Though you may not be familiar with his music - you'll swear that you've heard it before. This week, B. Howard's "Don't Say That You Love" broke into the coveted Top 40 and rose to No. 36on Billboard's Dance Club Songs list. Its sound is so familiar, you might think it was a "lost song" of Michael Jackson's. While there's no denying that the smooth song sounds a lot like something the King of Pop would have written and sung, Jackson has had nothing to do with it.
For those unaware, it should be noted that Howard is close to the Jackson family and his mother, singer Miki Howard, was once managed by Joseph Jackson, so there is no mistaking where some of his influence comes from. With that said though, Howard is his own person and wants to be recognized for his own talents and achievements.
“Who hasn’t been inspired by Michael and the Jackson brothers?” he recently told EuroWeb. “Most of the people out now, even my good friend Ne-Yo, he’s come out with the sequined jacket and everything. For me, it’s more of I’m doing me. …I’m just me. I’m Brandon.” It should also be no surprise that the forth-coming LP, which features the song, has been titled "Nothing to Prove.
This week I had the pleasure of talking to Howard one-on-one over the phone about his new project. I was a bit surprised by the soft-spoken voice on the other end and had to double-check my notes. Perhaps he was younger than I thought. I reminded him of a quote that is featured in his bio on his website that says; "My music is a reflection of who I truly am as an artist - not who people or the media think I am." So I asked him, "Who do people think you are?" His response. "A spoiled brat." When I asked him what he meant, he just laughed. Maybe it's because he lives in Beverly Hills, I don't know.
Howard is a man of few words and is refreshingly playful. He says that he just wants to make people happy with his music and he thinks that will help him stand out among the others. His 2011 song "Dancefloor" is definitely upbeat but isn't in a hurry to get your heart racing. "Don't Say You love Me," is similar with an even slower beat that, as he says, you can "just chill to." The first video has a great narrative set up as he is taking a first date to an abandoned warehouse only to reveal a secret club and "dancefloor." The second is a bit more serious. It features himself obviously enjoying the company of singer/model Adeline Mocke and a segment that features rapper BK Brasco.
Though there is some debate, some people can be taught how to be creative. Howard however, taught himself. He self-taught himself how to play the piano and he wrote his first song when he was ten. I asked him "How do you that?" There was silence on the other end. I then said, "I'm not asking you for a lesson, I'm just wondering how one would even know how to go about it." He then laughed again and then tried to explain his self-learning process which is sort of like explaining how to whistle. It seems more like a God-given gift than a skill. I asked him if he only played by ear or if he had learn to read music as well. He admitted that he struggled a bit with the "rules" that he learned a number of years ago in a music appreciation class, but it is something that he appreciates now.
Howard began to use all of his talents in his budding career serving as a record producer in 2003 but didn't start on his own solo career until 2010. His first album, Genesis, was released under his own 6 Point's label and Universal Music Japan. “My success overseas with Universal Music Japan was a great experience for me and then watching my video climb the MTV Japan charts was definitely a huge blessing.” So, though he's been playing for years, we are just now being introduced.
People have described Brandon as having a musical mix of the past as well as being very contemporary. Music and other artists who have inspired him over the years range from Drake (no shocker there) to Chicago - that one threw me, but you can feel some of their influence in his music for sure, and that isn't a bad thing at all. It may be too soon to predict if posters of Brandon will be festooning dorm room walls any time soon, but you never know.