Mr. Brown

Sleepy Brown

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Mr. Brown Review

by Andy Kellman

Singer, keyboardist, and producer Sleepy Brown has had many outlets throughout the past 15 years. One-third of the long-running and accomplished Organized Noize production crew (OutKast, Goodie Mob, TLC), he has been central to a number of short-lived and one-off projects -- including Society of Soul, Sleepy's Theme, and Dungeon Family -- and became more visible than ever when OutKast's "The Way You Move," featuring his hypnotizing voice on the hook, escalated to the top of just about every singles chart in 2004. However, he has run into some walls when attempting to go on his own: a solo album for DreamWorks was shelved during a shake-up with Interscope, and even if it had been released on time, it would've seemed a couple years late. With "Can't Wait," from 2004's Barbershop 2 soundtrack, he finally attained a solo hit, but most people continue to associate the song with OutKast since it involved both Big Boi and André 3000. Mr. Brown, his first full-fledged solo work, is unsurprisingly framed around his laid-back persona, a mixture of a lechery-prone Curtis Mayfield and I Want You-era Marvin Gaye with the imagery of Hot Buttered Soul-era Isaac Hayes. The frustrating thing? When Brown's space becomes crowded with guests -- as on "Margarita," with Pharrell and Big Boi -- one wishes he'd kick them out and do his thing. And, during the extended patches where his voice is the only one heard, something seems missing. Brown has everything required to play the role of the consummate solo artist, yet it's possible that he's so accustomed to collaborating and feeding off the energy of others that he can't quite fully deliver. Even so, most of the album is enjoyable and worthy of relaxed, party-enhancing replays. Given Brown's talents, it could have been much more. Hopefully a smart label will grant him two or three more shots at making the kind of album that lives up to the greatness of his collaborative output.

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