Hot on the heels of a high profile appearance last week on the Today Show, bad boy Bobby Brown releases a new single, "Don't Let Me Die." I don't mean to spoil it for you, but Bobbay's new single, isn't about Whitney. Though it's said that "Don't Let Me Die" was written prior to her death, it will undoubtedly grab attention precisely because of the irony of the title. When I first heard that he was releasing a new single, I was eager to take a listen. The voice that gave us hits back in the day like "My Prerogative," "Every Little Step," "Roni" and, one of my faves, "Rock Wit'cha," has long since been replaced by a phlegmy, grittier version of its former self. I was pretty curious about how his current voice would adjust to new material. Going in, I fully expected the song to sound like he had a drunken, spittle-filled slobberfest with the mic, but to my surprise, it wasn't nearly that sloppy.
On this first single from his upcoming album, The Masterpiece, set to be released June 5th, Brown embraces this "new R&B" sound that I'm beginning to loathe so much. In the song, he confronts his inability to move on after losing his love, claims to not be able to breathe without her in his life and pleads for her not to let him die (continue to resist the urge to make this about Whit Whit). His voice starts off good enough before devolving into growls, possibly in an attempt to compensate for lost vocal stamina and range. Overall, I can't say it's a bad track; I don't think it is. But, it did make me uncomfortable more than once. No lie, when I heard his haggard gasp for air at the start of the track, I instinctively panicked and gasped for breath myself. If the goal was to convey the sense that he really was on his last breath, he surely succeeded at the expense of making me highly uncomfortable listening to over 10 seconds of struggle breaths at the end of the song. Then there's my other, itty bitty quibble. Did he say "breaf"?
With the heartbreaking circumstances surrounding the death of his famous ex-wife and the release of new details about the life they once lived together, you really do want to see him win. For that reason, I'm looking forward to hearing how his desire to "bridge the gap between good old R&B and R&B of today" comes together on The Masterpiece, his first solo album in 14 years. Take a listen to "Don't Let Me Die" and decide whether you believe he's well on his way to accomplishing that goal.