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Fans of Hip-Hop Sleepers Get Sleepy

As a member of Organized Noise, Sleepy Brown has helped define Atlanta's signature sound.
As a member of Organized Noise, Sleepy Brown has helped define Atlanta's signature sound.

His name may not grab headlines, but Sleepy Brown has written songs and produced CDs for some of America's biggest R&B names — including Brandy, OutKast and TLC — and his voice can be heard on hits like OutKast's "I Like the Way You Move." Working as part of the production team Organized Noise, Brown has helped lay the foundation for the silky hip-hop that has become Atlanta's signature sound.

It's puzzling that this much-admired vocalist, producer and songwriter (the son of Jimmy Brown, singer for the funk band Brick) managed to release a solo album as soulful as Mr. Brown without more people taking notice. While the disc's melodies occasionally sound salvaged from the era of the 8-track, they're lovingly textured and embellished with thoughtful samples that make the songs sound both fresh and familiar.

An excellent example is "Margarita," a hooky fusion of hip-hop, jazz and mid-'70s midnight-hour soul. At first, Brown's liquid falsetto may take listeners back to the roller rink, but over time, "Margarita" sounds less retro than cutting edge — another step in the ongoing maturation of hip-hop.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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David Brown
David Browne is a contributing editor of Rolling Stone and the author of Goodbye 20th Century: A Biography of Sonic Youth and Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, Spin and other outlets. He is currently at work on Fire and Rain, a book that will track the lives and careers of The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young during the pivotal year of 1970.