The title of Chris Brown’s upcoming album, F.A.M.E. is an acronym that stands for Forgiving All My Enemies. It’s a peculiar title considering Mr. Brown spends most of this album singing about love, love lost, casual sex and casual sex with girls he doesn’t love. Maybe since he’s forgiven his enemies, he has chosen not to make songs about them.
That’s not to say F.A.M.E. is a bad album. On the contrary, Chris Brown’s fourth release is a nice mix of pop, R&B and dance with a little dabbling in retro rock. It’s not an original combination by any means, but he does it well. His voice is strong and the songs are nicely constructed. This might even allow you to forgive him for Graffiti.
The already known and loved “Deuces,” featuring Tyga and Kevin McCall, leads with “Up 2 You” following. It’s a pretty piano and string driven song about a woman who has managed to put a spell on the young bachelor. The juxtaposition of I love you/ I love you not is common on this album as Mr. Brown sorts though all the convoluted themes involved in adult relationships. “No Bullshit” and “Look At Me Now,” with Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne round out the first quarter of the LP with a bang. This isn’t a case of pushing all of the cream to the top either. There is some depth to this album.
“She Ain’t You” is an interpolation of SWV’s “Right Here” which famously samples Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.” The song rocks simply from that legendary connection. It’s not the only MJ element either, but when has Chris Brown ever denied being a Michael Jackson fan? “Say It With Me” has a foreboding intro, featuring a pulsing warning siren that sharply drops into a frenetic, somewhat confusing foundation for the verses. The chorus is breezy, Michael –esque dance material that even comes with the “Woooooo’s” at the end of the lines. Nice
F.A.M.E. does come with some missteps though. His duet with Justin Bieber, “She’s Not You” is a lot better in theory than it does on wax. Tribal drums and a punchy synth line drive this mid-tempo dance jam aimed at their extra special lady interests. The song is a draggy, sap-filled romp through a little girl’s fantasy to bag her favorite pop star. It’s boring, but considering this pair’s fan bases, necessary. The afro-beat chants near the end are strangely amusing. “All Back” is an attempt at stadium balladry that incorporates some cool elements that don’t vibe well together. Imagine a Carrie Bradshaw outfit turned into a song. The hollow snare sitting at the top, the 70’s rock construction and those shrieks at the end are strange bedfellows on one track. Nevertheless, the concept of Breezy coercing F.A.M.E. back into his life through song is very interesting. Take a close listen ladies, he’s singing to the bright lights, not you. Ludacris’ feature on “Wet The Bed,” the nasty song of the collection, is disappointing.
The dance songs all have a retro feel. “Oh My Love” even tries to reach back into the days of original disco while maintaining its modern sound. The track is a nice homage, but not for everyone. Benny Benassi gave Chris a great old school house track for “Beautiful People.” This again is an acquired taste, but for those who can deal in house, this is a great song. From the build on the front to Chris’ delivery to the theme of self love, it’s all just grand.
F.A.M.E. is a solid return for Chris Brown. Well, that’s if you thought he ever went anywhere. There is nothing groundbreaking or award winning here, but the album is a safe step back into the spotlight under which Chris longs to linger. If he keeps making albums like this, he will get his wish.
Chris Brown feat. Justin Bieber – “Next 2 You”
3.5 out of 5
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