5 Takeaways from Brandy’s Full Moon Era
16 years ago, Brandy released her much-anticipated third album, Full Moon. During the time of the album’s release, the McComb, Miss-born singer-songwriter was at a turning point in her career. She was making the transition from bubblegum R&B star to adult-oriented urban soul music. Much like her fellow teen stars of the 90s’ such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, Brandy felt trapped by her image and wanted to shed her girl-next-door image for a “declaration of independence” a la Janet Jackson Control.
After making one of the most critically acclaimed R&B albums of the 90’s decade with Never Say Never with Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins (who would go on to work with the likes of Destiny’s Child and Michael Jackson), Brandy went back in the studio in late 2000, coming out with Full Moon in the spring of 2002. The album was a true testament to Brandy’s growth as a young woman coming into her own, not just as an artist and vocalist but also someone who was resilient. Here are some the most prominent takeaways from the Full Moon-era.
The New Musical Sound
One of the most significant things about Brandy's 2002 LP Full Moon was how different the album was musically in comparison to other R&B releases at the time. The then 22-year-old singer returned to the studio with Rodney 'Darkchild' Jerkins and Keith Crouch who both worked with the former Moesha star to craft what would be some of the biggest R&B hits of the 1990s as apart of her first two albums, Brandy and Never Say Never.
However, she also brought on Big Bert, Mike City and Warryn Campbell (husband of Mary Mary singer Erica Campbell) who work on tracks like the love-making confessional "When You Touch Me," the magical melodic number "Full Moon" and the tender gospel ballad, "He Is." Rodney Jerkins incorporated a lot of sounds from the United Kingdom that many have heard on albums by the likes of UK urban artists such as Craig David and Mis-Teeq including 2-step, UK garage, funktronica, and electro.
2. Her Shocking Revelation on ABC’s 20/20
One of the most prevalent topics in today's world that wasn't talked about in the late '90s and early 00s was self-care, mental health and seeking therapy. Although Brandy broke barriers for black girls in both the music & entertainment industry before the age of 21 as one of the busiest celebrities, she also one of the most overworked ones as well. In promotion of her third album Full Moon, Brandy did an interview with Juju Chang on ABC's news program 20/20 in the fall of 2002 where she admitted she suffered from stress, self-esteem, and an eating disorder that led to a hospitalization in 1999 and a hiatus from music, respectively.
The ‘I Wanna Be Down’-singer would eventually her main focus onto her sitcom Moesha until the cancellation in the spring of 2001. After the show ended, Brandy talked about being able to go back to her first love which was music and started revamping her image and persona, now that she was a young adult.
3. A New Image
One major challenge for child stars in the music or entertainment industry in being able to transition to an adult star without alienating the fans who played a crucial part in their initial success. When Brandy first came to prominence in 1994, she had her own distinct image compared to other young female R&B acts at the time. While critics dubbed Aaliyah as the princess of R&B with her risque lyrics (albeit she was 15 at the time) and Monica as the hood girl with confidence and street-smart lyrics, Brandy was known for her raspy voice (that was likened to Janet and Mary) and puppy song lyrics.
Brandy also became known for her signature box braids, kid-friendly tomboy-ish looks, and a family household appeal with her sitcom Moesha and a starring role as Cinderella in the 1997 ABC television movie. For the third album that she began recording at the age of 21, Brandy let go of her past image to successfully present a new full-fledged one to her fans. No longer did she wear the signature box braids and carry the girl-next-door image, the Have You Ever-singer came back to music swinging in 2002 with long, sleek straight hair with heavy makeup, adding on a sultry & edgy mannerisms to her music on songs like “Like This” and “Come A Little Closer.”
4. Undeniable Bops
Although Brandy wasn’t able to capitalize off the success of Full Moon as much (most likely due to her pregnancy with her first child), the platinum-selling album produced two memorable singles: “What About Us” and “Full Moon.” The electro-tech heavy track brought the Grammy-winning artist back to the pop charts peaking at No. 7 (No. 3 on R&B) on top of reaching the top 10 and top 20 of several countries throughout Europe. Meanwhile, her second single that carried a love-at-first-sight attitude to its lyrics back by a piano-led beat on the hook peaked at No. 18 on the Hot 100, ending up it’s 2002 year-end list at No. 40.
5. The Album’s Subsequent Legacy
Overall, it can be said that Full Moon was underrated at the time of its release. Although the 2002 effort topped the R&B charts (and peaked at No. 2 on Pop) and went platinum, the sales didn’t match up to the Carson-native first two albums that combined total of 22 million copies. Despite, the dip in sales, the album did earn Brandy her 11th Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary R&B Album and has been highly cited as an influence among today’s artists such as Keisha Chante, Luke James, Melanie Fiona, and India.Arie. The Never Say Never singer, who fans have coined as the “Vocal Bible” even sat down with Spotify’s Chad Foster in 2017 to discuss the making of the album.
Revisit the album below!