Never Say Never: 20 Years After the Release of Brandy’s Successful Sophomore Album

Never Say Never album cover art

Brandy, righteously a.k.a. “The Vocal Bible,” solidified her spot as a popular figure in 90s pop culture, not only as the spunky, intelligent and independent lead character Moesha Mitchell, in the family sitcom “Moesha,” but more effectively through her delivery of relatable and rhythmic music. 

Her debut album, “Brandy,” introduced us to the melodic sounds and extravagant use of runs and her head voice. The 15-year-old superstar on the rise, presented those vocal techniques effortlessly, through tracks such as “I Wanna Be Down,” “Baby,” and “Best Friend,” a track dedicated to the close relationship she shares with her baby brother, and also musician, Ray J. The album went to sell over six million copies, worldwide.

In just two days, it’ll be the 20-year mark of one of the singer’s most memorable bodies of work, “Never Say Never.” This album was a collection of perfectly developed and heartfelt lyricism, and a growing range within Brandy’s voice and maturity.

Brandy in a photoshoot for the Never Say Never era/ Photo by Reisig and Taylor

In it’s first week, “Never Say Never” sold over 163,000 copies, certifying it as her highest-selling album to date with 16 million sold worldwide, also earning her a Grammy and a no.1 single, which sat pretty for 13 consecutive weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.

For this “Throwback Thursday,” we’ll be taking it back to the highlights of one the most notable vocalists of our generation’s successful sophomore album, which has left an impact on today’s R&B, and those stepping into the field.

“The Boy is Mine” duet with Monica

 

Brandy and another one of our favorite R&B songstress, Monica, came head to head in an ode to “may the best women win,” for the lead single of NSN.

But it wasn’t the conflict or rival that made the song. It was the smooth intersection of these two different, but equally impactful voices coming together to create one of the greatest duets of all time, selling over 2.6 million copies in the U.S., with an iconic 13 weeks at no.1 on the charts.

“Have You Ever”

 

This beautiful and emotionally gravitated ballad, written by the brilliantly talented songwriter, Diana Warren, was the perfect description of what it felt like to be in love with someone from afar, who had no clue of your heart’s desires.

Brandy’s vocals over the slow jam, poured smooth like butter, and gave personally, one of the best tracks on the album. The video alone, was nominated for Best R&B Video at the 1999 MTV Movie awards, which Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing),” ended up taking the win.

“Top of the World” feat. Ma$e

 

Hip-Hop and R&B meshed together, as Brandy joined forces with Bad Boy rapper Ma$e, in this fun, up tempo vibe.

Produced by Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins and Brandy herself, the record brought to the forefront staying true to who you are and where you come from, even when you’re dreams start skyrocketing to bigger heights. It was tracks like these that made fans relate more to a 19-year-old Brandy at the time, and how at the end of the day, she’s just another teenager figuring it all out.

Almost Doesn’t Count”

 

Another personal fave, for its simplicity and the singer’s ability to bring a relaxed feel to a complicated situation, “Almost Doesn’t Count,” reached the top 20 in New Zealand, the UK and the Billboard Hot 100.

The record was also featured and performed by Brandy in the film “Double Platinum,” accompanied by “Have You Ever,” and where she shared the screen with legendary disco diva, Diana Ross.

“Angel in Disguise”

 

Brandy and Joe on the same song? Literal “music to the ears.”

Although it was just selective background vocals, it was one of the most important parts in the finishing product of this mysterious, techno inspired, and dipped in R&B record.

“Angel in Disguise,” was also Brandy’s first song to chart without being released as an actual single, or having a music video attached.

“(Everything I do) I Do It For You”

 

Originally performed by multi-talented, Canadian, singer-songwriter, Bryan Adams, and featured on two albums, the soundtrack for the 19991 film, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and also Adams’ sixth studio album, “Waking up the Neighbors,” Brandy decided to put her on twist on the 15 million copy sold major hit.

The singer’s cover, produced by David Foster, worked in the root of R&B and soul, as she transitioned the soft rock ballad, into an even sweeter love song.

Additional track listing

“Learn the Hard Way”

“U Don’t Know Me (Like U Used To)”

“Never Say Never”

“Truthfully”

“Put That on Everything”

“In the Car Interlude”

“Happy”

“One Voice”

“Tomorrow”

Diamond Jones

Jr. Editor Lifestlye/Entertainment Department

Diamond Jones, 21, is a St.Louis native, born on the west side of Detroit. She is currently a junior, studying Journalism, with a minor in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Her writing reaches to audiences everywhere, directing it toward the empowerement and excellence of black people and their accomplishments. She has written for The Daily Egyptian, LoveThisTrackTV, Georgia State’s The Signal and the National Association of Black Journalists, which she is a dedicated member of. She hopes to continue to inspire those through her words and make those who feel underrepresented, see their light.