“Don’t Be Cruel” by Bobby Brown (1988)

Bobby Brown’s ascension in earnest to superstar status began with summer ‘88’s “Don’t Be Cruel”, a truly inventive melange of funk and hip-hop. Back when singers sang and rappers rapped, songwriter/producers L.A. Reid & Babyface did a fantastic job fusing Bobby’s rap-informed persona with the melodic R&B that was their stock-in-trade. It also presented Bobby as a fully functioning adult after a series of singles that were aimed at a more cutesy audience (1986′s borderline-awful #1 R&B smash “Girlfriend” and the better but not as successful “Girl Next Door”).

No one should ever confuse Bob with a great rapper (or a great singer), but the man had enough swagger to capably sell his proficiency in both musical mediums.

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