Album Review: Chris Brown – Graffiti

Chris Brown’s


The Album You Want To Hate

It’s impossible to listen to Chris Brown’s new album without at least considering what’s gone on in his personal life this past year.  If you’ve been living under a rock, I’ll make a long story short; Chris and Rihanna were the cutest little pop couple until Chris beat her black and blue in February.  Now, many are calling his December 8th release of Graffiti intentionally placed to compete with Rihanna’s November 20th release of Rated R.  Others think it might be a callous ploy to make the public forget his transgressions.  Both theories make him look like a dick, but hey, this is an album review, not a rant.
While the album isn’t bad, it’s very Jekyll & Hyde (indicative of his personality? Maybe).  What I mean is that the album is perfectly split between vulnerable, lovey-dovey tracks and pompous, womanizing ones.  On one side, Brown boasts “And when they ask me bout the cars, and the girls and the cribs I just tell ‘em it’s what I do” (‘What I Do’) and “So many different type of women I’m into and I can take them all with me…” (‘Sing Like Me’).  On the other hand he mourns “Tell her I’m sorry, I’m really sorry/ Can you forgive me?/ Please forgive me/ And come back home, keep me safe and warm” (‘So Cold’) and “You don’t want me then I’ll understand/You deserve much more” (‘I’ll Go’).
Out of the 13 tracks, six are on Jekyll’s side and six are on Hyde’s.  ‘Famous Girl’, which is clearly about Rihanna, is a little of both.  Brown sounds remarkably like Justin Timberlake in this one, making it his own version of ‘Cry Me a River’.  The lyrics are a little off-putting considering the real story of how Chris and Rihanna’s relationship ended. Brown claims, “Like damn you let me down, down, down/ Cuz you’re famous girl/ For breakin’ hearts” The lyrics are also comprised mainly of name drops.  Seriously, almost every line is a reference to someone in the industry.  I can’t decide if this is clever writing or a sad plea for friends.  Oddly enough, Brown also emulates Britney Spears later on in the album.  Remember Britney’s “pity me; I’m famous, unhappy and misunderstood” song ‘Lucky’?  Brown’s ‘Lucky Me’ is the exact same thing (apparently he couldn’t think up a more creative title either).
Despite being publicly shunned by a lot of his peers, Brown still managed to round up a few artists to perform with him on Graffiti.  The biggest name on there is Lil Wayne, who is headed to jail for his own misdeeds.  Also featured are Game, Trey Songz, Tank, Plies, Eva Simmons and Swizz Beats.  Now, I don’t profess myself to be a rap connoisseur, but I know that these names aren’t as big as say, Jay-Z, T.I or Kanye West.  And we all know who recorded with these guys this year, don’t we?
Something Brown plays with a bit on this album is everyone’s favourite new toy- Autotune.  It’s most prevalent on his single ‘I Can Transform Ya’, which is the standout track on the album.  He also uses a little on ‘Take My Time’, which sounds a lot like an early-90s Boyz II Men song…except really annoying.  Thankfully, Brown can actually sing and relies more on his talent than the robotics for the most part of the album.
As much as I hate to say it, this album is actually pretty good.  Despite some questionable writing, the production is decent and it definitely has some catchy material.  The way to go about this one is to take it for its surface value and not buy into the lyrics, especially the sappy ones.  Enjoy it for how it sounds rather than for what it means, dance to the upbeat tracks and don’t think too hard about it.
(Original publication: Bring Back the Boom Box Magazine- Dec 16 2009)


About J2

What happens when you're a wordsy music aficionado who works for NXNE, CMW, HPX, Olio Music Festival, The JUNOs and Polaris Music Prize? You spend all of your free time blogging about it... Follow on Twitter if you're so inclined: @HearPlugged

Posted on February 25, 2011, in Album Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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