For this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I decided to visit the Buckeye State and pay homage to The Rude Boys. The Cleveland-based quartet consisted of Larry Marcus, Melvin Sephus, Edward Lee “Buddy” Banks, and Joe Little III. Initially breaking onto the scene in 1990 with the hits “Written All Over Your Face” and “Are You Lonely For Me” from their debut, they wasted no time returning to the studio.
Second Listen Sunday : Brutha, Brutha
The Jacksons, The Sylvers, and The Winans are some of the names that come to mind when you use family names in black music. In 2008, Def Jam was hopeful that Harrell, another family name, would transition to success. Grady, Anthony, Jared, Cheyenne, and Jacob were Collectively known as Brutha, and their self-titled debut is this week’s pick for Second Listen Sunday.
Before releasing the album, the group appeared on a reality show BET titled Brothers to Brutha, highlighting their debut album’s making. The group had been grinding for years, with Anthony being the most active, providing the singing voice for a young Michael Jackson in The Jacksons: An American Dream and acting stints on Saved By The Bell: The New Class and Kids. He incorporated both of which displayed his singing talent.
The album’s debut single is an up-tempo track titled “I Can’t Hear The Music” featuring a Hot 16 by Fabolous. The song’s lyrics are straightforward, expressing the feeling of being so captivated by a dance partner’s beauty that you don’t hear the music you’re dancing to. It celebrates the joy of love and togetherness. The song’s catchy hook and dynamic performance make it an outstanding debut single that still resonates with listeners today.
For the second single, the group went the ballad route in the form of “She’s Gone.” Here the group explores the aftermath of a failed relationship, with lead vocalist Anthony crooning of the regret of his partner leaving. The lyrics convey a sense of heartbreak and self-reflection that we can all relate to when lacking back on why a good relationship failed.
Due to the album’s underperformance, there wasn’t a third single. However, there were a few potential winners on the album. One of the modern R&B songwriting greats, Ne-Yo, blessed the group with a fire slow jam in the form of “Set It Off,” which sets the mood. The smooth production, layered with lush synths and subtle percussion, creates an atmospheric backdrop that perfectly complements the seductive lyrics.
While I give Brutha credit for their ability to switch between heartfelt ballads and more upbeat tracks, the album basks in consistent quality. Like many group debuts, a slight drawback is the occasional lack of lyrical depth, often relying on tried and tested topics of love. However, the sibling’s compelling performances and genuine emotion infused into their vocals compensate for this minor limitation.
To date, this album is the group’s only mainstream release as the members decided to focus on solo projects. Nevertheless, this was a solid debut for a group that had potential.
Final Grade: B
Brutha is available on all streaming platforms
More reviews to explorer
Valentine’s Day 2024 may have come and gone, but I still plan to use highlight songs with the V-word for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. The artist I chose is a southern gentleman by the name of Lloyd. Initially breaking onto the scene as a member of the preteen-boy band N-Toon, Lloyd’s solo career kicked off in 2004 with the hit “Southside.”
As we continue to celebrate the month of love, I chose “Valentine by Ryan Leslie as the second song with the word valentine for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. Leslie broke into the music industry in 2003, writing hits for Beyoncé and New Edition. Leslie released the singles “The Way That U Move Girl” and “Used 2 Be” featuring Fabolous. However, his debut album was never officially released due to creative differences with his record label. In late 2007, Leslie finally broke through with the bop “Diamond Girl,” and his self-titled album would finally hit record stores on February 10, 2009. Leslie also succeeded with the follow-up singles “Addiction” and “How It Was Supposed to Be.” Surprisingly, though, Leslie didn’t drop “Valentine” as the fourth single, which would have timed perfectly with the album release date.