In an industry where faux-R&B is at an all-time high and most artists sacrifice true vocal artistry for production and “fly-by-night” pop records, some actually stay in the middle of it all.
Every now and then an artist delivers an album that is worth the $13 or so price tag by blending true artistry with pop; that artist is Chris Brown.
Maybe turning 18 years old, deepening your voice a bit and penning some of your own songs (the second time around) isn’t that bad after all.
By rounding up some of the best producers and songwriters in the music industry today, like Johnta Austin (Tyrese, Mary J. Blige), TheDream (J. Holiday, Rihanna) and Bryan-Michael Cox (Mariah Carey, Danity Kane), Brown has delivered a more than solid sophomore album titled “Exclusive.”
The album opens with the B. Cox produced “Throwed.” This go-go infused track is reminiscent of Amerie’s hit “One Thing” and Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love.” The percussion-heavy record’s infectious vocal harmonies and layered riffs commands the listeners ear. Brown says, “You know being from Virginia, I gotta go back to my roots” as the Rich Harrison-esque beat completes what it sets out to do.
The second single, “Kiss Kiss” featuring T-Pain, adds a little excitement to the already hot record. However, it’s a shame Brown has to get a hit song the same way everyone else is doing it these days- on T-Pain’s coat tails. Either way, the song is hot.
The young crooner proved that he is no longer a little kid in the song “Take You Down” and by the title, you know what it’s about. Brown whispers, “It ain’t my first time but baby girl we can pretend/Let’s bump and grind girl tonight will never end.” It seems with age comes experience, and Brown shares it with his audience. This slow jam will force you to snuggle up with your significant other.
A true highlight to Brown’s sophomore effort is the melodically infectious “You,” penned by TheDream. The song’s repetitious use of the word “you” sticks in your ear and mind to create a sure single-worthy hit and another notch in Browns’ belt. Brown sings, “I can’t believe it/You got me feeling like this/And every other morning, it’s your face that I miss/Man, ya boy’s sick/Cause shawty was a ten/And I was on that bull when I was with you.” This upbeat, feel-good song will definitely be on constant replay in record players.
Other album highlights include the ode to regret “Damaged” and “Wall To Wall.” The album falls a little short with the acoustic, “Irreplacable”-esque song “With You” and the boring “Hold Up” featuring Big Boi.
Overall, Brown delivers his second time around. Some may say that Brown is filling up Ushers’ shoes as the top male R&B act, but only time will tell.
However, if Brown continues to make albums like this, we all will be saying, “Usher who?”