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Brooke Valentine – Physical Education

13 June 2006 No Comment

Brooke Valentine’s “rhythm and crunk” hit “Girlfight,” produced by Lil’ Jon, jumpstarted last year a resurgence of hip-hop from Houston that also included other H-Town natives Mike Jones, Paul Wall, and Slim Thug. In addition to releasing her debut, the Subliminal Entertainment/Virgin Records CHAIN LETTER, Brooke also recorded “Boogie Oogie Oogie” with Fabolous and Yo Yo as the lead single from the soundtrack for the Fox Searchlight Pictures film Roll Bounce. Without taking a break, Brooke returns in 2006 with her sophomore set, PHYSICAL EDUCATION, an album that more clearly boasts her vocal and songwriting talents and features production for Deja The Great and appearances from Tyrese, Pimp C, and Krazyie Bone.

“A lot of songs on CHAIN LETTER were real gimmicky and didn’t call for a lot of ad-libs or singing,” Brooke explains about the set co-written with Subliminal Entertainment head Deja. “And because of that, some people thought I couldn’t sing. That won’t happen this time. A lot of people who have heard the new album are flipping out.”

Several ballads on PHYSICAL EDUCATION give Brooke an opportunity to showcase her skills honed from growing up singing solos in her grandmother’s church, talent shows, and studio sessions beginning as a young teen.

Brooke sparks chills as she belts her way through “Baby,” which is essentially her version of D’Angelo’s 1996 sensuous mid-tempo favorite “Lady.” In “Rub It In,” a sexy, conversational bump and grind duet with Tyrese, she lets the multi-media superstar know that she’s fully aware of his infidelity, but decidedly deals with it. She captures the essence of Jodeci on the booming slow jam “Show Stopper” and thumping homie, lover, friend track “Can’t Be Your Girl.”

Brooke recorded a solo version of “Rub It In” for CHAIN LETTER, but it did not make the album. But when Deja played the song for Tyrese, he loved it, so they arranged to have him sing it with Brooke. “It was fun working with Tyrese,” Brooke says. “He was real laid back, real cool. Because of the song’s subject, I think performing it as a duet made it stronger.”

Brooke’s vocal styling stands out, especially in era dominated by either over singing or thin, airy vocals. “On this album, I stepped up and did more vocal production,” Brooke explains. “Deja runs a company, so he could not be in the studio with me all of the time. But it worked out. Because I wrote on every song, I already knew how I wanted it to sound.”

For her “Girlfight” fans, PHYSICAL EDUCATION includes numerous staple hip-hop infused tracks. The album’s first single, “Dope Girl,” featuring Pimp C, is a clever, metaphorical anthem fueled by Brooke’s deep, sultry vocals, and a sample of the N.W.A. classic “Dopeman.” “Guys always say, ‘I need a girl that’s down for me,'” Brooke says about her motivation for writing the song. “That’s a dopegirl. Guys are going to be like, ‘That’s the kind of girl I like.'”

Brooke also puts a spin on another hip-hop great, Scarfaces’ “F**k Faces” from his 1998 My Homies album. In the original, Scarface and the other featured rappers, talk about sexing gold digging women. In Brooke’s version, she tells her man that she has become accustomed to and desires the “finer things” because he has spoiled her.

Krayzie Bone guests on “My Hood.” And Brooke quips an impressive fast-paced rap like flow on the snap music offering “Sticky Icky.”

All of the talk of sex and love helped prompt the album title PHYSICAL EDUCATION. “This album is way sexier,” Brooke says. “CHAIN LETTER wasn’t really that sexy. P.E. is about living, being physical and going through this life with different emotions. I really put a lot of myself into. A lot of my life experiences. My confessions, things that I never told a soul. I’m telling the world.”

But exposing such vulnerability did not deter Brooke from stepping out of her comfort zone. “It is scary,” Brooke confesses, “but I’m ready to live life, try new things, and hear what the fans have to say and let them hear what I have to say. I feel like that’s the way that we grow in life.”

Broke first realized her singing talent when she was a 10-year-old fifth grader. During one recess she mustered up the courage to join a group of kids who were singing a capella. Her on the spot performance impressed her classmates and teachers. Her family also recognized her gift. Soon after, her grandmother began calling her out in church to sing gospel standards such as “His Eyes Are On The Sparrow” for the congregation.

Brooke continued to sing in her spare time. When she was 14, she met Deja in a Houston mall. When she learned that he was a producer, she told him about her singing aspirations. After an audition, he immediately added her to a female R&B trio called BKS (Best Kept Secret). The group performed statewide and abroad, but decided to go their separate ways after high school. Still dedicated to her entertainment career, Brooke continued on as a solo artist.

To increase her record deal opportunities, Deja set up a Subliminal Entertainment office in Los Angeles, and Brooke also relocated to Southern California. It was not long before they secured a deal with Virgin Records.

“I want to be the mouthpiece for my listeners,” Brooke says. “Everybody can’t be on the radio. So I want that girl or that guy to sit at home and go, ‘Yeah. That’s what I would have said.’ That’s what I want.”

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