Photo credits: MCA Records
According to the Music History Calendar, MCA Records formed musical competition within itself – by releasing the debut album of a newly-minted solo artist -on the same day it released the fifth album by the group, which the said solo artist just left.
On June 20, 1988, MCA released R&B singer Bobby Brown’s first solo album Don’t Be Cruel, as well as New Edition’s fifth LP titled Heart Break. Three years earlier, Brown left New Edition – the group where he got his start as co-superstar in the R&B music genre – alongside the following group members: Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ronnie DeVoe, and Ralph Tresvant.
In terms of commercial success, Brown won the competition with his former band – when it comes to performance on the music chart and overall album sales.
The Don’t Be Cruel title track, “Roni,” “Every Little Step,” “Rock Wit’cha,” and – most famously – the chart-topper “My Prerogative” are among the album’s five Top 10 hits. “My Prerogative,” written by Brown, is an obnoxious new jack swing song that celebrates his newfound liberty. The album spends six weeks at the top of the Billboard 200 albums chart, which made it the top-selling album in the United States in 1989.
In the case of New Edition (with new group member Johnny Gill replacing Brown), Heart Break reached #12 on the Billboard 200, with five songs charting, the highest of which being “If It Isn’t Love,” which reaches #7 on the pop chart. Also, at the 1988 Soul Train Music Awards, New Edition beat out Brown to win Album of the Year.
In all, with competitive elements of this story to the side, one can still surmise that black music history was made for its R&B division – that made an explosive rise in popularity for the genre, which continued to rocket into the 1990s.