Sleepy Brown album lacks soul, substance

Sleepy Brown, the multi-Grammy award-winning producer and songwriter, steps from behind the scenes with his debut Purple Ribbon/Virgin Records release “Mr. Brown.”

You can’t sing hooks forever, but can an artist known for “being that guy in that song” stand alone and deliver 13 indelible tracks?

Sleepy Brown’s smoothed-out southern voice can be heard on Outkast’s “I Like The Way You Move” and the 2004 single “I Can’t Wait,” which was featured on the “Barbershop 2” soundtrack.

But unless you were one of the few people who heard the independently released “Society of Soul” in 2000, an entire album of Sleepy Brown tracks might seem unfathomable.

Brown’s sound is reminiscent of butterscotch, smooth with a touch of sweetness that lingers in the eardrum. He has a voice that carries a comforting sense of familiarity. When heard, the mind thinks “I’ve tasted this before.”

Unfortunately, vocal talent does not translate to lyrical content. “Mr. Brown” is a primary example of the voice escaping the pen.

Many artists let their confidence show through their music with subtle subtexts that make reference to their capabilities as a musician. “I’m Soul,” the first track on the album, is a five minute and 41 second ode to Sleepy Brown.

The track begins with an insufferable drum pattern that made me believe I popped in my Jeezy album rather than this self-proclaimed soulful singer.

Brown comes in a few seconds later repeating the phrase “It’s me…I’m soul…I’m fly.” He then proceeds to explain what makes him soul, with reasons like “Everybody is watching me/Pretty lady are you hungry/We can go somewhere get some buffalo wings.”

There is no lucid definition for what “Soul” really is, but I am confident that the acquisition of chicken has nothing to do with a soulful swagger.

Beside the use of bursting bubble sounds in the opening, “Underwater Love” shows promise. The production is respectable and has an appealing transition. Brown slides into the beat with rising and falling intonation within each word. But it still lacks lyrical imagination. “I want to take a dip/dip inside your love/underwater love/never coming up,” is an all around simple and uninspiring lyric, and after hearing it one wonders, “What does that mean?”

With songs “Till (Your Legs Start Shaking)” and “Get 2 It,” the album screams sex rather than just alluding to the possibility of intimacy. The most alluring aspect of sex is the possibility rather than the action itself. “Mr. Brown” is like sex without foreplay.

The most disappointing thing about the album is that “I Can’t Wait” is the best track on the entire release, and that may be because of Outkast’s appearance rather than Sleepy Brown’s artistry.

The album comes off too hard and becomes obnoxious instead of provocative. If you imagine the old man in the club doing the same old two-step and using lines from the ’70s, you have “Mr. Brown.”

The album is generic and dull, attempting to create something soulful rather than just having soul.

The thing about butterscotch is while you remember the taste, it’s always forgotten until an older person gives you a piece. Sleepy Brown has a good voice, which is unfortunate considering nothing about this album is memorable.

Maybe Mr. Brown should just stick to singing hooks.

Grade: D