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Ushering in the unforgettable era of new jack swing, R&B superstars Bobby Brown and Keith Sweat have continued to transcend beyond their respective reigns in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, so it’s only right they come together and go head-to-head for the culture. The two icons will face off as part of a special ESSENCE Festival of Culture VERZUZ Battle this Thursday, July 1 at 8 p.m. EST.

Both musicians have penned, produced and of course, sung chart-topping hits and remain influential figures in not only the world of R&B but have also had an impact in the realms of hip-hop and even soul. In celebration of the upcoming battle of the ages, we’ve rounded up all the singles we want to hear from the “King of R&B” since his time with New Edition and from his breakout solo career.

Check out the jams we’re waiting to hear from Keith Sweat here. And catch the battle live Thursday night on Essence.com.

  1. Girlfriend

“Girlfriend” was Brown’s debut solo single since leaving New Edition and went straight to number one on the R&B charts in October 1986.

  1. My Prerogative 

This one basically goes without saying since it went number one on Billboard’s Hot 100, earned Brown a Grammy nomination and has been sampled endless times since its 1988 release.

  1. Every Little Step

The moves in the video for “Every Little Step” alone have cemented a place in history. The tune also earned Brown his first Grammy.

  1. Don’t Be Cruel

Listen, it really would be cruel not to hear this one on Thursday since it spent weeks topping the R&B charts after its May 1988 debut.

  1. Roni

Remember when every girl wanted to be Bobby’s “tenderoni” when this song dropped? So, yes, we’re hoping to definitely hear this one.

  1. Rock With’cha

Now this is a song that we can rock with at any time and will always be a classic.

  1. Girl Next Door

Talk about another ballad guaranteed to make you swoon with memories, “Girl Next Door” came knockin’ in 1986.

  1. Humpin’ Around 

Besides the beat and dance moves featured in the video, the title…speaks for itself, don’t you think?

  1. Get Away

“Get Away” served as one of Brown’s hits from his third album, and is definitely a must-hear.

  1. Good Enough 

This love song, also spawning from the album Bobby, is a ballad unlike any other and still serves as more than just “good enough.”

  1. Something in Common

His duet with the late Whitney Houston was surely something to behold and deserves a spot on this list without a doubt.

  1. Candy Girl

Now, is it a Bobby Brown battle? Of course. But we would be remiss not to include his work while in New Edition in this epic showdown, with Candy Girl for starters.

  1. Cool It Now

“Cool It Now” was the group’s first top ten pop single and still remains in the hearts of fans everywhere.

  1.  Mr. Telephone Man

“Mr. Telephone Man” continues to be a hit and just an all-around undeniable classic that we’re sure we know every single word of.

  1.  On Our Own

A popular single spawning from the Ghostbusters 2 Soundtrack, “On Our Own” became yet another top-ten hit for Brown in 1989.

  1.  Stone Cold Gentleman 

Brown was featured on New Edition member Ralph Tresvant’s hit single in 1991 and the response to it is still anything but stone cold.

  1.  She Aint Worth It

This was also another unforgettable feature of Brown’s, which had him alongside singer Glenn Medeiros and earned him his second number one on the pop chart.

  1. That’s The Way Love Is

This R&B ballad was released in 1993 and is still oh-so-special to us until this day.

  1. Two Can Play That Game

The song, which had a bit of success on its own, became a monster hit once remixed by the electronic group K-Klass and peaked at number three on the U.K. singles chart.

  1.  Thug Lovin’

And what better way to close it out with his epic duet with none other than Ja Rule? That 2002 hit still stays rent-free in our heads honestly.


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