Crafting an R&B ballad may seem like a lost art these days, but you'd be hard-pressed to survive as an artist without that wrinkle to your skill set just two decades ago. During that era, passionate songs of love and lust were much in vogue and few artists were able to dominate that style than Brian McKnight.
Born in Buffalo, N.Y., McKnight got his feet wet as a performer early on, joining his church choir, where we would cultivate his presence as a performer and strengthen his vocal ability. McKnight's older brother, Claude McKnight III, who is a member of the vocal group Take 6, would ink a record deal with Warner Bros. Records, affording the younger McKnight the opportunity to shop his own demos.
The singer would ultimately secure a recording contract of his own with Mercury Records' subsidiary, Wing Records, home to Tony! Toni! Tone! among others. Releasing his self-titled debut effort in 1992, McKnight was successful out of the gate, scoring a top 20 hit with "One Last Cry," and a platinum plaque for selling over a million copies of the album.
Looking to build on that foundation, McKnight released his sophomore album, I Remember You, on Aug. 8, 1995. Although not as successful as its predecessor, it cemented the young crooner as a talented singer and songwriter. The album was certified gold and is arguably one of his most slept-on projects of his career.
Being that today marks the 20th anniversary of the release of I Remember You, we highlighted the five best songs on the album.
"The Day The Earth Stood Still"
I Remember You gets spiritual with "The Day The Earth Stood Still," a song centered around Brian McKnight's faith in Christianity that takes us to church. Featuring lyrics penned by Brandon Barnes and McKnight, the song is equal style and substance and can be thrown in a gospel-hour mix or your quiet-storm playlist.
"Crazy In Love" is a sentimental ballad that captures the vocalist showering his main squeeze with love and affection. "I can hear her heartbeat from a thousand miles / Hear the heavens open every time she smiles / When I come to her, that's where I belong / When I run into her like a river strong," he croons on the track. Released as the lead single in promotion of the album, the song was his biggest hit, peaking at No. 45 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
I Remember You immediately gets into its groove with the upbeat opener, "On the Down Low." Written and produced by McKnight himself, the song sees McKnight getting his creep on with a woman that's spoken for. The second single released from the LP, the song was a marginal hit on urban contemporary radio, peaking at No. 73 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and further establishing McKnight as a force to be reckoned with.
McKnight dazzles listeners with the mid-tempo ditty, "Must Be Love," which is a standout on the album. Co-written by Brandon Barnes and McKnight and produced by the latter, the track contains live horns peppered over the digitized soundbed. "We used to hang out all night / Ladies on the left and on the right" he sings. The song recalls a time when he was more concerned with lust over love prior to meeting the woman of his dreams and delivers an infectious ballad that is still worthy of a spin or two.
A balladeer at heart, McKnight turns in an indelible hit with "Still In Love," another memorable track from his album. Co-written by McKnight and Brandon Barnes, the song is powered by a harp, keyboards, piano keys and light snares. On the tune, McKnight delicately sings with the tenderness of a true Casanova. "When the eagles forget how to fly / And when it's twenty below in July / And when violets turn red and roses turn blue / I'll still be in love with you," he croons. The crooner's lyrics are heartfelt and help convey the definition of an undying love through song.