Artist: Sleepy BrownTitle: Mr. BrownRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Alex Thornton
Sometimes called "the third member of Outkast," Sleepy Brown is perhaps the best known solo artist to never have released a solo album. Not only has the world heard his voice frequently on hits like Big Boi's "The Way You Move," his song-writing and production skills have been featured on Dungeon Family work from Outkast and Goodie Mob as well as on chart-toppers like TLC's "Waterfalls." Sleepy Brown has indeed been a busy man, and with Mr. Brown (Purple Ribbon/Virgin), he finally takes some time to put in work for himself.
"I'm Soul" may not have been the best opener for the album as the monotonous structure wears thin by the end of the nearly six minute track, but any worries melt away quickly with the lead single, "Margarita," a relaxed summer jam assisted by Big Boi and Pharrell. As Brown continues on with the captivating "Dress Up" to the thick and sticky "Underwater Love," the playalistic sexiness appeals to grown folks without catering to old folks. "Come Dance With Me" is virtually a remix of Speakerboxxx's "The Way You Move," but otherwise, Brown gives us his own spin on the sound that brought him to the dance, delivering exactly what you want without always being exactly what you expect.
Mr. Brown is definitively modern baby-makin' music, and while well done, the singular theme of the disc is almost too focused. Despite the thematic tunnel-vision, the track list is efficient and the music is compelling. Even on the bonus track, last year's "I Can't Wait," Brown manages to make old work sound new with a delicate string-quartet intro. The total performance ends in less than an hour, and while there's something to be said for leaving the audience wanting more, Mr. Brown has been long awaited by many and has room for more fleshing out.
Often times, when a frequent team-player finally strikes out on his own, it turns out that he was indeed better off as an accent to other artists' songs. Sleepy Brown stays far away from that category, displaying that he's more than just a gimmick. Given the success he's had behind the scenes, he may choose to stay there, but if he does decide to step back into the foreground, he'll be doing so having fully established himself as being worthy of the opportunity.