At 11 p.m. Thursday night, the balance of power among Houston's female rappers (and all rappers, a little) shifted markedly, because that is precisely when Just Brittany's first proper EP, the unexpectedly polished and ambidextrous More Than Just a Pretty Face, was officially released.
Brittany most recently made news when she signed with Cash Money records on the strength of her earworm single "Call Me For That Good," a built-for-radio regional hit that spawned countless remakes and wherein JB essentially shares a celebratory (and metaphorical) high-five with her own vagina.
Prior to the release of the EP, she made herself available for a few moments to answer all sorts of questions about all sorts of things. Some notes from the conversation, followed by some notes from the album:
The first thing that stands out when you talk to Just Brittany on the phone is her voice. It will always sound much more demure than you're expecting, even if you know exactly what to expect. It is not small in way that betrays a lack of confidence, but it does not move mountains, either.
It sounds like what you'd imagine a little gopher's voice would sound like, provided it were not starring in a Tim Burton movie. Why is his shit always so creepy?
When we spoke to Brittany, she was fresh off of shooting a video for her single, "Slumber Party." She said they shot for 17 hours. Apparently, that's normal video-shooting time.
In the video, she mentioned there is a "cupcake scene," which sounds like the greatest thing in the world. Unfamiliar with the standard slumber-party agenda, we asked if all slumber parties had a point in them when girls sit around and eat cupcakes. Turns out, they do. We whiffed on asking about pillow fights or make-out sessions. Let's all just assume that those things go on as well.
She hat-tipped a bunch of people for helping her get to where she is now, as well helping her how to process everything that was happening to her; remember, she went from relative obscurity to near regional fame in less than a year. Chief among those that she wanted to thank: Bun B and his wife.
It probably would've been more surprising if they weren't involved. About two years ago, we were buying Combos from the corner store as a pre-dinner snack because we're so classy, and the cashier was trying to get customers to buy some Bun B/Pimp C compilation mixtape he had made. His sales pitch: "You have to buy the Bun B. The Bun B is Houston's finest." You can't make this stuff up.
Regarding the album, it is a strong effort. Brittany is a better singer than she's displayed to this point, but she lets loose on Pretty Face. The album opener, matter of fact, is a declaration of sorts, efficiently snuffing out the She's Probably Going To Sing A Tiny Bit And Dress Provocatively The Rest Of The Time To Sell This Thing assumption most have (had) about it. She's relying on her talent more now, which is admirable.
That said, there are a few intellectual lulls and/or contradictions within the larger picture of the album, spearheaded by a song seemingly made especially for strippers ("Right Cheek, Left Cheek," which is as substantive as the title would imply). Still, even that will probably be fairly popular.
Features include Gudda Gudda, Top Kat, Marcus Manchild and Kirko Bangz, with Bangz besting the group on the sing-song "Bang, Bang." He has a tape coming out soon as well; more on that later.
The immediate comparison to be made here would be to Nicki Minaj; JB spends a fair amount of time rapping on the album (effectively, most of the time), so that's inevitable. We'll call this the Larry Bird Corollary; you can't be a talented white basketball player and not be compared in some form to No. 33.
But it's not an altogether off-base association either. JB does that warble-voiced flow that Minaj flaunts, as well as takes a few swings at the Ditzy But Not Ditzy sound that Minaj has just about perfected.
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Also, and this may be digging deep into nothingness, but there's an interesting parallel to be drawn between the "People Were Expecting Me To Rap, But I Sing A Lot On This Album" thing that Minaj did and the "People Were Expecting Me To Sing, But I Rap A Lot On This Album" thing that JB does here.
Pretty Face is a catchy, poppy, primed-for-success EP and is very likely the most accessible pop music any female R&B singer/rapper from Houston has put out that isn't directly related to Destiny's Child. Good for her, good for Houston.