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Brandy Grown Up

Brandy Grown Up


Despite a rough couple of years, onetime R&B princess Brandy is holding her head high on her new album Human. Though gay fans would probably line the block for a sequel of "The Boy Is Mine" with former duet buddy Monica, don't hold your breath -- Brandy, now 29, says, "We're too old for that."

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. 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.

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]

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