Albert Joseph Brown III (born June 4, 1968, Mount Vernon, New York), best known under his stage name Al B. Sure! is a three-time Grammy-nominated American R&B recording artist, record producer and a noted pioneer of the New Jack Swing fusion genre.
Prior to his music career, Sure! was known locally as the star football quarterback at Mount Vernon High School. His talents earned him an athletic scholarship to the University of Iowa, but he rejected it to pursue music full time. In 1987, he was personally selected by legendary music producer Quincy Jones as the inaugural winner of Sony's Innovator Talent Search. Warner Bros. Vice President of black music Benny Medina offered Sure! a recording contract to record his debut. Sure!, despite initially starting as a rapper, spent six months teaching himself how to sing and compose melodies with his cousin and producer, Kyle West.
His first appearance on an album was Heavy D's Livin' Large, providing singing vocals on "Dedicated" and "Don't You Know", thanks to being childhood friends with album producer DJ Eddie F. This led to him getting introduced to Uptown Records founder and CEO Andre Harrell, who brought Sure! into Uptown as an artist.
Sure!'s debut album, In Effect Mode, was released by Uptown, with Warner Bros. Records providing distribution. The album became a huge success, topping the R&B/Hip Hop charts and hitting number twenty on the Billboard Hot 200, selling two million copies. The album received multiple award nominations and spawned multiple R&B hits, including "Nite N Day", Sure!'s only single to reach the top 40 of Billboard's pop charts. During this time, Sure! also appeared on the R&B smash "The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite)" from Quincy Jones' Back On The Block as a part of a quartet that also featured Barry White, El DeBarge and James Ingram.
But as fast as he rose to fame, it quickly started to fade out by the early nineties. His 1990 sophomore follow up Private Times... And The Whole 9! only went Gold, and it's lead single "Missunderstanding", just barely missed the Top 40, while 1992's Sexy Versus bombed. After Sexy Versus, he mostly stayed behind the scenes, writing tracks for multi-platinum R&B artists such as Faith Evans, Jodeci, Usher, Case, Tevin Campbell and many others, while providing the occasional song to various movie and TV soundtracks. In 2009, Sure! returned to music and released his fourth album Honey, I'm Home on Hidden Beach Recordings.
Sure! currently hosts "The Secret Garden" on iHeart Radio.
- In Effect Mode (1988)*
- Private Times... And The Whole 9! (1990)*
- Sexy Versus (1992)**
- Honey, I'm Home (2009)
Albums with a single asterisk were released on Uptown Records with distribution from Warner Bros. Records. Sexy Versus was released exclusively on Warner Bros. Records.
Songs of note:
- "Nite And Day"
- "Off On Your Own Girl"
- "Rescue Me"
- "Killing Me Softly"
- "If I'm Not Your Lover"
- "The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite)" (With Quincy Jones, Barry White, El DeBarge & James Ingram)
- "No Matter What You Do" (With Diana Ross)
- "Had Enuf?"
- "Right Now"
- "I Don't Wanna Cry"
- "Black Tie White Noise"
- "I'm Still In Love With You"
- "I Love It (Papi Aye Aye Aye)"
- Big Ol' Unibrow: His trademark look to this very day.
- Contemporary R&B
- Cover Version: Several:
- Crossover: "No Matter What You Do", a duet with Diana Ross. Ross would later include it on the international version of her 1991 album The Force Behind The Power.
- Slick Rick appeared on the extended remix of "If I'm Not Your Lover". He would later cameo on "Turn U Out" three years later on Sexy Versus.
- "The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite)" was a mega crossover with R&B stars from several generations, such as Barry White, El DeBarge and James Ingram.
- "Black Tie White Noise", a collaboration with David Bowie.
- Genre Shift: Enforced by Al B. himself. When he decided to switch from rapping to singing, he trained himself for six months straight.
- Gold Digger: "Had Enuf?" and "Missunderstanding" touch on this topic.
- The Mentor: To R&B group Jodeci.
- New Jack Swing: One of the early architects, alongside his cousin Kyle West, Flyte Tyme, Eddie F and Teddy Riley.
- Punny Name: Al B. Sure! is a play on "I'll be sure".
- Record Producer: His cousin Kyle West was always his main producer, and Sure! himself co-produced several songs with West, including his own.
- Singing Voice Dissonance: Al has a sweet, high-register falsetto that can rival Prince's, but his normal speaking voice is rather deep and somewhat guttural.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The subject of "Off On Your Own (Girl)" was based on a girl Al B. tried to court in high school, only to find out she was a lesbian.note The song omits the lesbianism part, but keeps true to how Al was feeling at the time.
- A Wild Rapper Appears!: On various songs:
- Slick Rick appears on the remix of "If I'm Not Your Lover".
- Monie Love appears on a remix of "Missunderstanding".
- Chubb Rock appears on "Ooh 4 You, Girl", "Channel J" and it's remix "See The Lady".
- Rakim appears on "Kick In The Head"
- Grand Puba appears on "Ooh 4 You, Girl".