Every time we get to a new Chris Brown record we feel slightly torn. There’s no denying that he’s a talented musician but his private life and personal struggles often eclipse his music. That’s certainly been the case once again with the release of new album X which has been pushed back and delayed due to Brown spending time in rehab and jail. The album has finally arrived on the back of 5 singles but was it worth the wait?
X opens with its title track and you actually get the feeling that for once Brown might actually be starting to realise that his behaviour causes him to be over-looked for is musical ability. ‘I can make you a believer if I turn the nonsense down’, Brown sings on the opening track and he’s not wrong is he?
The album was launched off the back of singles Fine China, Don’t Think They Know featuring Aaliyah, Love More featuring Nicki Minaj, Loyal featuring Lil’ Wayne and Tyga and current single New Flame feat Usher and Rick Ross so fans will already know what they are in for when it comes to the overall sound of the record. Brown continues to channel his inner-Michael Jackson crossing R&B with hip-hop and pop sounds.
Add Me In is an uptempo R&B/electro-pop track that owes more than a nod to MJ, Time For Love is a breezy R&B club track and Don’t Be Gone Too Long is a dreamy electro-ballad. See You Around is the most refreshing track on the record and is almost folky in its rhythms. It’s nice to hear Brown’s voice shine away from the big beats, gimmicks and guest stars. He’s a truly superb vocalist and if he showed that off more people may take more notice of what he has to offer.
Brown has collaborated with a lot of guest stars for the record. Some of them work well such as the Brandy collaboration Do Better which sees the two singers riffing over sparse beats for one of the best tracks on the album. Nicki Minaj puts in a solid guest appearance too on previous single Love More. Others don’t work so well such as the unnecessarily smutty Drown In It featuring R Kelly.
Chris Brown remains a very frustrating artist. His talent is undeniable but his conduct makes it difficult for you to truly root for him. He’s shown a lot of promise over the years and X, like many of Brown’s albums, is a mixed bag that hints at the artist he could become if he concentrated on his music and stayed out of the headlines. X is a step in the right direction for Brown and we hope he can continue to grow as an artist and stop taking one step forward and two steps back.