It was thought that his spoiled reputation would see him exit the music industry but last year saw American singer, Chris Brown, defeat the odds with the Grammy-award winning album, ‘F.A.M.E.‘. This success meant that Brown was in for a more promising career than originally expected despite all the controversy; and so it is no surprise that a follow-up would be dropped this year. This month saw ‘Fortune‘ rocket straight to the top of the charts internationally, making it Brown’s first UK number one album. But what has made it so attractive that music fans are able to forgive and forget?
In terms of style, the album reflects the previous as it bounces between genres and even personalities. Brown exploits his ego as he boasts in the intense hip-hop tracks but also embraces his more ‘romantic’ side in the soulful R&B moments. There are also pure pop-dance moments that have already dominated the clubs; providing a carefree vibe. It is not as experimental as the previous, but ‘Fortune‘ has an appealing balance to it in terms of style that suggests a lot of work went into the production. However, with the music aside, the lyrics are abundant with talks of rough sex and intoxicated parties as Brown takes a victory lap whilst still deciding whether he should be sorry or not for all of the controversy. His chosen subject matters may be a little off-putting but the wording and the melodies can lighten it up alongside his attractive vocals.
But which song will prove to be an ear worm?
1. ‘Turn Up The Music‘ – An infectious synth-ridden dance-anthem opens the album with an uplifting and fun vibe. Its hot beats will get bodies moving and the chant “turn up the music” will get them shouting.
2. ‘Bassline‘ – The boasting begins with this finger-snapping hip-hop track infused with a hint of electro. A steady beat and a minimal soundscape cruise in the backdrop as the focus is on Brown’s brutally honest raps and tongue-in-cheek attitude.
3. ‘Till I Die‘ (Ft. Big Sean and Wiz Khalifa) – Following from the previous track, this is another ego-led hip-hop piece that sees the two guests swap verses leaving Breezy to continue his victory-lap. Unlike the the previous, it is more of a declaration than a boast as the line “Ima do this till I die” suggests that nothing will be bringing the 23-year-old down.
4. ‘Mirage‘ (Ft. Nas) – Hip-hop is put to the side as Brown remembers that he can sing, leaving Nas to do the rapping. The hip-hop beats are evident but the rest of soundscape is minimal and reggae-inspired; with a light piano melody alongside the harsh drums. Once again, Brown is being brutally honest in his lyrics, showing no sign of resentment as he bursts the romantic bubble.
5. ‘Don’t Judge Me‘ – In this more pop-friendly piece, Brown rethinks the previous track and actually attempts to apologise for his lifestyle; “Please don’t judge me” he pleads to his current love interest. The soundscape alongside his gentle vocals flows in a ballad form with tamed drum beats and a timid guitar. The line “It can get ugly/before it gets beautiful” glows to distil the desperation into a more neutral vibe.
6. ‘2012‘ – And by ‘beautiful’ in that previous track, Breezy is probably referring to his performance in the bedroom. It is a sex-ballad inspired by an apocalyptic fear; “We gone do it like it’s the end of the world”. Although graphic, it is a gentle thrill that will make you blush.
7. ‘Biggest Fan‘ – The soundscape becomes more lively and upbeat with this next piece. Built up by various synths, the odd guitar and infectious beats, Brown is moving into R&B-pop territory – especially as he lets his soulful vocals take flight. Although you would rather not sing this one out loud in public; the chorus is annoyingly catchy. Of course, this is another song about rough sex and Brown’s inability to keep his hands off his excited fans; “When you scream I need/to pull your body closer/Let Me sex you babe”. I can imagine this being a guilty pleasure for some.
8. ‘Sweet Love‘ – More sex; “Baby let’s get naked/just so we can make sweet love”. With a strong R&B appeal to it, the soundscape bounces from gentle beats to repetitive bull-bells and excited synths that reflect the cheesy 90s. Unlike the previous sex-ballads, this one is not as graphic boardering on the more discreet and romantic, thankfully.
9. ‘Strip‘ (ft. Kevin McCall) – Finger-snapping and bouncy beats gives this a very upbeat and fun atmosphere as Breezy announces he prefers his women naked. It is an R&B hit that will fill any dance floor, with lines like “God damn you sexy” acting as an anthemic chant.
10. ‘Stuck On Stupid‘ – A beautiful piano melody leads this romantic ballad as Brown explores the consequences love has on one’s mentality. The vocals and lyrics are both soulful as there is a pristine pop-appeal that reflects his Justin Bieber feature ‘Next To You‘.
11. ‘4 Years Old‘ – Country acoustics and strong vocals help Brown explore his more romantic side, making him feel like a child. It acts as a slight epiphany moment as Brown admits “nothing compares to the thought of love”; despite all the fame and fortune, he is not happy … apparently.
12. ‘Party Hard/Cadillac (Interlude)‘ (Ft. Sevyn) – Brown falls in love with the perfect woman in this slow pop tune followed by an acapella love ballad. There is nothing entirely great, just a the thought that these should have been finished properly.
13. ‘Don’t Wake Me Up‘ – This Benny Benassi produced dance-anthem is a powerful romance. Read my full review here.
14. ‘Trumpet Lights‘ (ft. Sabrina Antoinette) – The album ends as it began; with a triumphant club-anthem. Built by popping sonic synths and infectious beats, Browns sings out “I’m going to be the one you love”.
Simply, the thrilling styles and distasteful topics clash together to create a surprisingly balanced and interesting album that has attracted enough attention to make it a top-selling record.
Check out the R&B hit, ‘Strip‘, below!