Monday, June 9, 2008

We Owned The 80's - Al B. Sure

The 80's were The Decade Of The Lightskinnded/Goodhaired Guy, and perhaps no artist symbolizes this period in time better than Albert Joseph Brown III, better known as Al B Sure.

Luminaries like Prince, El Debarge, and yes, Gregory Abbott opened the door for the marginally talented standout high school QB from Money Earnin' Mount Vernon, NY. At the height of New Jack Swing's popularity, Al B turned down a scholarship to the University of Iowa to pursue a sangin' career. After catching the attention of music mogul Quincy Jones, Sure parlayed his exposure into a record deal at Warner Brothers.

His first single, "Night and Day" was a classic mid-tempo jawn that practically sounded like the 80's. And I don't have to remind you, the 80's sounded damn good.

Man, is that great music or what? I don't really understand half of what he's saying on this song, but the combination of the synths, the bassline, and the occasional guitar wails all adds up to a seriously nice tune. I can still remember the dry humpin' slow draggin' at my high school dances like it was just yesterday.

Sure's second single, "Off On Your Own Girl" was far more indicative of the gluttonously overproduced musical era that was New Jack Swing.

As much as I liked this song, listening to it 20 years later reveals some cracks in the armor. Sure, it's a nice tune, but some of the stuff dude was spittin' just seems sooo corny in retrospect.

"don't sweat yourself... on the strength"

"dope on a rope... nope"


Sorry Albert, but that was some lame ass rappin' cuz.

Also on Al B's debut, but curiously sans video is one of my favorites, "Oooh This Love Is So" which has only been sampled about 27 million times by various rappers.

In Effect Mode went on to sell over 2 Million copies, which is pretty darned amazing. R&B albums seldom crossed over back in the days, black videos were segregated mainly to BET, and radio stations didn't depend nearly as much on payola corporate dictated playlists. Like most artists, when his own recording career began to wane in the early 90's, he shifted focus to producing, penning hits for fellow Quincy Jones protege Tevin Campbell, R&B quartet Jodeci, and Faith Evans among others.

While his career fizzled, at least the man's offspring have gone on to achieve moderate levels of success. His daughter plays the flirty girl next door on Everybody Hates Chris. His oldest son, the oddly named Lil' B Sure was recently featured on some MTV singing competition so bad the name escapes me.[1] And one of his other sons was born to ex-model[2] Kim Porter, better known as P. Diddy's serial baby mama. I'm not sayin' this is exactly a come-up, but seriously, you could end up with far worse "semi"-stepfather arrangements. It beats havin' your Mom get knocked up by Colonel Abrams. Or for that matter, Al B Sure.

I'm just sayin'.

Sure's experiencing a bit of a career comeback in recent months. In addition to the MTV show, I caught him on some roundtable on TVOne, and as a villain in some straight-to-DVD flick a few months back. This might not sound like much, but when's the last time you saw Sammuelle, Christopher Williams, or Chuckii Booker?


Question: Ladies, just how big a crush did you have on Al B Sure? Fellas, how much did you hate hearing your girlfriend talk about this uni-browed dodo?[3] Got any suggestions for future We Owned The 80's?

Al B Sure [Wiki]

More from the We Owned The 80's series []

[1] Watching Al B Sure give his son, Lil B Sure tips on how to sing was like watching Charles Barkley give T-Mac advice on how to win an NBA title. Truly the tone deaf leading the tone deaf.

[2] Did she ever actually model? Not that I'd know this sorta stuff, but she clearly was no Tyra.

[3] Just in case anyone thinks I'm hatin' on "lightskinned/good-haired" guys, I'm not. I'm only mentioning this because it's relevant to the period in time. My own Pops was a "lightskinned/good-haired" guy for Crissakes. Let it go.

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