Bobby Brown at Jazz in the Gardens

Right now, if we were to play a game of pop-culture free association beginning with the ever-infamous name Bobby Brown, our minds would probably wander off in the following direction: Whitney Houston, cocaine, reality TV. But there was a time, circa 1989 (an era of Brown's life also known as pre-Whitney), when the ex-New Edition member and King of New Jack Swing possessed a certain kind of pure, untouchable fame. Sure, Bobby was bad. He was even diabolical. But his name still hadn't been tainted and twisted by nonstop tabloid scrutiny, the machinations of the 24-hour celebrity news cycle, and dangerous, self-destructive craziness. In other words, as the '90s hit, Brown was so damned fly that he could rock a flattop, Malcolm X glasses, and a leather body suit without anyone even daring to hate on him. He could release a single called "Humpin' Around" and watch it scream toward the top of the Billboard Hot 100. And now, 42 years old, divorced from Whitney, and nearly two decades away from his last true chart-killer, Brown is just as diabolical as ever. Although the '80s may be over, Brown is still here. As he growls on his new single "Get Out the Way," off his upcoming, decade-in-progress album titled The Masterpiece: "The trend is over/I'm everlasting, never fading/Not trippin' on what they're sayin'/No, 'cause that shit don't apply to me!"


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