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 The Leak: Brandy's Afrodisiac

Brandy Album Preview: Singer Opens Up On Afrodisiac — Or Does She?

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— by SuChin Pak

It seems like a lot more than two years have passed since Brandy was last in the spotlight. That's because in 2002, when she released Full Moon, the singer had obligations more pressing than radio interviews and meet-and-greets: She was a newlywed with a baby on the way. Thus, we didn't get a full dose of Brandy.

In the two-double-o-fo', though, Brandy is back. Her daughter, Sy'rai, was recently spotted running around the Viacom building with grandma Sonia — but Brandy has flipped the script in many other areas of her life. She's in love, but not with ex-hubby Robert Smith: L.A. Clipper Quentin Richardson has stolen her heart like an inbound pass. And she's hooked up with some new blood — including producers Kanye West and Timbaland — on her new album, Afrodisiac, which also finds her exploring more confessional and personal lyrics.

Fortunately, you don't have to wait for June 29, when the LP drops, to get the scoop. Brandy and MTV News' own SuChin Pak engaged in some girl talk not too long ago. Here's the 411.

SuChin Pak: A few years ago, your face was everywhere. Did you need to step back from that?

Brandy: I definitely felt like I needed a break, because when you do so much, you're not able to appreciate the things that you accomplish. So when you get a chance to look at things and chill and relax, it makes you want it more, and that's why I'm so happy to be back! [She flashes a big smile.]

  Brandy featuring Kanye West
"Talk About Our Love"
Pak: Why did you change producers on this album, choosing to work with Timbaland over Rodney Jerkins, who made such huge hits for you?

Brandy: I made the change because I needed to evolve. I needed to explore my talent and versatility and see if I had another side to me, another sound. Timbaland is one of my favorite producers, and he brought that ghetto, that street out of me. It was always there, I just needed somebody to push it through.  Because at home I am that way anyway — with my friends, my brother — you know?

Pak: Tell me about the single, "Talk About Our Love," with Kanye West.

Brandy: One of the executive producers on my album, G. Robertson, [works with] Kanye, and they both thought this song would be great for me. [Kanye] was dancin' all around the studio like, "Oh my God, you have to do this! This is the hottest song I've done all year, this is you, this is all about you, you gotta do it!" So when you have that type of passion behind a song, and that kind of confidence, it makes you wanna give your all.

Pak: What is the song about?

Brandy: For me, when you're in a relationship and you just wanna be one with that person and you want everybody to support you, but they don't. So my thing is just to keep everything low.

Pak: But is that even possible when you're in the spotlight?

Brandy: It's not possible, but I feel like I have to make it possible. When you fall in love, you wanna share it with people but you know there are some things that you need to keep to yourself, 'cause privacy makes things last longer, I feel.

Pak: I guess that's why you kept your marriage a secret?

Brandy: I just wanted to respect the privacy of Robert. At the time, he was into not being known, and I respected that. But when you're in a situation and you don't feel comfortable and protected and respected, just you don't wanna be there anymore. And that's the change I had to go through, and it was tough but I made it.

Pak: Was it an amicable split?

Brandy: Yes, yes. I just wasn't in love, and I just couldn't live the rest of my life like that. I felt like I was a brave person to be able to do that, because when you're in a situation and you have a child, some women just stay. And I just couldn't be that girl, I had to say, "You know what, this ain't it for me, I gotta do my thing." And I'm celebrating the fact that I was brave, and I hope women out there can learn something from my experience.

Pak: Was there a lot of heartache involved in that decision?

Brandy: Ummm ... heartache ... I don't wanna say heartache. I think if I was deeply in love it would've been tough. I had thoughts about my daughter and [Robert's] feelings, so I wanted to consider that, but for me, just totally alone by myself, I wasn't really heartbroken, no. I felt free to be away from that situation.

"It's just love on the highest level."
Pak: Why is the album called Afrodisiac?

Brandy: It's just love on the highest level. The song ["Afrodisiac"] is about a man that I love and I need and I'm cool with and never want to leave.

Pak: So could I say it's about the new love in your life, Mr. Q ... [Quentin Richardson].

Brandy: Yeah. Oh, so you know about Q, huh?

Pak: I do my research. Is that going well?

Brandy: It's definitely going well. We're taking it day by day because we're both young and I've been through a crazy experience. He's a special person, I wanna definitely take my time with him and see what life is all about with him.

Pak: You're not secretly married, are you? I don't want to have to find out about it on the news!

Brandy: I promise you, I'm gonna call [my next marriage] my first marriage, because it'll  be the first time that I'll ever get a chance to walk down the aisle and have bridesmaids and my mom crying and my dad giving me away, and just really being in love with somebody. I promise you, it will not be a secret because it'll be real.

Pak: Kobe Bryant took you to your high-school prom.

Brandy: Yes.

Pak: Have you been in contact with him?

Brandy: I haven't talked to Kobe in so long. But I am so glad he took me to the prom. I wouldn't have had a chance to go because I wasn't in regular high school.

Pak: Do you follow his case?

Brandy: I know what's going on, definitely. I know what's going on. But I just want Kobe to be OK and I hope the situation works out.

Pak: You've worked with Michael Jackson in the past. Have you been following his case?

Brandy: I try not to watch it because I want to keep my own idea of Michael Jackson, and the same with Kobe. Kobe is such a good person and I want to keep that. I don't want to watch too much and try to change my mind about that. So I think that's a cop-out, but still: I just want my own personal view of those two people.

Pak: Do you think your audience is ready for you to be sensual and grown-up?

Brandy: Yeah. I think the difference with me is that I waited until I was ready, until I really felt that way. I really feel like a romantic person: I feel sensual, I feel sexy.

Pak: A lot of female artists start sexualizing themselves really young.

Brandy: Yeah, but my mom kept a tight grip on me with that. I wanted to show my little navel and stuff like that, and she was like, "Not yet, you're too young!" But honey, I'm 25 now, I gotta show a little skin, a little leg. Do y'all like my little cleavage? [She laughs.].

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