Heat seems to follow Chris Brown. On the heels of his latest well-publicized blunder, the star’s image has been subjected to renewed public flogging. But tell that to his rabid fans who are standing by their man, pushing sales of his latest album, F.A.M.E, to the top of the charts. (With a projected tally of over 250,000 copies sold, F.A.M.E (Brown’s fourth album) is set to debut atop the Billboard 200 next week.)
Back in 2009, amidst his last attempt at image rehabilitation (for you know what), the 21-year-old put out Graffiti, but that failed to match the critical and commercial success of his previous releases. F.A.M.E delivers more effective doses of the singer’s trademark danceable R&B jams and the unavoidable pop and hip hop influences over regular club-ready, block-party beats from an army of production stalwarts and worthy newcomers. And with the overwhelmingly warm reception, look for Chris Brown singles to stay in constant rotation on radio and video playlists all year.
It wouldn’t be a Chris Brown record without a few bedroom knockers and songs that address the experience of finding a girl, losing her and wanting her back. On the emotional, self-penned ballad “All Back” there’s an ocean of regret over the collapse of a love affair, while he greedily pines for a former flame while in the arms of another on the 90s-R&B-sampling “She Ain’t You.” Staying on trend, but in a tone that screams ‘good riddance,’ he vows to move on after a failed romance on the monster hit “Deuces,” featuring slick verses from writer-producer Kevin McCall and Tyga.
Maintaining that collaborative streak, he teams up with rapper The Game for the bass-heavy, swag-drenched “Love The Girls”; Justin Bieber shows up for the lukewarm “Next To You”; Ludacris guests on the sexed-up “Wet The Bed” and “Bomb” features of-the-moment rapper Wiz Khalifa.
But Brown shines most on cuts that celebrate living it up in the most adventurous and fun-driven sense, as on the hyper-kinetic hit “Yeah (3X)” and the fan-favourites “Beautiful People” and “Look At Me Now,” which finds him holding his own (as a budding MC with genuine potential) while keeping company with Lil’ Wayne and Busta Rhymes.
Brown has stressed that F.A.M.E stands for both ‘Forgiving All My Enemies’ and ‘Fans Are My Everything,’ but considering the album’s appeal to a largely teen/young adult demographic (not to mention their unwavering support of the artist), the latter is more fitting and seems to hold much more meaning.
BEST TRACKS: “Deuces,” “She Ain’t You,” “Yeah (3X),” and “All Back”