Don't Be Cruel (album)

Don't Be Cruel
Studio album by Bobby Brown
Released June 20, 1988
Recorded October 1987–April 1988
Genre New jack swing[1]
Length 47:08
Label MCA
Producer Louil Silas, Jr. (ex.)
Babyface, L. A. Reid, Gene Griffin, Bobby Brown, Larry White
Bobby Brown chronology
King of Stage
Don't Be Cruel
Dance!...Ya Know It!
Singles from Don't Be Cruel
  1. "Don't Be Cruel"
    Released: May 16, 1988
  2. "My Prerogative"
    Released: October 11, 1988
  3. "Roni"
    Released: December 27, 1988
  4. "Every Little Step"
    Released: March 9, 1989
  5. "Rock Wit'cha"
    Released: August 15, 1989
Professional ratings
Review scores
The Village VoiceB+[3]

Don't Be Cruel is the second album by American R&B singer Bobby Brown. It was released in the United States on June 20, 1988 by MCA Records.

The album was far more successful than Brown's debut, peaking at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart and spawning 5 Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 singles, including Brown's very first #1, "My Prerogative". It spent a total of six weeks on top of the Billboard 200 and was the best-selling album of 1989 in the United States. The album also reached the Top 5 in the United Kingdom and Australia.

Don't Be Cruel received extremely positive reviews from music critics.[1] Brown also won his first Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance at the 1990 Grammy Awards for "Every Little Step".

The album has been certified 7x Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of over 7 million units in the United States.[4]


Brown changed producers for this album, and worked extensively with hit-making songwriting/production duo Babyface and L.A. Reid. Alex Henderson of Allmusic writes

Don't Be Cruel was to Bobby Brown what Control was to Janet Jackson -- a tougher, more aggressive project that shed his "bubblegum" image altogether and brought him to a new artistic and commercial plateau. With "My Prerogative" and the title song, Brown became a leader of new jack swing -- a forceful, high-tech blend of traditional soul singing and rap/hip-hop that's also associated with Guy and Brown's New Edition colleagues, Bell Biv DeVoe.[5]

Commercial Performance

Don't Be Cruel debuted at #74 on the Billboard 200 on July 23, 1988. It wasn't until six months later that the album reached #1, starting a six-week non-consecutive run at #1, from January 21, 1989 - February 4, 1989 and February 18, 1989 - March 4, 1989. Its reign at number one was interrupted for one week by Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction.

The album also spent a total of 11 non-consecutive weeks atop the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart over the course of 1988 and 1989. It spent an eight-week non-consecutive run at #1 from September–November 1988, and then remarkably returned to #1 four months later in Match 1989.

Don't Be Cruel was the best selling album of 1989 in the United States, and finished #1 on the Billboard Year-End album chart.[6]


All five singles released from the album reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. "Don't Be Cruel" was released as the lead single. The second single, "My Prerogative" earned Brown his first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. "My Prerogative" was also the second-biggest single of 1989, finishing at #2 on the Year-End Billboard Hot 100 Singles of 1989. Three of the singles also reached #1 on Billboard's Hot R&B Songs chart.

Year Single Chart positions[7]
1988 "Don't Be Cruel" 8 1
"My Prerogative" 1 1
1989 "Roni" 3 2
"Every Little Step" 3 1
"Rock Wit'cha" 7 3

All singles have been certified Gold by the RIAA.[4]

Track listing

No. TitleWriter(s)Producer(s) Length
1. "Cruel Prelude"  Babyface, L.A. ReidBabyface, L.A. Reid 0:39
2. "Don't Be Cruel"  Babyface, L.A. Reid, Daryl SimmonsBabyface, L.A. Reid 6:52
3. "My Prerogative"  Bobby Brown, Gene GriffinGene Griffin, Bobby Brown (co.) 4:51
4. "Roni"  BabyfaceBabyface, L.A. Reid 5:58
5. "Rock Wit'Cha"  Babyface, L.A. ReidBabyface, L.A. Reid 4:49
6. "Every Little Step"  Babyface, L.A. ReidBabyface, L.A. Reid 3:57
7. "I'll Be Good to You"  Bobby Brown, Gene GriffinGene Griffin, Bobby Brown (co.) 4:25
8. "Take It Slow"  Jay Logan, Lee Peters, Larry WhiteLarry White 5:22
9. "All Day All Night"  Dennis Wadington, DeWayne Sweet, Larry White, Lee PetersLarry White 4:40
10. "I Really Love You Girl"  Bobby Brown, Gordon JonesGene Griffin, Bobby Brown (co.) 5:11
11. "Cruel Reprise"  Babyface, L.A. ReidBabyface, L.A. Reid 0:18
Total length:


Weekly charts

Chart (1988–89) Peak
Australian Albums Chart[8] 5
Dutch Albums Chart[9] 27
German Albums Chart 26
New Zealand Albums Chart[10] 2
Swedish Albums Chart[11] 20
UK Albums Chart[12] 3
US Billboard 200[13] 1
US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[14] 1

Year-end charts

Chart (1989) Position
U.S. Billboard 200 1

Chart procession

Preceded by
Giving You the Best That I Got by Anita Baker
Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses
U.S. Billboard 200 number-one album
January 21, 1989 – February 4, 1989
February 18, 1989 – March 4, 1989
Succeeded by
Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses
Electric Youth by Debbie Gibson
Preceded by
Strictly Business by EPMD
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Public Enemy
Don't Let Love Slip Away by Freddie Jackson
Karyn White by Karyn White
U.S. Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums number-one album
September 10, 1988 – September 17, 1988
October 1, 1988 - October 8, 1988
October 22, 1988 - November 12, 1988
March 18, 1989 - April 1, 1989
Succeeded by
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Public Enemy
Don't Let Love Slip Away by Freddie Jackson
Giving You the Best That I Got by Anita Baker
Let's Get It Started by MC Hammer


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[15] 2× Platinum 600,000^
United States (RIAA)[16] 7× Platinum 7,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


Credits adapted from Allmusic.[17]




  1. 1 2 Eddy, Chuck (March 2011). "Essentials: R&B Rubs Hip-Hop the Right Way and the New Jack Swing Era Is Born". Spin. New York: 84. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  2. Henderson, Alex (November 1, 2001). "Don't Be Cruel - Bobby Brown: Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
  3. Christgau, Robert (January 24, 1989). "Consumer Guide Jan. 24, 1989". The Village Voice. Village Voice Media. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
  4. 1 2
  7. "Bobby Brown US singles chart history". Retrieved 2011-10-07.
  8. "ARIA Albums Chart - November 26, 1989".
  9. "Dutch Albums Chart - April 15, 1989".
  10. "New Zealand Albums Chart - June 18, 1989".
  11. "Swedish Albums Chart - April 5, 1989".
  12. "UK Albums Chart - July 16, 1989". The Official Charts Company.
  13. "Billboard 200 January 21, 1989". Billboard.
  14. "Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums September 10, 1988". Billboard.
  15. "British album certifications – Bobby Brown – Don't Be Cruel". British Phonographic Industry. Enter Don't Be Cruel in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  16. "American album certifications – Bobby Brown – Don't Be Cruel". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  17. "Don't Be Cruel - Bobby Brown". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2012-07-03.

See also

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