Album Review: Chris Brown - Graffiti

Posted by Mack of Sound-Savvy On 12:36 PM

Artist: Chris Brown
Album: Graffiti
Release Date: 12.8.09

Four years ago, the world met Chris Brown: a golden boy with a squeaky clean image, amazing stage presence and dance moves that few of his entertainment counterparts could match, much less rival. His growth as a man and an artist has seen significant highs and this year, it saw significant lows. This evolutionary journey is chronicled on his new album Graffiti with songs of loss, love, and the pressures of fame. The title is all too fitting – when an object is defaced with graffiti, it’s no longer clean, the innocence is lost and the world has left an indelible mark. Such is the case with Chris Brown, re-emerging from a tumultuous year with a new image, no longer bearing the child-like innocence we once knew.  But as you will note on the album, some of his graffiti is self-induced…

True to his style of making pop smashes with street-dance potential, the lead single I Can Transform Ya was a vibrant and energetic return to the forefront for Brown much like Wait, a similar track on the album featuring The Game and fellow VA prince Trey Songz.  But it was the followup single Crawl that showed the maturity in Chris’ vocals and overall sound in an epic power ballad. So Cold is the album’s most apologetic offering, a sentimental love song where he croons presumably of Rihanna (“tell her I miss her, tell her I need her, tell her I want her to come back… tell her I’m sorry, can you forgive me”). The third single Sing Like Me applies the bait-and-switch, masking Brown’s playboy intentions beneath a gentle melody while What I Do is more boisterous with a dose of Southern swag and flashy lyrics accompanied by an ill-timed and out of place verse from raunchy rapper Plies – T.I. or Bun B could have done the track more justice. Ryan Leslie’s need for variety is evident on Famous Girl, which he produced with the same sound as all Leslie’s previous work – too predictable; sounds like everything we’ve heard too many times. Besides, is now REALLY the time to point fingers? The album attempts to get steamy on Tha Bizness-produced Take My Time with a cameo from fellow R&B singer Tank and this could easily serve as a sequel to Brown’s Take You Down. Next single could definitely be Pass Out, which has international pop/dance appeal all over it. Lucky Me is a pity party of a ballad that examines the pressures of stardom and the realities of life for the young star. Exorcising his own personal demons, Chris Brown bears “the weight of the world” on Fallin’ Down, a highlight of the album characterized by strong vocals, strong lyrics and some tight harmonies. Surprisingly enough, the album might’ve fared stronger if the bonus tracks like For Ur Love, I Love You, and I Need This had been included as standard issues.

One could draw lots of parallels between Graffiti and his previous album Exclusive – they mostly follow the same formula, but the new album is better, harder, and more intense than his previous work. There isn’t much change in style, but there’s a deeper level of content here that connects with a more mature audience. I will say that there's a bit of duality here when it comes to his image - is he the apologetic nice-guy or the derided playboy we've seen in the tabloids? There weren’t any tracks bad enough to skip over completely, though some don’t measure up as well as others making this project solid, but not classic. Embattled he may be, but broken he is not, despite the graffiti on the wall…

Sound-Savvy rates Graffiti with 3.5 out of 5 platinum headphones.

1 Comment

  1. bshepjr Said,

    i'd give it a 4.

    "i'll go" is a good song too! "crawl" being the best, obviously. "wait" has hit written all over it. lol @ ryan leslie, so TRUE. he needs to switch it up!

    Posted on December 8, 2009 at 1:18 PM


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