“I swear to God I’m moving on,” shouts Chris Brown on the opening track of his latest album ‘X.’ It’s a solid statement and something that we’ve all be waiting to hear. ‘X’ has been flagged by numerous setbacks but finally the album we’ve been waiting for has arrived. Does it live up to expectations? Some say yes, but most say no.
Now is the perfect time for Chris Brown to make a serious comeback and be talked about solely for his musical prowess. It’s time for Brown to remind us why, when he first burst on to the scene as a fresh-faced sixteen year old, he was compared to the likes of Michael Jackson and Usher. Those comparisons were completely warranted at the time and could still be relevant today if only he would step up to the plate.
The past couple of album’s Chris has released have been a bit lacklustre. The likes of ‘F.A.M.E’ and ‘Fortune,’ while they produced some serious chart toppers, just weren’t enough to put Brown on top again. Unfortunately, ‘X’ sounds too like those previous releases and that’s just not good enough. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Brown’s music and even though every lyric of ‘Loyal’ goes against everything I stand for as a woman I still can’t help but sing along. He knows how to create a hit but he’s still learning how to create a substantial album.
As I mentioned at the beginning, Chris kicks the whole LP off with lines like “I ain’t going back no more” and “I can make you a believer if I turn the nonsense down.” ‘X’ is a promising start with its heartfelt verses and Diplo produced EDM breakdown. Sadly, there just aren’t enough gems like this to carry Chris back into Usher or MJ territory. In fact, he slips into R.Kelly mode which definitely isn’t a good thing. While his Trey Songz assisted ’12 Play’ which pays homage to Kells is actually quite good it’s ‘Drown In It’ which features Kelly himself that just lets everything down being more sleazy that sexy.
There aren’t any bad songs on ‘X’ just forgettable ones. Tracks like ‘Came To Do’ which features Akon, ‘Stereotype,’ ‘Time For Love’ and the folksy ‘See You Around’ just don’t really cut it. It sort of feels like the whole thing was thrown together with no real thought process. Chris wanted to work with everyone and try his hand at some different sounds which is commendable but just a little too much for this record.
Even though the whole album doesn’t live up to expectations there are a few gems to be found on ‘X.’ Some of the chances Chris takes on this LP really do pay off, like the Kendrick Lamar assisted ‘Autumn Leaves.’ Sounding like it came straight from a Drake album, this track shows the vulnerable side to Chris that we really don’t see often enough. It’s so refreshing to hear Brown like this and is a look at what he can be and is fighting to be. Other tracks you have to listen to come in the form of ‘Do Better’ which features Brandy and ‘Drunk Texting’ with our favourite Jhené Aiko. Brown also shines on the MJ inspired ‘Add Me In.’ Even with the cheesy mathematical lyrics it’s a song, like ‘Fine China,’ that shows Chris in a superstar light. Then you have ‘New Flame’ which features Usher and Rick Ross and hears Brown singing with the big boys.
I found myself disappointed at the end of ‘X,’ not because it was a bad album but because I know Chris can do so much better. He has a lot more in him and there were some promising moments throughout the collection that showed us just what he could be again. ‘X’ is a valiant effort to win back peoples trust and while it falls just a little short, it’s a step in the right direction. At least he’s trying!