Has The Blackballing of Chris Brown Gone Too Far?

Posted by Mack of Sound-Savvy On 1:29 PM

A lot of folks have seen Chris Brown’s claims that he’s being blackballed by several retail outlets who are refusing to carry his 3rd and latest album Graffiti. To most, this seems like the latest repercussion from this year’s domestic incident involving former girlfriend and fellow pop-star Rihanna. What I’ve also noticed, however, is that critics seem to blackball Chris Brown as well, rating this album significantly lower than his previous work without professional justifications. AllMusic, for example, gave Brown a 1-star rating (out of 5) criticizing Brown for lyrical fallacies that he was “likable and harmless enough to get away with” on his last album, which they rated with 3.5 stars. In actuality, Brown’s lyrical flow sees a significantly more mature stance on much of the album, but it’s not without flaws. The Chicago Sun-Times gives the album a 1-star rating (out of 4) calling Brown “shallow and soulless”, but basing the entire review off the infamous domestic altercation instead of weighing it on the merits of the music. Of all the biased and ill-written reviews, Rolling Stone grades Graffiti with 2.5 out of 5 stars, but the entire review lacks professional journalistic integrity by comparing Brown’s latest project to Rihanna’s entire catalog. Just being honest, Graffiti isn’t a perfect album, nor is it a classic, but it’s far from the total failure it’s being labeled in the media.

I'm making NO excuses for Chris Brown's behavior in his personal dispute with Rihanna, but what we have to remember is that it was a PERSONAL matter and does not change the quality of his music. It seems as if a lot of reviewers had made up their mind to kill this album with their critiques based on the dispute and subsequent breakup between Chris and Rihanna instead of listening to the music, the content, the vocals and making an objective rating. If a reviewer judges personality, shouldn’t it reflect how much (or how little) of the artist’s personality shines through in the actual work?

When it comes to music and albums, is it okay for a critic to judge the art based on the actions of the artist in his/her personal life? Or do you feel the music should be reviewed on its quality and merits alone? How far is too far?

2 comments and counting...

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 2:40 PM

  2. Ricky Said,

    I think the two are inextricably wedded. Art is life and life is art, so it's hard to be TOTALLY objective when reviewing a famous artist's work. Plus, much of 'Graffiti' addresses "that night" so it's impossible to completely separate the two. Some critics might be lobbing personal blows at Chris but I think much of the criticism is valid: Chris is running through the familiar motions of his previous work and showing little growth as an artist. Is some of it as an enjoyable as his previous work? Sure.

    But it's hard to take sweet love songs from him at face value like we did with "With You" knowing what he can turn into in a relationship.

    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 3:08 PM


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