– X – Album Review by Kerika Fields
Artist: Chris Brown
Label: Jive Records, RCA/ Jive Label Group, RCA Records, Zomba Group of Companies, LBW Entertainment
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Yeah, I know. A writer whose book is about bad relationships should probably not be reviewing a Chris Brown album, for obvious reasons. But slow your roll. I’m really rooting for the kid! I remember how hot his first album was when it hit and even had the privilege of photographing one of his performances, live. He’s talented, thats for sure. But with all his shenanigans off stage the focus has shifted away from what matters most: The Music.
With the long awaited release of his sixth album, Chris Brown attempts to deflect from his demons by delivering a jam packed project filled with promise. Unfortunately with a title like X” its hard not to think about his famous former flame especially since he sings about love, the loss of love, and making love a lot.
The album’s title track kicks things off with a cut that is heavy laden with electronic beats and strong sentiments: “I swear to God, I’m moving on” he sings as if he is trying to convince himself that this is indeed doable. But when he begins chanting repeatedly I ain’t going back no more well, lets just say, me thinks he doth protest too much.
And how does a young guy get over losing his girl? He grabs his boys, gets lit, then heads to the club, of course. This is exactly what Chris Breezy Brown does on the track “Loyal (feat. Lil Wayne and Tyga). Despite the track’s title, he is not extolling the virtues of monogamy here. He’s expressing his distrust of women while he’s up in the club trying to make a broke b—h rich and getting a white b—h with fake tits because “These ho’s ain’t loyal. Thankfully the song’s groove grabs your ear (which is why its already a hit!) despite the trifling topic (Tyga raps:”Rich young n—a, my chains got bigger…”).
The bromance continues with “New Flame” where he shows off his sensitive side and formidable falsetto while being usurped by Usher who asks “Who says you can’t find love in the club?” But before you can think Chris is getting too soft there’s a hard rap from the reliable Rick Ross. Then on the cut Songs on 12 Play (featuring Trey Songs) Breezy tries his hand at baby making music and does not fail miserably despite his commands to “Turn on that red light. The song’s title refers to R. Kelly‘s 1993 debut album 12 Play and Chris Brown never lets listeners forget it as he moans “Keep it on the down low” and “Feeling on your booty. After a brief interlude the sexxxiness continues. The real R. Kelly croons on the track “Drown in It” with Chris singing simultaneously, “I’ll be the surf board between your waves girl we be goin up down drip drop dont stop…splashin in your deep end…I wanna drown in it.
After that, Akon takes his turn on the track Came to Do whose funky beat gets the head bobbing and will surely get the club jumping.
Just when things start getting crowded and a tad bit monotonous (does he really need all that auto-tuned assistance?) with a track titled Stereotypes, he reigns supreme as he sings alone with the help of old-school soul samplings on Time For Love. On Autumn Leaves (feat. Kendrick Lamar) the album takes a turn for the better thanks to smooth jazzy undertones and lyrics that reek of remorse and reflection.
Leave it to the ladies to breathe fresh air into Breezy. Brandy does the damn thing on Do Better, Jhene Aiko harmoniously holds her own on Drunk Text, while Nikki Minaj shows up on Love More in time to spit I got these n—-s whipped, just call me Django.
X saves the best for next to last with Dont They Know. Here we are treated to the sweet sound of the late Aaliyahs velvety vocals. Aaliyah and Breezy are perfectly paired here as they rework the words to Jon Bs classic hit into a sublime fit: Dont listen to what people say, they dont know about you and me
Finally there is Fine China the hit song which was released almost a year ago so you probably already know it. Still, its a strong song thanks to its Michael Jackson-influenced beats. Here is also where Chris Brown reveals his reverence for his lady love with the lyrics Youre irreplaceable just like fine China. If X had more of this vibe going on instead of sounds reminiscent of work on his earlier albums Exclusive (2007) and Fame (2011), I would be more excited.
But, like with lost loves, we cant live life ruminating over how things could have turned out, can we? No. We have to take things as they are. And as for X – it is what it is, which isnt (except for Aaliyahs appearance) anything new.
Dont They Know
About the Author : Kerika Fields is a Brooklyn-based writer and photographer who is the author of Hes Gone Youre Back! The Right Way to Get Over Mr. Wrong. (Kensington Publishing)