Chris Brown: F.A.M.E.

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Posted May 17, 2011 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0
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Breezy is hard at work developing musical aroma and character reconstruction on scattered-brain fourth disc

“All that bullshit’s for the birds, you ain’t nothing but a vulture,” Chris Brown allegedly sings to his by-gone lover on the opening track of his new album, F.A.M.E. (meaning “forgiving all my enemies”). It isn’t quite the nicest thing for Chris Brown to be opening a record about a past fling (rumored to be about Rihanna, his ex-girlfriend who he inappropriately assaulted in 2009), but the R&B-pop prince, who led a squeaky-clean reputation prior to his felony conviction, is trying to move past his mistakes. On “Deuces,” the 2010 summer single that earned him the thumbs up with his R&B constituents and with the hip-hop world, Brown flexes his swagger across heavy urban beats and Michael Jackson finger-snap suaveness. With emcees Tyga and Kevin McCall spicing up the mix with heavy F-bombs and X-rated chatter, the road for Breezy’s fourth disc seems to be aim for club-laden hardcore pop – or the hardest hip-hop he’s ever tread since 2007’s Exclusive. But F.A.M.E.proves to be a mix bag of nice slow jam grooves (“Up 2 You,” “No Bullshit”), bad boy tirades, club yawners (“Look At Me Now,” “Say It With Me”) and bubblegum-ish rave music (“Yeah 3X,” “Next to You” with Justin Bieber). There’s some glimmers hinting at Brown’s superpowers, like the MJ-sampled “She Ain’t You” or the LED-lit wonderment surrounding “Beautiful People,” but the hindrance of a disproportionate amount of superstar cameos (from Wiz Khalifa to Lil Wayne), immature behavior-atop-mixtape beats and the long playlist tends to stab F.A.M.E. in the side.

Lyrically, Brown wants to prove he’s not the sweet innocent boy of his adolescence, while showing he’s moved on from his dirty episode with Rihanna. The naughty sounds good on “No Bullshit,” but Brown also leaves the window open for criticism for not being the gentleman to get his own jimmy hat (“You already know what time it is/Reach up in that dresser where the condoms is”) . “Beg for It” screams for R&B airplay, even though it sounds as if Trey Songz has already toyed with its beats. But Brown’s vocals seem strained in places and sometimes come across as feeling like Usher’s protégé. Still Breezy should be blessed with the credit: F.A.M.E. is a better improvement over Graffiti and a gentle push in the right direction for an easy-listening hip-pop album – despite the circumstances.

J MATTHEW COBB

HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: 18 March 2011
  • Label: Jive
  • Producers: Alle Benassi, Brian Kennedy, Kevin McCally, H Money, The Messengers, The Stereotypes, The Underdogs, Timbaland, Polow da Don, DJ Frank E, Diplo, Bigg D, Benn Benassi, Afrojack
  • Spin This: “Beautiful People,” “Beg for It,” “Deuces”

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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