Brandy says it took more than wrapping up an album after a three-year hiatus to gain a sense of fulfillment. She had to make sure she was getting the most out of her personal life, so she moved out on her own, spent some time soul searching and possibly got engaged (she doesn't floss a ring, but she says "maybe" when asked if she's reached that relationship milestone).
"That's why I entitled [my album] Full Moon," she told MTV News on Wednesday, "because I have done a complete circle and I feel whole. All of that's reflected in the music. It's a concept album, it's autobiographical. Everything that I've gone through in the last three years is reflected."
Although she says she's madly in love now, Brandy croons about heartache on the album's first single, the Rodney Jerkins-produced "What About Us?"
"Rodney was working on it when we were in L.A.," she said. "It was this offbeat track, this high-tech track. I was like 'Oh my God, Rodney, this is it. This is exactly what the industry needs. We can maybe change the game with this.' He said, 'Yeah, this is what I'm going for.'
"I got with some of the writers on the project and told them what I wanted to talk about. 'This is an aggressive record it's edgy, it's sexy. I wanna sing about something that's sexy and edgy.' I revisited my past in my mind and kind of told them what I wanna talk about."
On Full Moon, due March 5, Brandy mostly focuses on relationships. She cuts off a zero and gains independence on "I Thought," she refuses to break up with her baby boo on "It's Not Worth It," and she testifies about getting caught up in the rapture of love on "He Is" and "Full Moon."
The title track was written by Mike City (Babyface, Ruff Ryders). "He really challenged himself," she said. "If you listen to it, it's different from what he's already done in the past. It's ghetto, but it's pop and R&B at the same time. That record has a lot of elements to it. Anything can happen on a full moon. On that particular [song], I'm actually falling in love with somebody I'm just meeting. I hope that's the second single, because it's different. I've never heard anything like it."
You won't hear too many guests alongside the singer, who'll be celebrating her 23rd birthday three days shy of Valentine's Day. Brandy has a duet with Ray J, her brother, on "I'd Die Without You," a remake of PM Dawn's 1993 hit, and Michael Jackson's vocals are used on "It's Not Worth It."
"It's a sample that Rodney used," she said of M.J.'s appearance. "It's a sample that no one's ever heard before."
The singer said that although listeners could hardly hear the background vocals she lent to Jackson's "Unbreakable," on last year's Invincible, she was happy to get down with Mike.
"You couldn't even hear me on the track," she said, laughing. "If I could just breathe on his project [that would have been OK.] I cried, I was so overwhelmed to meet Michael Jackson."