There’s a lot of history between Bobby Brown and Babyface. In 1986, Bobby was on top of the world. He had just parted ways with New Edition and released his solo debut, King of Stage under MCA Records. In 1987, Bobby began working on his second album, Don’t Be Cruel, with two young R&B songwriters and producers, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Antonio “L.A.” Reid. Unbeknownst to the general public, he wasn’t really feeling them. We found out a little bit more about this during part one of BET’s The Bobby Brown Story. In the film, we see that Bobby Brown wants an edgier approach to music. He’s introduced to Babyface and L.A. Reid and is instantly skeptical. Their appearance nor their catalog really fit the energy Bobby was trying to achieve.
Baby Face and L.A. Reid were fairly new to the scene and although they’ve reached some success of their own, Bobby Brown was skeptical that they’d be able to bring the level of success he was looking for. In fact, according to Babyface, as they worked on “Don’t Be Cruel”, the album’s lead single, he admits that Bobby Brown absolutely hated it.
We spoke exclusively to Babyface who told us about his first time meeting Bobby Brown in the studio.
“I think ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ might’ve been the first song we did,” said Babyface. “We were just trying to learn each other at that particular point. He didn’t love the song so it wasn’t like he was really into it. It took a little more work to get it done, I think. We got that one done and as other songs started to come in, I think he liked the other songs a little bit better.”
According to The Bobby Brown Story, Bobby was very adamant about working with Teddy Riley, and he did for his new jack swing laced second single “My Prerogative.” The track went on to earn Bobby his first number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and become the second-biggest single of 1989. In the end, all five singles from the Don’t Be Cruel album also reached the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. Babyface wrote and/or produced 6 of the 11 songs on the album.
Check out the rest of our exclusive interview with Bobby Brown up top! Don’t forget to watch the conclusion of The Bobby Brown Story tonight on BET.