Dungeon Family native and familiar voice behind just about every soulful Outkast hook not done by Andre 3000, Sleepy Brown finally sees release after sitting in major label limbo for the past couple of years. Having his earlier material leaked way before it was ready for release killed Brown’s Universal debut, but thanks to the folks at Virgin, he’s found a new home, delivering a new album, Mr. Brown.
Mr. Brown packs the same sexy swagger found on one of Outkast’s most recognizable hits, “The Way You Move”, which was a breakout moment for Sleepy (despite the fact that he’s been around since “Player’s Ball”). The same type of crossover appeal is found here again on “Come Dance With Me”, yet this is hardly the best track on the album. More inspiring for the dancefloor is actually the beach cabana anthem, “Margarita”, which is driven home by a show-stealing Pharrell, plus guest verses from Big Boi.
But crossover appeal is not what makes Mr. Brown a good record; its strengths actually lie in the deeper album cuts. The Teddy Pendergrass sampled “I’m Soul” finds Sleepy seducing female listeners with hypnotic, breezy vocals over the classic, chopped groove. There’s a certain brand of familiarity also to “One Of Dem Nights”, but the more obscure samples found on both “Me and My Baby & My Cadillac” and “I Can’t Wait” lend to some of the album’s most catchy tracks, despite the fact neither garnered significant radio play as singles.
However Sleepy’s got it locked in terms of wooing the ladies with his brand of southern soul. The sultry “Dress Up” will have his targets in fact undressing, while back to back “pre” and “post” love jams “Till Your Legs Start Shaking” and “Sunday Morning” help seal the deal.
At 13 tracks, there’s little room for error, but he does misstep on the trashy “Get 2 It”, where he confesses “I want to beat it up, girl, beat it up all night!”. Meanwhile, “Underwater Love” drowns itself out in experimentation, while the screwed-up “Oh Ho Hum” more or less lives up to its title.
Mr. Brown is no classic soul record, but definitely packs consistency. Organized Noize’s wall-to-wall production helps deliver a unified sound, carrying on the Dungeon Family tradition. If Sleepy continues crooning out those hooks for Big Boi, and follows this up with a more tightly knit, mature effort, eventually the fans will surely come running and screaming after him.
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