In 2009, on the heels of his felony conviction in the beating of his then-girlfriend Rihanna, Chris Brown released Grafitti, a plodding album that included shrilly defensive responses to his infamy. This time, Brown takes a smarter approach: He's concentrated on making great songs. F.A.M.E. boasts blockbuster hits ("Deuces," "No Bullshit," "Yeah 3X," "Look at Me Now") and shows Brown has a good nose for production: On "Look at Me Now," he rocks with Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne over a sci-fi Orientalist beat from Diplo and Afrojack.
Perhaps the greatest enemy of Chris Brown’s poorly received last album was time. Released in December 2009, just six months after the multiplatinum crooner pleaded guilty to assaulting Rihanna, Graffiti — frankly, not a bad collection at all — was widely panned. Everything from the title of his new disc, F.A.M.E. (an acronym for the off-putting title ”Forgiving All My Enemies”), to his recent nude photos and ill-advised tweets suggests that Brown has not yet mastered the art of image rehabilitation.
Chris Brown's career was trending sharply downward. The singer’s self-titled debut went double platinum. Exclusive went single platinum. 2009’s Graffiti fell well short of gold-sales status, though it was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Contemporary R&B Album: far and away the worst disc to receive the honor.
They say those who refuse the past are doomed to repeat it, but Chris Brown’s past has proven consistently more fascinating than his music. Consequently, it’s no surprise that his domestic assault has always been the go-to topic for media outlets over the last couple of years, no matter how strenuously he tries to escape it. Still, has there been a less spontaneous display of ersatz realness in recent memory than Brown’s much-publicized window-busting, shirt-tearing tantrum backstage at Good Morning America this week, all too coincidentally on the very same day his new album F.A.M.E.
If his latest album's number-one Billboard debut is any indication, Chris Brown is the most beloved pariah in pop music. His marketing strategy for the record was especially clever for someone with an approval rating on a par with Muammar Gaddafi's; the title's an acronym for Fans Are My Everything, a go-for-broke dedication to the core audience (teenage girls and weirdos) that stuck by him even after the whole... you know.
Graffiti may have housed the party hit “Transform Ya”, but otherwise it was a massive trainwreck. Chris Brown was never going to be mistaken for a crooner, but the mismatch of sorrowful lyrics framing Brown as a victim with cold, soulless production just made for bad listening. Between his continued anger problems and his inability to pick decent material to sing, Brown’s career seemed on an ever-downward current.
Brown can sell a club-pop tune like M&S can sell a tuna mayo sarnie Nick Levine 2011 Whether you can hum a Chris Brown hit or not, you're sure to know something about the US RnB singer – chances are concerning his 2009 conviction for the assault of his then girlfriend Rihanna. However, even after brooking the 18-track deluxe version of F.A.M.E. – that acronym stands for both "Fans Are My Everything" and, more tellingly, "Forgiving All My Enemies" – you'll still struggle to answer the question: "Who is Chris Brown?" That's because, on this evidence, the tarnished star has yet to consolidate his artistic identity.
CHRIS BROWN “F.A.M.E.” (Jive). It will be some time before it’s possible to listen to Chris Brown with just one set of ears. Two years ago he assaulted his girlfriend at the time, the singer Rihanna, and has been on a halting path to public rehabilitation ever since. Mostly, he’s been ….