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Fame. It is earned by people for either remarkable achievement or scandalous behaviour. However, for Chris Brown it occurs as a result of both.
Whether being praised for his brilliant live performances or scolded for his notorious actions, Brown has been the focus of media attention since his debut. However, the entertainer has managed to channel these pressures into a body of work that may very well be his best album to date.
Aptly entitled ‘F.A.M.E’, the 13-track LP demonstrates the versatility of an artist who, regardless of the tabloid headlines, has both the talent and passion to become a lasting figure in the music industry.
Experimenting with an array of sounds, Brown gives listeners the opportunity to hear the full extent of his artistry on ‘F.A.M.E’. On songs such as the club-thumping Pop single, ‘Yeah 3x’, and its infectious followup, ‘Beautiful People (Ft. Benny Benassi)’, he ventures further into the genre of Dance/Pop; a seemingly natural progression for a performer who scored a massive hit with ‘Forever’ from his ‘Exclusive’ album in 2008.
Yet, unlike most of his peers, Brown has not abandoned his Urban roots in favour of finding success on the Pop bandwagon. Instead, he provides a healthy mix of material that features several Hip-Hop and R&B tracks, most of which he co-wrote himself.
Brown flexes his rap skills alongside Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne on ‘Look At Me Now’ and while he is certainly outshone by his more experienced guests, his delivery over the Diplo-produced beat is quite impressive. Thankfully, however, Brown keeps the focus on singing for the rest of the album, hopefully giving his rhymes a break until his next mixtape.
Those hoping to hear the capabilities of Brown’s voice would enjoy songs such as ‘Up To You’, ‘No BS (Ft. Kevin McCall)’ and ‘Should’ve Kissed You’. Unfortunately, on what is possibly Brown’s best vocal showing to date, ‘All Back’ is unpleasantly diluted with studio effects that shroud his voice behind distracting distortions.
Indeed, most of the additions to this album actually weaken it instead of helping Brown’s cause, a point that also applies to his collaborators. Justin Bieber’s flat, emotionless and blatantly annoying attempts at singing almost ruin the drum-driven ‘Next To You’ which was brilliantly produced by The Messengers.
On the unexpected hit ‘Deuces’ Kevin McCall does his best impersonation of Drake but the result is as interesting as one of the songs on Lil Kim’s ‘Black Friday’. Even Ludacris sounds awkward and out of place on ‘Wet The Bed’; a far cry from the brilliance of his classic hit ‘Splash Waterfalls’. Both records truly sound as though Brown is carrying his guests across the finish line and could have only benefited with the omission of their verses.
Other stumbles on the album include the ill advised Michael Jackson sample on ‘She Ain’t You’ as well as the confusing ‘Say It With Me’ which was clearly over-produced.
Still, regardless of a few missteps, Brown delivered a solid album with ‘F.A.M.E’. As he continues to find himself as a songwriter and diversify his audience, Brown proves his true dynamism as an artist.
Once consumers manage to look pass the media propaganda, he could very well enjoy similar success to Usher’s Grammy Award-winning ‘Raymond vs Raymond’ LP. Fans may be his everything as the ‘F.A.M.E’ acronym suggests but a platinum plaque and Grammy gold would certainly be an enjoyable bonus.