â€śWhat happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?â€ť
-- "Dream Deferredâ€ť by Langston Hughes
Much has been made over the past few years of Whitney Houstonâ€™s bold statement that her husband, New Edition founding member and solo star Bobby Brown, is â€śthe king of R&Bâ€ť.
As of 1993, Bobby Brown has only released four CDs of original material. His star fell quickly after his second solo album Donâ€™t Be Cruel made him a household name at age 19. Whitney Houstonâ€™s assertion is incorrect, but she hints at something I believe to be true: Bobby Brown could have become the king of R&B.
Bobby Brown is one of the last great singers in the soul tradition of Wilson Pickett and James Brown. There is a raw passion to his voice that is enduring to his fans. He sounds like a person who is in touch with his passion and his pain. He is a young man who has been through it and survived. And despite his longstanding interest in hip-hop, he continues to sing.
Bobby Brown had the one thing that his cohorts in New Edition lacked: star power. He proclaimed himself to be the King of Stage and took pride in his (sometimes controversial) concert performances. He had courage. He had a distinct identity. His decision to leave New Edition was bold. Who could have predicted the voice behind the chorus in â€śMr. Telephone Manâ€ť would become a superstar? Wasnâ€™t it lead singer Ralph Tresvant who was primed to follow in the footsteps of Michael Jackson? In terms of CD sales, Ralph has had the least successful solo career of any group member, while Bobby, the first (and most recent) member to leave the group, stole the show.