Brandy Grown Up

By Clay Cane

Originally published on Advocate.com December 12 2008 12:00 AM ET

Now 29, former
R&B princess Brandy just released her fifth studio
album, Human, which has already garnered a
number 1 single on the Billboard Hot Dance chart with
“Right Here (Departed).” The Cali gal
who once insisted “The Boy Is Mine” pours her
soul into her latest effort, managing to find the edge in
R&B-pop. But despite a rough couple of years --
including a car accident that left one woman dead;
Brandy was cleared of any fault -- the singer and
onetime TV star hasn’t forgotten how to have a
good time. Here, Brandy chats about her gay fans, her
Moesha costar, Diana Ross, and even that
hair-pulling incident with Barbara Walters.

Advocate.com:Your new album is called Human. I’ve heard
many artists say that their record label or the
media doesn't allow them to be human. Do you feel
like you’ve had that pressure?
Brandy: I have. Just growing up in this
industry with an image that was such the "good girl" image,
I felt pressure because I didn’t feel like I
was able to make a lot of mistakes or learn from my
mistakes without people judging. It is hard to be a
role model in this industry, but this is my responsibility.
I’m here to make good music. I’m here to
be an inspiration, but I want people to know at the
end of the day, I’m going to make mistakes.
I’m a human being, but I am responsible as
well.

The album sounds very fresh, but still has that
signature Brandy sound. What has kept you committed to
your sound in an era of passing musical fads?
As an artist, I just remain true to myself. I go
with how I feel. Creativity is something that is very
spontaneous. I try to go along with it and not resist.
With faith and a belief that I am able to be me and
not worry about whatever else is going on. It’s my
own music, it’s my own sound. I try to stay
true to that.

Your first single, “Right Here (Departed),”
hit number 1 on the Billboard Hot Dance chart. How
did that song come about?
It was the first song that reunited Rodney
Jerkins and I back together. When I first heard the
song I felt like the lyrics just really described
everything I felt in the last couple years of my life.
Having people that I could depend on through a tough
time and also just being there for them when they
needed me. I just know that everybody needs somebody. I felt
like it was an appropriate song to come back with and
basically be an inspiration to everybody.
That’s a song that everybody can relate to.

 BRANDY 02 x390 (publicity) | ADVOCATE.COM

What about Human do you think your gay fans
will relate to?
The topics on the album, I feel like everyone
has experienced what I’m talking about.
We’ve all put on a mask for love, for people to
accept us, for people to embrace us -- we change for
that to happen. On the song
“Camouflage,” you don’t have to put on
a front for love. You can just be yourself and it
doesn’t matter who thinks what about you. It’s
really about you being comfortable with yourself and
finding that person in your life that’s going
to accept that. Another song is called “Torn
Down,” it’s about having a love so
strong, no matter who you are, no matter who comes
around you or what they say, it can’t be torn down. I
just think the album as a whole is a reflection of who
we all are as human beings. We go through the same
exact things; emotions feel the same to me as they
feel to you. At the end of the day, we’re all the
same.

How important is it to you to have a gay fan base? Two of my best friends are gay and what I love
about them is that they always keep it real. They are
better girls than I am! [Laughs] They keep me
on my toes: You have to always look good when you go out!
You never let people see you sweat! You have to be on it at
all times! They always keep me hot -- I love that
about them!

A lot of my fans
are gay; they seem to be like the only ones that come
out to my shows and support me. I was just on BET’s
106 & Park and all of the fans that had
the album and the picture taking, they were all my gay
fans. I’m like, this is what I’m talking
about! Y'all need to get the girls involved, the guys
involved! Get everyone involved, but they were the
ones to come out and support me. I think my gay fans are
very, very loyal, and I really respect them for that. They
stick with you through it all. If you are going
through an uptime or a downtime, they’re there.

In '90s R&B, it was all about you, Monica, and
Aaliyah. Can you give us some reflections on the late,
great Aaliyah?
I think Aaliyah was an incredible artist. This
is one artist who stayed true to who she was. She had
her own style, her own vibe. She was just amazing. She
actually was the artist to start it off for me. She started
the whole era of young girls coming out. I was inspired by
Aaliyah and I was a little bit nervous to come out
because she was so popular and incredible. I just
didn’t know if I had a place at the time. Of course,
I came out and we were able to meet, support each
other, and do shows together. I just really miss her
-- wow. I just love her so much. I actually did a
couple tributes to her on the Afrodisiac album
because I worked with Timbaland and she was the first
person to pretty much put Timbaland on the map. So, I
respect her always -- always, always.

You also starred in the movie Double Platinum with
Miss Diana Ross, who is a big gay icon. Are you
still in contact with Miss Ross?
I haven’t spoken to her in a long time.
It’s long overdue because I want to do a remake
of Lady Sings the Blues. I want her to show me
the ropes. She is such a great role model to look up to. I
really hope I’m as great as her when I get [to be]
her age.

 

A longstanding rumor is that on the set of your
television series Moesha, you and your costar
Countess Vaughn were feuding. Was there any truth to that?
You know how it is -- you’re growing up,
you’re a teenager, you get into a little this
and that. If it was any feuding it was just that we
were teenagers. That was it, nothing real dramatic. Our
chemistry on-camera was incredible, so it
couldn’t have been that much feuding going on.
But you know how it is, families fight sometimes and you say
things you don’t mean. If it was anything, it was
that. It wasn’t like I didn’t like
Countess or didn’t support her or any of that -- the
same with her for me.

When are fans going to get a tour? 2009.

Early 2009? Maybe later 2009, because I want it to be right.

When you were on The View in mid 2007,
Barbara Walters pulled your hair and asked if it
was real. Some people were really offended and it was
all over the Internet. Did that make you feel uncomfortable?
It did -- of course it made me feel
uncomfortable. No one’s ever really asked that
question to me, especially on live television. I think some
things are just inappropriate, but I don’t think she
meant anything by it. You know what I mean? I
don’t think she was trying to be rude in any
type of way. Maybe she just really liked it and just wanted
to know if it was real because it looked so good --
you never know! I played it off; I just don’t
think that she knew. She didn’t really mean anything
by it. I hope not.

You did play it off, but some folks were offended. I don’t know -- how do you think she came
off? Do you think she came off like she was being
rude? I mean, is she always like that? [Laughs]
I’ve never really seen her with anyone else.

She came off a little too curious. In my opinion,
it was weird. By the way, is there any chance we will
ever get a sequel of “The Boy Is
Mine” from you and Monica -- maybe called
“The Man Is Mine”?
No! No! We’re not going to fight over
another guy. We’re too old for that!
[Laughs]

Have you talked to Monica recently? I haven’t, it’s been awhile. I
tried to reach out to her, but her number was changed.
Stop changing your number, girl!

For the record, if you and Monica were ever in a
fight, who do you think would win?
Oh, my goodness! I’m not going to answer
that!

A playful fight! I don’t know! [Laughs] Monica
probably…

Monica seems like she could throw a punch. Monica would probably win! [Laughs]