Chris Brown | FORTUNE (RCA Records)

Chris-Brown-FortuneInstead of channeling that damning time into a work of art, he’s using it to self-destruct.

 

Oh Chris Brown, oh Chris Brown…  After hearing the first single, “Turn up the Music,” I was a bit amped about Brown’s fifth studio album, but as I listened to it, excitement turned into confusion and into disappointment.

His performance of “Don’t Wake Me Up” on the BET Awards was great, the first time in a long time that he has actually sang and danced. I assumed this album to be more on the pop side given its two lead singles, but in short, it’s a terrible attempt to be something that he’s not.

Brown strives to create a balance, to paint and sell a picture of a bad-ass sex fiend on FORTUNE but I’m not buying it and would like a refund. With a fifth album, sure, the artist can play with all the creativity he can muster, but it still should be within the same brand extension as he started out.

Where’s the Chris Brown who produced albums like Exclusive, Graffiti, and F.A.M.E? I understand that, as you grow older and you experience more life, it affects your music, but it seems like ever since that dreaded Grammy night in February 2009, he’s trying to prove to the world that he’s a good guy and to himself that he’s not a bad guy. Yet, instead of channeling that damning time into a work of art, he’s using it to self-destruct his great voice that the world fell in love with as soon as he belted out “With You,” “Crawl,” and “Deuces.”

Luckily, FORTUNE is not completely trash, thanks to a few tracks. Produced by the Messingers, “Don’t Judge Me” pleads to “let it be beautiful” by not judging each other for past mistakes, which is true because we all, no matter how damned our past was have the ability to change. Featuring hip-hop legend Nas, “Mirage” takes listeners on a ride of façades and illusions. The hip-swaying, slowed-down, Jamaican-style track details a case of a girl infatuated with a guy’s image over his words: “A mirage… I’m a mirage (what the fuck I look like)/ It’s all in your mind, your mind (the fuck I look like)/ Open your eyes, you’re blind.”

“Stuck on Stupid” and “4 Years Old” seem to be the connection I was looking for from F.A.M.E. to this album. He’s openly admitting the power love takes over him in the former, and reflects on his childhood and how he’s had to grow in the latter. “It feels  like I’m four years old all over again ‘cause I just keep running fast when I should be walking/ Saying when I grow up you gon’ see I’m gon’ be comfortable and happy/ I’m so alone. I feel so alone, so alone in this world. Got everything I want.”

I think Brown should take a note from Usher, who has learned to explore every genre that allows him artistic ability while still maintaining his brand, which is important to any artist. I appreciate the attempt to be different, I suppose, but it’s not genuine, honest, or Chris Brown. Try again. D- |Ashley White

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