New Edition had been all but written off after their horrific last album in 1986. People were jamming to Club Nouveau, Full Force, Jody Watley, Levert, Klymaxx, The System, Atlantic Starr, Alexander O’Neal, Terrence Trent D’arby, Cameo, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam and Keith Sweat throughout this time and they were slowly forgetting about New Edition. This was more than enough motivation for the Roxbury renegades of R&B to reclaim their thrones and once again change the game.

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Bobby Brown regrouped from his disappointing debut album. He stayed in contact with members of New Edition even though he was voted out and he took stock in their progress on the comeback trail. In turn, Bobby decided to do the same. He soon enlisted the services of the songwriting/production team of L.A. Reid & Babyface. They didn’t have any huge successes on the level that Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis previously enjoyed with Janet Jackson, Cherrelle or Alexander O’Neal but Bobby was going to help change all of that. In October 1987, Bobby Brown, L.A. Reid, Babyface, Darryl Simmons, Gene Griffin, Larry White and Gordon Jones all began crafting the album that would change popular music forever.

By January 1988, New Edition completed their comeback album “Heart Break.” In the time they’d been gone from the scene the entire game had changed. They knew they had to come out hard and knock everyone else out the box. Instead of trying to convince everyone they were grown up and hope to gain acceptance in a changing industry, they instead operated from a position of power. They were going to put together a comprehensive tour and bring the album to life in front of audiences all across the country so they could experience the new New Edition for themselves. Preparation for what was to become the 1988 Heartbreak Tour began immediately.

Bobby Brown completed “Don’t Be Cruel” in April 1988. His boys and labelmates New Edition were putting together their comeback tour and they reached out to Bobby to be part of it, as he was coming back to smash the game as well. Bobby headed back to Boston in May to film the video for his album’s lead single “Don’t Be Cruel.” New Edition wouldn’t be releasing a single before they dropped the album, instead opting to begin the tour immediately and drop the lead single while they were on the road to actively help push it. It was risky but if it worked? It would pay off handsomely for everyone.

Where It All Started: 25th Anniversary Retrospective of Bobby Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel” & New Edition’s “Heart Break”  was originally published on theurbandaily.com

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