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Chris Brown – Graffiti [Reviews]

Posted by j.ly on May 19, 2010


Regardless of genre or performer, a musician with a colorful personal life is sure to integrate it into their music. This is almost required by fans, who often qualify life experience as the foundation of good music. (Amy Winehouse anyone?)

What becomes problematic for artists and fans alike is when a performer is accused of and/or involved in something that vilifies them. Notable situations of this include Michael Jackson’s post-molestation-allegation career and that of R. Kelly, also accused of sexual encounters with a minor.

Then there is Chris Brown. Breezy wasn’t involved in anything that Jackson or Kelly were accused of, but his famous argument with then-girlfriend Rihanna that resulted in her being beaten and bruised, did much the same to his career.

At the time, Brown was high off the success of his previous disc, Exclusive, and was the top artist of 2008 according to Billboard magazine. After “the incident” with Rihanna, Brown was almost instantly pulled from radio stations’ playlists. Despite this, and perhaps because of it, Brown put out Graffiti, but artistically speaking, how would a post-Rihanna Chris handle the album?

As can be expected, Brown offers his apologies. In “Crawl,” he borrows some of the analogies from his duet with Jordin Sparks, “No Air,” and pleads with his past love to reconnect and try again. “So Cold” finds him even more needy, with Chris proclaiming that “it’s so cold without her” lying next to him.

“Famous Girl” cleverly continues this, with Brown referencing lyrics to recent hip-hop and R&B hits, including Rihanna’s “Disturbia.” Introspective in nature are “Lucky Me” and “Fallin’ Down.” In the first, Brown’s “woe is me” tone evokes similarities to New Edition’s “Boys to Men” and the price of being famous, while “Fallin’ Down” finds Chris reaching into the gruffer territory of his voice as he tries to “stand,” but continues “fallin’ down.”

In line with the urbantronica vibe established by Ne-Yo’s “Closer” and Janet Jackson’s “Rock With U,” yet preceding Usher’s “OMG,” are “I.Y.A.” and “Pass Out.” “I.Y.A.” has a school boyish quality to it, with innocent lyrics sung using Auto-Tune, while “Pass Out” samples Eric Prydz’s “Call On Me.”

Other bangers include the Swizz Beatz-produced “I Can Transform Ya.” The track is heavily hip-hop, but laced with a riffing electric guitar. Noticeably absent is the Auto-Tune so many tracks of a competing caliber would include, but present is a lazy verse or two from Lil Wayne, which the song would be more effective without.

Some of Brown’s “take you home” and “sexual prowess proving” tracks are forgettable, but not “Take My Time.” The song continues where Exclusive’s “Take You Down” left off, though a guest verse by Tank proves the elder R&B crooner is more convincing in this particular conquest.

Graffiti is a decent effort, though not as memorable as Exclusive or Brown’s debut album. Only powers beyond our perception can determine if that’s because of his outside-of-music life or if Chris had bumped into a creative wall. What’s almost certain is that the issues surrounding its success will fuel his next attempt at a comeback.

That’s My Jam’s Rating:
5. Get It Now

4. Get It On Sale
3. Get It As a Gift
2. Get It To a CD Exchange Store

1. Don’t Get It At All

Track List:
1. “I Can Transform Ya” feat. Lil Wayne & Swizz Beatz
2. “Sing Like Me”
3. “Crawl”
4. “So Cold”
5. “What I Do” feat. Plies
6. “Famous Girl”
7. “Take My Time” feat. Tank
8. “I.Y.A.”
9. “Pass Out” feat. Eva Simons
10. “Wait” feat. Trey Songz & The Game
11. “Lucky Me”
12. “Fallin’ Down”
13. “I’ll Go”

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