Search query All Results. Alec Baldwin on Sean Connery: 'No One Was Cooler', How Donald Trump Plans to Overthrow American Democracy, Sean Connery, Oscar-Winning James Bond Actor, Dead at 90, Go Inside a Zoom Horror Film With ‘Take This Lollipop 2’, Inside ‘Queen: The Neal Preston Photographs’, Inside the Past and Possible Future of ‘Hannibal,’ Now on Netflix, Mekons Fight off Darkness with Stout Hearts and Great Songs on ‘Exquisite’, Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger: 20 Essential Songs, Song You Need to Know: Archers of Loaf, ‘Raleigh Days’. The best place to start a review of Brown’s strengths and weaknesses is his voice, a finicky instrument that lies at the core of his appeal. The rest of his debut is less provocative — full of puppy-love heartache and doe-eyed laments about being too young to hit the club, Chris Brown is innocuous enough for the Teen People set, which is part of the problem. Sign up for our newsletter. And speaking of sprawl, the album isn’t helped by its length, either: stretching over an hour in length (and longer still in its deluxe form, stuffed with the singles that failed to launch the record in the first place), it’s tough to digest in one large sitting, and is rendered repetitive by recycled lyrical motifs and anemic production. https://ratingsgamemusic.com/2019/06/28/chris-brown-indigo-album-review It begs the question: other than a vehicle for record sales and controversy clicks, who is Chris Brown as an artist? Chris Brown is boosted by production from Scott Storch and an appearance by Juelz Santana. Chris Brown Articles and Media. He's a refreshing presence, a high-schooler who's neither as family friendly as Will Smith nor as comically vulgar as Pretty Ricky. Brown's voice suggests both Usher and a young Jacko, but his charms are often lost in the album's plush, listless production and undercooked songs. (Had Brown been coming up in the early '90s, Quincy Jones -- not Dr. Dre -- might've produced him and Prince -- not Luther Campbell -- might've assisted, which just goes to show how much R&B has changed in 15 years.) The agility in his vice also pairs well with the strain of minimal electro-R&B currently in vogue, openly lecherous and hanging on two or three note melodies; the aforementioned “Loyal,” a stunner thanks to the writing of sordid rising star Ty Dolla $ign, and DJ Mustard knock-off/Akon feature “Came to Do” are both solid examples of the form. Chris Brown Articles and Media. The qualities Brown lacks are thrown into harsh light when he’s placed alongside other male singers on some of the collaborations on X: Usher, Trey Songz, and R. Kelly all appear in the album’s first half and glide effortlessly alongside Brown, fluttering around him or summoning a sort of slippery salaciousness that makes him sound childlike by comparison. Sean Connery, 'Original' James Bond, Dies at 90, The 5 Best New TV Shows Our Critic Watched in October 2020, The Disastrous Swedish Approach to Fighting COVID-19, You can unsubscribe at any time. Though he’s undoubtedly skilled, he doesn’t have the emotional depth or richness of tone required to successfully convey affection or generate a palpable mood; rather than drum up true feeling, he tends to sing about sex like it’s an athletic event, and about relationships as if they’re purely transactional in nature. He doesn't often try to sound harder or more demonstrative than necessary, unlike a lot of singers his age who have sprouted during the late '90s and early 2000s, and he rarely oversteps the kind of romantic territory that most teens find relatable. Even as he spent much of this year bouncing between treatment and custody, his single “Loyal” lingered in the top 10 of both the pop and R&B charts; it achieved a level of cultural penetration (as measured by tweets and spin-off memes) matched by few songs released this year. By signing up you are agreeing to our, Chris Brown Gives Ray Rice Advice So He Doesn't 'Become a Monster', The Trump Campaign Is Trying to Suppress the Black Vote, Sign up to receive the top stories you need to know now on politics, health and more, © 2020 TIME USA, LLC. Send us a tip using our anonymous form. In the first half of this decade, he’s released four top 10 singles and two #1 albums, with features on dozens of other minor hits. All Rights Reserved. The intense, continuous coverage of Brown’s legal drama, personal problems, and relationships casts a shadow on the fact that he remains one of pop and R&B’s most reliable hitmakers, more than a half-decade after his assault of then-girlfriend Rihanna threw his white-hot career into jeopardy. This album is an hour’s worth of evidence that no such interest exists. It’s thin, nimble, and agile, and possessed