An Empty Fortune
- Friday, July 13, 2012
Artist: Chris Brown
Label: RCA Records
A wise pastor in Detroit wrote recently about resisting the temptation to "bully the bullies." It would be easy, while condemning someone for his unbecoming actions, to fall into a comparable strain of aggressive behavior one is rallying against.
That's a good point to keep in mind while critiquing Fortune, the latest album from troubled R&B star Chris Brown. At just 23 years old, he is young enough to mature into not being forever defined by events like his tragic abuse of former girlfriend Rihanna, the property damage he caused after a national television appearance went south, or a recent altercation at a nightclub with fellow singer Drake.
Grace can overcome such things, but does Brown handle such things with grace?
You heard about my image, I don't give a flying mother f---, he declares on Fortune's robotic hypnotic "Bassline," a killer musical track with an all-too-deadly attitude of flaunting wealth and hooking up with ladies as if they were truly disposable. The womanizing and money bragging escalate on the coarse "Till I Die" and seemingly heartless "Mirage," thanks in part to guest shots from Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, and Nas.
All that rhythm-driven posturing at the front of the record settles down into a midway slow jam that, if not outright profane, still revels in graphic sexuality. "2012" puts a timely new spin on all those Armageddon predictions: We're going to do it like it's about to be the end of the world, and they're depending on us to make earth-shaking love.
"Biggest Fan" suggests one-night stands are no big deal and not necessarily traditional; Two girls on one ship and I'm the captain, he sings. "Sweet Love" suffers neither subtlety nor lack of confidence on Brown's part: Baby let's get naked just so we can make sweet love . . . tonight is the night that I change your life.
A certain danger is that younger or uninformed listeners who know Chris for past hits like "Forever" (featured in that dancing wedding party viral video) or Fortune's radio-friendly "Turn Up the Music" would walk unknowingly into this messed up scene.
If they do, at least there are redemptive qualities to dance-ready "Don't Wake Me Up" (it dreams of lasting love) and the acoustic, insightful "4 Years Old," where Chris Brown admits there's an emptiness to all this money, sex, and fame.
Still, this Fortune also feels empty.
*This Review First Published 7/13/2012
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