The Making of Bobby Brown's "Don't Be Cruel"
While some record label honchos shared the public’s indifferent attitude towards Bobby’s solo career, a young executive named Louil Silas, Jr was determined to mold Brown into the soul sensation he believed him to be. With no one at the company really paying attention to Bobby, Louil put
his underdog singer in the studio with relative newcomers LA & Babyface and Teddy Riley.
A lot A&R people were afraid to work with us, because they thought we were under exclusive contract to SOLAR Records, recalls Kenny Babyface” Edmonds. Along with his partner Antonio LA Reid, they were the musical becaons behind their own group The Deele as well as producing the Whispers’ classic Rock Steady.
LA and Babyface had also worked with Silas on tracks for upcoming MCA acts Pebbles and The Boys. “Louil was one of the few people who wasn’t afraid of (SOLAR Records boss) Dick Griffey, which was the reason we got our shot to do Bobby.” Visiting the production duo in their Hollywood apartment, Bobby listened to Babyface sing demos of “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Every Little Step.”
Thinking back, Babyface recalls, “We wrote songs that were sweet and nice, but they also had a little edge to them. Bobby was pretty agreeable when he heard the material.” Not long after that initial meeting, Brown began recording with the duo at Silver Lake Studios in Los Angeles.
“Bobby had a pure vibe and a passion that was unmistakable, but he just needed a little guidance,” says Babyface, who cites “Roni” as his personal favorite. “We just went in and recorded without problems. We didn’t spend a lot of time in the studio, but listening to Bobby Brown record those songs, it was obvious that he had star power.
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