Breezy is back! A little domestic violence couldn’t bring him down and now he’s ready to follow up his last album ‘Graffiti’ with ‘F.A.M.E.’ or Fans Are My Everything (or Forgiving All My Enemies), his fourth studio album. Hopping on the album to give the young R&B singer some help are some heavy hitters like Wiz Khalifa, Justin Bieber, Timbaland, Lil Wayne and more. Most of the songs already leaked but ‘F.A.M.E’ still has a few tricks up its sleeve. Mixing true R&B with pop, hip-hop and of course a few club bangers, Chris Brown has put forth a strong effort that he hopes will further propel his comeback. After the crummy third studio album ‘Graffiti’, and the mass exodus of fans due to his woman beating incident, Brown has a lot to prove and with ‘F.A.M.E’ and from the looks of it, he has certainly taken a step in the right direction.
Kicking off things is Deuces featuring Tyga & Kevin McCall. With 1.8 million in combined digital/mobile sales to date, you’ve probably heard this one already. It also spent 10 weeks at No.1 and earned Brown a 2010 Grammy nomination. The slow, down tempo track seems to be talking about Rihanna, but we’re never really sure. It’s certainly about a breakup though. Tyga goes in with some solid verses and steals the song from Brown. The guy has good flow and is easily the best part of the track. The song is a bit annoying at first but it’s one of those ones that grows on you. To be honest, I hated it when I first heard it. But after a few listens, it’s quickly becoming one of my favorites, offering up witty lyrics with good rhythm.
Deuces leads into Up To You, another track that continues the slow tempo trend. Brown delivers a ballad driven by pianos. He sings about a woman, again continuing the theme of the album. If you like Brown’s slower songs, his more ballad type songs, you’ll probably dig it. I for one like Breezy when he’s singing more pop type music so I wasn’t a fan of this one. That being said, Brown is clearly in his comfort zone here and delivers a track that should please most fans.
For No Bullshit, Brown still goes slow, building up to the later songs on the album, which will up the tempo. Like the last track, Up To You, I’m still not feeling this one. More ballad-y than I would have liked, it’s more or less a sex song, with Brown singing “Three in the morning / you know I’m horny…..you already know what time it is/reach out to that dresser where the condoms is.” It’s not as graphic as another one of the sex based tracks, Wet The Bed, but it still plants some interesting images in your head.
Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes join Breezy for his next track, Look At Me Now. It’s an almost dougie-esque song that will split fans right down the middle. You’ll either love it or hate it. Busta spits fire and Weezy is just kind of there, for no apparent reason. The song is really more annoying than anything to be honest. It has a weird beat to it and doesn’t really give much. It’s a banger and if you like that type of stuff it may be up your alley but if not, you’ll probably want to skip it. By far the worst song on the album.
After the obnoxious Look At Me Now, Brown comes in with one of the album’s highlights. Sampling Michael Jackson’s Human Nature and and SWV’s Right Here, he gives us She Ain’t You, a song with a real 80s feel to it. A soulful and catchy beat with excellent lyrics, it turns out to be one of the stronger Breezy tracks. Singing about love once again Brown pours his heart out and tells us “She touches me/But I’m wishing that they were your hands/When I’m with her it’s only bout the sex/With you I had a bad romance/And if I could/Trade her in I would/Because no one compares to ya.” Once again, it’s likely that this is an ode to Rihanna. It’s a terrific song also because Brown is paying tribute to the king, whom we know from his recent BET Awards performance, he has great respect for.
On Say It With Me, we have our first potential club song of the album. More of a Euro club song but a club song nonetheless. It’s a fast paced track that you can definitely dance to and it also has a bit of a Justin Timberlake-esque feel to it. The song really lends itself to blaring speakers in a club and that is probably where it will be best appreciated. It’s quick, catchy and has a wicked chorus. It’s also very easy to move to. It may give off too much of a ‘boy band’ feel for some people but I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Brown then brings us the best song on the album, Yeah 3X, which was already released and has done very well. Currently being played in clubs everywhere, the song is undeniably pop and is dangerously catchy. With 1.2 million in combined digital/mobile sales, it’s safe to say, that like Deuces, you’ve probably heard this track as well. It’s a synthesizer heavy song, much in the vein of an Usher or Jason Derulo track. Very radio friendly, the track has Brown showing off a great energy as he sings about having fun and partying. Make sure you spin this one at your next pre-drink.
