Brandy & Ray J Cover KONTROL Magazine

Brandy, The Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter has sold over 30 million records worldwide, has won more than 100 awards and was named among the top 20 pop artists of the 1990s by Billboard, yet still appears to be America’s sweetheart. Success came for her very quickly at a young age as she gained respect from heavyweights like Whitney Houston and Babyface. Yet, however great her reign was as an R&B princess, the new millennium brought difficulties she had not faced before in her career. Now, Brandy is ready to perfect the original cloth she was cut from and get back to her core audience.

Since her 1994 debut hit single, “I Wanna Be Down,” Brandy’s fashion sense has been both age appropriate and a genuine reflection of her individual journey. “I’ve been kind of dumb in fashion for a lot of years. I’ve always loved fashion, I just could never make sense of my own personal style. I’m just now coming into my own again.” Admiring style icons Naomi Campbell and Beyonce for their daring, yet classic fashion choices, she also speaks highly of Rihanna. “I really like Rihanna’s style. I think she’s awesome. To me, she can’t go wrong.” Brandy describes her own style preferences as going towards a chic, modelesque direction, though in her down time, she adheres to a strict comfort rule; t-shirts, jeans and her cozy pair of Uggs. “I don’t go overboard. This may not be on a fashion tip, in terms of like the whole model thing, but I got to have my Uggs! Honey, I don’t care what type of weather it is. If it’s hot, cold… They’re just so comfortable.” She laughs at her guilty pleasure, saying, “…and I was kind of mad because I didn’t have them this trip. Like, I forgot to put my Uggs in my bag!” On the opposite end of the fashion spectrum, Louis Vuitton, without hesitation, is her favorite designer, but Brandy also listens to her fans’ opinions on style. “I love what my fans say. In so many ways, you’re there for them; you want them to be able to relate to you or get inspired by what you’re looking like.” Gracefully entering her thirties, Brandy admits, “now [she’s] getting a little more comfortable with [her] body.” She feels now is her time to take more bold risks with her fashion, “Classy, but risky,” she adds. “I’m open to everything. I think it’s good not to know so that the stylist can do whatever they want to do.”

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Bobbing my head to “Wait a Minute”, I allow my mind to go back to some of my favorite sitcoms I watched coming up through my youth. I think of the witty “Moesha” show that I made sure to tune into b/c of the sexy, bad boy, Dorian who appeared in the latter seasons. I then think of One On One, and how I laughed so much from the antics of D-Money and his crew until tears formed in the creases of my eyes. All characters of which were played by a young William Raymond Norwood Jr., better known to the world as Ray J. Sipping on my Moscato, my mind then goes to the current streams of reality shows that have replaced the world of scripted television, and a new, more developed, even more handsome, if you can imagine, Ray J comes to mind, with streams of scantily clad women doing splits, bottom-bounces and partaking in catfights and risky behavior, all to win his affection.

Is he pleasant but industry-certified cocky? Or is he the typical “all-about-me” entertainer who can’t conduct business without an entourage in the room that simply squabbles billable hours and is even more demanding than the artist himself? Surprisingly, he was neither as he graciously set aside time to openly speak about whatever topic of discussion. He was mature, he was sexy, he was professional, he was patient and best of all, he was himself.

So how does one go from the perceived bad boy, reckless party animal to a mature, discerning, selective, positive business man in such a short amount of time? Says Ray J,“I’ve been wild and crazy for a few years, doing me. But after a while you have to grow; as a man, as an artist, as an entrepreneur. The old Ray J was much more reckless. It comes to a point in your life as a man and as an artist to look back at what you’ve done and learn from that, and know how many people are watching you and looking up to you, and take that responsibility to put out positive messages and projects that people can be inspired from.”

And that he did with the popular reality series, Brandy & Ray J: A Family Affair that he created along with 51 Minds. With the prior success of season one and with season two well under way, the ratings have been great and the show’s content very touching, funny, positive and informative. Fans are able to get much more than a glimpse into the lives of the Norwood Empire as Ray J and his sister Brandy take on the challenging transition of running the offices, giving their parents a much needed break from the business. Viewers see sweat, tears, failing and blooming relationships, struggles, trials, disappointments and more; something that isn’t often shown on all reality shows, especially those dealing with well-known celebrities such as he. However, that’s how much of an open book Ray J is. “I have total control of the show. We try to let you see everything. So if I was reckless that day, or if I was drunk or if I was focused, we want to show that. We don’t candy coat it and show you what we want you to see. My goal is to just let people see what we go through, and then also show you the learning process of where we were and how we learn to elevate from that. That’s the most important thing to me.”

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