Chris Brown's sixth album, "X," is a tardy attempt at redemption.
Sometimes one song can set the precedence for an album’s entirety and Chris Brown’s opening title-track, X does just that. The Diplo-produced, hip-hop/EDM comprised record symbolizes Brown’s back and forth attempt at being an R&B, hip-hop, pop and dance music star.The song starts off slow and then builds up to an uptempo dance record filled with egotistical lyrics.
The track begins with Brown playing the blame game, “If you’re only as good as the company you keep/Then I’m-a blame you for what they say about me.” Throughout the entire track, Brown plays the victim, while subtly affirming a few revelations. In the middle of the first verse, the “Loyal” singer accepts responsibility for his downfall.
“I can make you a believer if I turn the nonsense down.” That line could easily be about Brown attempting to convince people that he has grown and evolved since his 2009 assault of Rihanna. If he stops the self-sabotaging then perhaps people can begin to believe in Brown, the way that he believes in himself. With a hook like, “I swear to God/I’m moving on/I ain’t going back no more,” it seems as if Brown struggles to be vulnerable and dresses up his real life afflictions as songs about problematic love affairs that need to end.
“Loyal” and “New Flame” are singles on the album that are heavily feature-assisted (Lil Wayne, Tyga, Usher and Rick Ross), which are the most appealing to hip-hop fans.
There are songs on the 17-track album like “Songs On 12 Play,” a weak attempt at paying homage to R. Kelly, who is also featured on the delayed album. The-Dream made the same attempt on his 2009 released Love vs. Money album with “Kelly’s 12 Play.” For someone who needs to revamp his tarnished image, it’s asinine to collaborate with and pay homage to a man whose image is more questionable than yours.
Unlike Brown’s previous projects, X has a handful of collaborations with female artists. Insert Brandy on the girl vs. boy “Do Better,” Jhene Aiko on the boozy “Drunk Texting,” and Nicki Minaj on the radio-ready “Love More."
Brown seeks redemption on the duet with Brandy. “It’s like I can’t get out of my own way,” he sings on the passionate yet solemn track. This is another line that could easily be applicable to Brown’s life and image.
The most promising track on the album is Brown’s vulnerable and dark “Autumn Leaves,” which features Kendrick Lamar, who seems to give Brown advice on how to remain steadfast in the midst of his mishaps.
“When you make mistake the most, the most/One day it’ll make you grow, you grow/When you outlandish and you lose manners/To God you shall consult, consult,” the TDE artist spits. “When the bright cameras are still cramming/In your face and it provoke, provoke/You to act manic, just stay planted/Cause you reapin’ what you sowed/Keep positivity in your heart and keep a noose from ‘round your throat.”
Had Breezy stuck to more ambitious tracks like this versus filler songs to appease to his pop/dance audience, X would have been more than just solid.