Music Review: ‘Brandy & Ray J: A Family Business’
Thursday, July 7, 2011
‘Brandy & Ray J: A Family Business’ Various artists. Saguaro.
Rarely is talent spread evenly over a family, a point brought home on the new release “Brandy & Ray J: A Family Business.”
The music compilation, an offshoot of the VH1 reality show of the same name, features songs by Brandy, her younger brother Ray J and others.
Apart from a way-too-extended theme-song opener featuring the siblings and their parents, vocal coach Willie Norwood Jr. and manager/mom Sonja Norwood, the only collaborative effort is “Talk To Me,” featuring the siblings and Dad, a generic slow song that degenerates into a wail-off among the three singers.
Brandy’s better than that, which she proves on her two other performances – “I Don’t Care,” a modern hip-hop slow-burner in which she winds up and spins out of the formulaic trappings, and “Lifeguard,” a grainy techno-pop slice of infectious confection.
Although Ray J doesn’t add anything to his two tracks, “Turnin’ Me On” and “Ready to Roll,” he at least disappears into the polished mix.
Then there’s the father: Norwood makes for a double dose of painful listening, first in the syrupy/sketchy would-be romance of “Sonja, Sonia, Sonya” and then in the wince-worthy faux-soul of “Homegrown.”
And if Dad’s free ride isn’t enough to make listeners uncomfortable, there’s a ridiculously cutesy “My Family” by Brandy’s 8-year-old daughter, Sy’rai, and her daughter’s half-sister, Rain Smith. The heavily modulated song is hokey enough to prompt eye rolls from the king and queen of nepotism, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.
The collection is rounded out with a melodramatic “Gone” by Tasha Scott (a family friend and signee to Ray J’s entertainment company) and a superfluous closing dialogue by non-singing mom Sonja Norwood.
Overall, the collection is serviceable, if gratuitous, and notable only for possibly generating interest in a new Brandy album.
– CHUCK CAMPBELL, Scripps Howard News Service
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