Bobby Brown recounts the origins of new jack swing and his hit “My Prerogative” in a new clip from the upcoming two-part documentary Biography: Bobby Brown. It airs May 30 and May 31 on A&E.
The clip begins with Brown and critic/author Nelson George offering a succinct breakdown of new jack swing, the latter explaining how it took “the aggression of hip-hop and some of the instrumental sounds, but mixed them with R&B melodies.”
The producer at the forefront of this revolution was Teddy Riley, who invited Brown to his mother’s apartment in Harlem for a recording session. “There was keyboards everywhere, we had the mics set up in the bathroom,” Brown recalled. “We just decided that, no matter what, we were gonna make something funky out of this.”
What emerged was “My Prerogative,” a career-defining hit that anchored Brown’s 1988 album, Don’t Be Cruel. The clip ends with Jermaine Dupri summarizing what made Brown so special in that moment: “He understood, if your attitude is street, let that be what it is. But when you sing, be Smokey Robinson. And when you dance and perform, be Fred Astaire, be Michael Jackson. To me, Bobby had figured all that out, and when he locked that in, you couldn’t stop him.”
Biography: Bobby Brown will offer an extensive overview of Brown’s wildly successful, though often equally tumultuous life and career. Per a press release, Brown will discuss his struggles with substance abuse, his marriage to Whitney Houston, as well as Houston’s death and the death of his two children, Bobby Brown, Jr. and Bobbi Kristina Brown. The documentary also reportedly features footage of Brown visiting the gravesite of Houston and Bobbi Kristina Brown for the first time.
The press release does not state whether Brown will discuss some of the domestic violence and abuse allegations against him: In 1998 he was accused of sexual battery, but that case was dismissed due to lack of evidence; and in 2003, he was charged with battery after an altercation with Houston. In his memoir, Every Little Step, Brown did admit to striking Houston on one occasion, but denied claims that he was abusive towards his late ex-wife.