of surprising range; in many ways, it’s the musical manifestation of Brown’s skill as a dancer, his other major talent. face, and compare it to the photo spread inside, featuring Brown's natural "Pinch my cheeks!" That's no slight feat, especially for a reheated version of Usher's "Yeah!" We want to hear from you! While Brown's audience will be almost exclusively 18 and under, few of his fans will feel sheepish in owning this album. Toughness comes instead from the beats, whether they're provided by the Underdogs, Dre & Vidal, Cool & Dre, or the overworked Storch. Skip to content . On "Run It!," Chris Brown is boosted by production from Scott Storch and an appearance by Juelz Santana. Chris Brown is a sixteen-year-old Virginia soulster riding a hot single, "Run It!," a de-crunked "Yeah!" It would be naive and wrongheaded to suggest that artistic achievement is the only appropriate motivation for musicians, or the driving force behind the music industry — but there’s a transparency and a spinelessness to X that makes it hard to connect with Brown as a creative human force, rather than a melody delivery mechanism. Brown has been preparing his new album, the simply titled X, for nearly eighteen months, though it’s been plagued a series of delays and singles that failed to make a lasting impression on the charts. was released, it went straight to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and became the first single from a male artist to debut at that spot. © Copyright 2020 Rolling Stone, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media, LLC. That’s perfectly fine, of course. that gets by thanks to a slinky synth beat and the mix of smooth seduction and cunning come-ons in Brown's baby-mack vocals. The song's way of tempering Brown 's small-town innocence with hard-edged backing and a guest spot from an MC of ill repute is clearly a strategy to make the singer appeal to more than tween girls. Chris Brown, a durable debut album, almost always involves an even push-and-pull between what appeals to kids who don't consider street credibility and those who do, all the way down to the visuals: check the album cover, featuring the singer's strained "Don't mess with me!" Want more Rolling Stone? The overall impression is that of an artist whose guiding light is commercial performance, rather than any sort of creative aspirations or overarching identity. You’d think at this point in his career — X is his sixth studio album, and he’s been a major star for nearly a decade — that Brown would have a decent handle on his comfort zones and weaknesses, that he would show even a passing interest in achieving some sort of cohesiveness or in doubling down on his strengths. The week "Run It!" Pockmarked by stints in rehab and jail, mandated court appearances, and a shooting at his pre-VMA party this summer, 2014 has ended up another tumultuous year in a string of many for Chris Brown. (This was true even before he wrote and released a song called “Add Me In” that happens to couch a marathon bedroom session in hacky math metaphors galore.). Chris Brown is a sixteen-year-old Virginia soulster riding a hot single, "Run It!," a de-crunked "Yeah!" Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our, Review: Chris Brown Chases Hits, But Mostly Misses, on. The song's way of tempering Brown's small-town innocence with hard-edged backing and a guest spot from an MC of ill repute is clearly a strategy to make the singer appeal to more than tween girls. made by a fresh-faced teenager who reps a little town in Virginia that rhymes with "grab a hammock." It’s hard to get a handle on X because so much of the album is spent trend-chasing: there’s big tent EDM-pop with super-producers like Diplo and Danja, straightforwardly filthy R&B slow jams, moody relationship ballads, and even a folky crossover bid that sounds like a Phillip Phillips castoff, all contained within the album’s sprawl. The best place to start a review of Brown’s strengths and weaknesses is his voice, a finicky instrument that lies at the core of his appeal. The final product is a widely varied mishmash of genres, producers, and collaborators that fails to achieve any sort of tonal or thematic consistency. Pitchfork is the most trusted voice in music. He sounds best on the songs where he can excitedly flit around, dipping in between zippy electro-funk riffs or sweaty synthesizer lines; “Add Me In,” dopey R. Kelly homage “Songs on 12 Play,” and the strobe-lit “Body Shots” all shine. face. And that’s unfortunate, because given his long and well-documented history of personal strife — abuse, homophobia, cool defensiveness — that kind of basic human connection is the kind of thing Brown could probably stand to cultivate.