“Brandy is no longer with Atlantic Records,” the label’s publicity assistant informed me after I inquired about the artist’s new greatest hits compilation The Best of Brandy. It turns out the project was being handled by Warner Strategic Marketing, the Warner Music Group think-tank that specializes in getting you to buy CDs you probably don’t really need, and Atlantic’s hands-off approach (and ignorance to the existence of the new record) seemed to be par for the course. After botching the promotion of her last studio album, the extraordinarily personal, often heart-wrenching Afrodisiac, the label dropped Brandy, effectively cutting the album’s shelf-life short. It’s a shame that an R&B album inspired by such a disparate array of sources (from samples of Iron Maiden, Hans Zimmer, Janis Ian, and, most notably, Coldplay) is represented on The Best Of solely by its two singles, “Talk About Our Love” and “Who Is She 2 U,” produced by Kanye West and Timbaland, respectively. Ditto for her 2002 release Full Moon, which spawned the Top 10 hit “What About Us?” and the title track. It’s true, however, that the bulk of Brandy’s success came from her first two releases, particularly 1998’s Never Say Never, which featured the singles “Angel In Disguise,” “Top Of The World,” and the #1 hits “The Boy Is Mine” with Monica and the Diane Warren ballad “Have You Ever?” The collection is capped off with non-album tracks like the #2 hit “Sittin’ Up In My Room” and covers of Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” and Phil Collins’s “Another Day In Paradise,” which, though it’s not exactly a labor of love for Brandy’s longtime label home, makes The Best Of a must-have for the hardest-core Moesha fans.
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