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Brown Sugar by D’Angelo (EMI, 1995)

Brown Sugar was D’Angelo’s debut album. Initially, sales were slow but picked up as the popularity of the album’s singles grew.

D’Angelo was born Michael Eugene Archer on February 11, 1974 in Richmond, Virginia. His demo tape caught the attention of executives at EMI Records in 1991. His first foray on the music charts was with the single U Will Know performed by Black Men United for the 1994 film Jason’s Lyric. (It hit #28 on the Hot 100 and #5 on the R&B charts.)

The next year D’Angelo’s debut album Brown Sugar was released. The lead single Brown Sugar hit #27 (Hot 100) and #5 (R&B). The follow-up single Cruisin only went to #53 on the Hot 100 and #10 on the R&B charts. His third single Lady brought him into the spotlight and helped (finally) the album fly off the shelves. Lady hit #10 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the R&B chart. Lady pushed the album to Platinum status.

Brown Sugar helped to propel D’Angelo into the stardom that the neo-soul genre provided to other artists such as Maxwell, Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill. The album was somewhat of a critical success, but not as much as his 2000 follow-up album, Voodoo.