry. We had to learn how to be friends again, but we’re all in contact now and looking forward to our reunion and tour this summer.
How do you feel about Whitney Houston’s return to rehab?
I haven’t spoken to her yet, but Whitney is a great person and a strong woman, so I expect the best from her. I wish her all of my love and all the greatness that she is; I just wish her the best.
And what about the rumour that Bin Laden wanted to kill you to be with Whiney Houston?!
I heard about that rumour… [Laughs] I’m glad he’s gone.
What’s your new single ‘Get Out The Way’ about?
It’s a song that speaks about how this industry is, as there will be times when people are with you and are not with you; but you have to be with yourself as some people won’t be there with you at your time of need. You have to stand strong and be true to yourself – ‘Get Out The Way’ is about me coming back and letting people know I’ve been through the ups and downs, trials and tribulations and hard times, but I am still standing.
Your new album is The Masterpiece – so is it?
I have so many different sounds on this new album, but for the most part it’s just Bobby! It’s what you expect from a person and entertainer like me as there’s a lot of funk, dance, country, rock’n’roll, R&B and jazz, which to me is probably some of my greatest work. I have been recording the album for the last 10 years and I’m still not finished with it, but when it comes, it will be a masterpiece because God has built this masterpiece within me. I am definitely living proof anybody can survive drugs and alcohol. This album in a way has helped me heal myself.
If you had a second chance to relive the past, would you take it?
I think what I’ve gone through in my life and in the past has made me the man I am right now. I am really proud of the man I am, so I don’t think I would change anything because it has brought me to today. Any man who has been through what I have and lived through it, you can’t regret anything that you’ve done.
Single ‘Get Out The Way’ is out now and look out for new album The Masterpiece
Follow Bobby Brown on Twitter @KingBobbyBrown
Interview by Noel Phillips