Release Date: Jul 3, 2012
Record label: RCA
Genre(s): Pop, R&B, Dance-Pop, Contemporary R&B
Brown's fifth LP sounds great on the surface: "Bassline" is based on an elegant dubstep wobble, and his vocal on "Stuck on Stupid" matches its midtempo grandeur. But deep listening means getting cozy with a guy so reviled mosquitoes won’t bite him; Brown brags about his extra-large condoms, and, on "Don’t Judge Me," turns a tender love song into a Twitter rant against "haters." It will have a broad audience. Listen to 'Fortune' Related• Photos: Random Notes .
Sharing space with only a few towards the forefront of today’s popular R&B culture, Chris Brown’s iconic status and celebrity have reached a fever pitch that has yet to cool down despite the sporadic controversies surrounding him. While his character tends to be a topic of scrutiny, he has earned the undying support of a massive following (commonly known as “Team Breezy”) thanks to an overall charisma that includes the package of boyish looks, a big smile, strong vocals and complex choreography. A quick follow up to the success of last year’s F.A.M.E.
If there was one lesson to take away from the Hulk in The Avengers, it’s that repressing anger will get you nowhere. Once you learn to deal with it and even harness it, then you can defeat your demons (or, in the Hulk’s case, a Norse god). Maybe someone should take Chris Brown to the cineplex, because Fortune, his fifth album and his third since pleading guilty to assaulting then girlfriend Rihanna in February 2009, furthers the uncomfortable and frustrating disconnect between Brown’s hotheaded personal life and his oddly edgeless musical persona.
F.A.M.E. was Chris Brown's first album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200. Five of its singles went Top Five R&B/Hip-Hop, and it took the Grammy for Best R&B Album. The singer clearly feels more emboldened than ever, as he declares in Fortune's second song, the slow motion boom and wobble that is "Bassline": "I'm winnin', you heard about my image, but I could give a flyin' motherfuck who's offended." Save for a handful of quasi-sensitive ballads that come across as insincere, Fortune is an album of unapologetic swashbuckling.
Brown's fifth album includes a song called Don't Judge Me. But even if we could forget his assault on Rihanna in 2009, there's much other ugly stuff here to judge. Strip comes with a Benny Hill bounce and all the nuance of a beered-up uni lad as Brown bellows "Panties! Bra! Take it off!" The song 2012 is an apocalypse-prompted come-on, a slow jam outrageous enough (the end of the world obliges him to get it on in an "earth-shakin'" way) to sound like parody trio The Lonely Island.
Chris Brown may be a grown, 23-year old man at this point but he still sings like a 15-year old, and consistently provides the subject matter to make the sound feel appropriate. The stakes on Fortune are consistently as high as they can possibly be in the way only an adolescent can see them: the end of the world, one chance life-changing sex, music as substitute for carbon or water, Magnum condoms, the finest girls and the trillest marijuana. Perhaps most importantly, the women Brown comes in contact with come complete with majestically moist vaginas.
Fortune’s never a terrible record – it just feels like a pointless one. Nick Levine 2012 Chris Brown’s last album, 2011's F.A.M.E., debuted at the top of the US chart. This one, Fortune, has already spawned a UK number one single called Turn Up the Music. Even Rihanna seems to have forgiven him – controversially, she recruited her ex to appear on a recent remix.