Album Review: X by Chris Brown

Mario M.
4 Min Read

Over a year and a half in the making, Chris Brown’s sixth studio album is finally going to hit stores tomorrow.

X‘s campaign started back in March 2013 when the MJ-esque lead single, “Fine China,” was released. Then came “Don’t Think They Know” featuring the late Aaliyah, which was pulled from the airwaves, and the Nicki Minaj assisted “Love More,” yet there was no album in sight. It is actually commendable how the label has managed to keep it all rolling and, even while serving time in prison, Chris also managed to score a top 10 hit. Five singles later, the fans are going to be hearing the whole thing.

The album is not really a cohesive body of work. The fact that we’ve heard a quarter of it before the collective release has perhaps spoiled the listening experience.  Overall, it’s a collection of possible singles, and collaborations with the hottest current producers on the scene.

The title-track opens the album. It is a confessional song with a strong build up that leads to an explosive final minute or so, where Diplo goes in on the synths taking us all to the club. The lyrics refer to his personal journey and his turbulent relationship both with women and the media. Chris Brown swears to God he’s “moving on” and he’s almost yelling it in an attempt to release the cross he’s been bearing for the past 5 years and to convincingly showcase a new, grown man.

The songs then flow pretty easily on the ear: “Add Me In” is a synthy club jam with a prominent bassline; the singles “Loyal” and “New Flame” then leave us with the sultry “Songs on 12 Play” where the references to the songs on the classic R. Kelly record, become synonymous with sexiness for Chris and Trey Songz who are both looking for a bedroom rendez-vous. Robert Kelly himself then appears on the rather forgettable “Drown In It,” which lacks chemistry between the two singers with its disconnected vocal .

Later on in the album, “Autumn Leaves” is worthy of note for its more minimalistic production and Kendrick Lamar’s verse, which starts with the charm of an André 3000-esque delivery and finishes with the raspiness of Jeezy, over an almost inaudible beat. “Do Better” features the ever pleasant voice of Brandy; “Body Shots” has an intriguing production switch, while the chill “Drunk Texting” is preminently sung in harmony with Jhené Aiko.

Overall the album is a clear step up from his last opus, Fortune, but none of the songs has the enduring quality of some of past his singles such as “She Ain’t You,” “With You” or “Forever.” Perhaps, Chris should’ve continued going in the direction of mixing organic R&B and new trends he had in mind when he first started working on the record, because it feels like that vision got lost on the long way leading to X‘s release. There is way more of the modern stuff and less of the classic sound he had promised to deliver.




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