After Yeah 3X, Brown enlists the help of current pop sensation Justin Bieber as the two go in on the track Next 2 You. Being in the minority seeing as I don’t currently have Bieber fever, I was dreading this track. Surprisingly though, it’s quite good. The two complement each other real well and produce a vocally heavy, and vocally strong track, despite being a bit too cutesy. The two vocalists trade off lyrics while going in together on the chorus. Bieber gets the spotlight as well, giving us some solo work. Expect this one to go over well with the ladies.
On All Back, Brown sings about a love that he lost, telling us he wants it all back. He delivers some raw vocals and touching lyrics, making for a bit of a moving song. It’s not particularly exciting though and feels a bit like filler. I think the album could have probably done without this one. How many love ballads do we really need?
Changing pace, we get Wet The Bed, a song that doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Enlisting help from Ludacris, the track gets graphic from its opening line as it sets the tone with “hear the sound of your body drip/As I kiss both sets of lips” and follows up with lyrics like “I just want to take your legs and wrap them around/girl you’re cumming right now” and “Anytime you want it/I’m ready and willing girl to give it”. The rest of the song follows in the same vein. Like I said, graphic but one of the more interesting songs, at least lyrically.
Oh My Love follows and with it we get an up tempo and catchy beat. It’s energetic and gives us a chorus we can sing along to. Not as club-y as some of the other tracks but I can still see people dancing to this one. A bit more hip-hop than pop, mixed with a few techno elements, this one is definitely worth a listen. The lyrics come out quick as Brown spits out his thoughts. The chorus slows things down, allowing for some sing a long and overall, this one is up there on the list of my favorites. It does sound a bit too similar to Say It With Me, which some may find problematic. Despite this, they’re both great songs.
Should’ve Kissed You was a bit of a weak point. Chris tells us about his troubles with girls, explaining how he missed out on an opportunity to kiss a girl. The song was too slow for me and this more affectionate side of Breezy seemed out of place on the album. It was too stripped down and Brown’s voice sounded far too irritating. Luckily, the next track picks right back up with Beautiful People. The song features Benny Benassi and once again gives DJs something to spin in the club. It’s a very euro pop song and has a real Benassi feel to it. He completely takes over the track, rendering Brown almost unrecognizable, giving us something to play at our next party. Some may find the electronic vibe annoying but it gives the track a better dance groove and I think the club goers will appreciate this one.
Wiz Khalifa hops on Bomb, the next track, to give us a bit of a reggae feel. It’s a simple track and the vocal effects get a bit annoying. In the end it comes off as rather mediocre and as a song that probably won’t attain a high play count on your iTunes. A Brown/Khalifa collaboration should have been one of the top songs on the album, unfortunately it’s one of the worst.
Love Them Girls takes us deep and dark, offering a much more sinister track than we’ve heard thus far. The Game hops on and delivers the rap part of this song. The track gives off a very bland feel though and I can’t see this one getting anymore than a few plays. It’s just kind of there. Feeling almost useless.
Timbaland and Big Sean, two pretty talented individuals, give Breezy a hand with the next track, which is also one of my favorites, Paper, Scissors, Rock. A bit pop-y and fairly catchy, this one is destined to get stuck in your head. It’s heavy on the bassline and has Brown going places we usually don’t see him go to. Offering up clever lyrics, the track has very Timbaland feel to it, for obvious reasons. If you can look past the auto-tune, I think you’ll find a really enjoyable song.
Rounding out the album are Beg For It, another slow love ballad and Champion, which is actually a Chipmunk track featuring Chris Brown. On Beg For It, things feel very standard. By this point we’ve already heard a few love ballads on the album and this one really doesn’t do anything to stand out. With Champion, we get a passionate track for Brown, as he delivers raw and honest verses, giving it his all. He tells us “This gonna be the realest shit I ever wrote/off the record, no camera, forget quotes”. It has that ‘inspirational’ feel to it as well, giving it a sing a long element. Something you just want to stand up and chant. Especially with the chorus.
At the end of it all, Brown covers a number of genres here but at points the album feels a bit like quantity over quality. There are a lot of tracks here, but they don’t all sound great. That being said, it’s still a very strong album and the songs that are good are great. A few more up tempo songs would have been nice but even some of the slower ones will find themselves on repeat in your iTunes. The disc has a ton of great features, some solid production and a sufficient handful of songs that will keep your ears busy for a while. At 17 songs the disc may be too long and as mentioned before, some of the tracks feel kind of useless, but despite this, ‘F.A.M.E’ is still a step up from ‘Graffiti’. It’s a more mature, experienced and well rounded album and one that is well worth a purchase.
F.A.M.E. was released on March 22nd, 2011