Chris Brown – ‘Fortune’ | Album Review

Lining up his comeback this year hasn’t come easy for Chris Brown. Constantly rebuilding his image since the release of his fourth album F.A.M.E., the singer received several award nominations for his efforts and planned to release the sequel just six months afterwards. After a string of setbacks, though, new material from the singer didn’t seem likely.

Working against a rescheduled album date, Brown reeled off a set unreleased material and two official singles to promote the new album. As things took a turn for the better, Bronw won a Best R&B Album Grammy for F.A.M.E. and scored an international number one single as a welcome back to the music scene.

The only thing left to do was release his fifth studio album — Fortune.

Brown introduces the album with The Underdogs and Fuego-produced “Turn Up The Music.” Already taking the top spot on the UK charts and being well-received by critics, the single starts Fortune on a high note. Taking on the role of his rapping alter ego Lo Breezy, the singer raps his way through the the top of the album with the Wiz Khalifa and Big Sean-assisted “Til I Die” and dubstep-tinged “Bassline.”

Brown manages to put his rapping away for a brief moment and gives us some of his usual R&B jams towards the midsection of the album. Ready to make love “like it’s the end of the world,” he effortlessly serenades female listeners with “2012,” “Biggest Fan” and the Polow Da Don-produced “Sweet Love.”

Strategically separating the pop/dance tracks from each other, the album’s fourth single “Don’t Wake Me Up,” produced Benny & Alle Benassi, sits away from the first upbeat pop chart treatment, providing an easier listening experience. With the current buzz around Electro/R&B sounds, both “Turn Up The Music” and “Don’t Wake Me Up” fit well with the rest of the ensemble.

Brown’s attempts at Pop ballads, on the other hand, don’t fit too well. Songs such as “Party Hard” and “Stuck On Stupid” (which the singer described to MTV as the album’s “more passionate love songs”) sound like their better-suited for F.A.M.E‘s bonus tracklisting.

The highlight of the album is the highly-anticipated Nas collaboration “Mirage” — mostly because of Nas’ verse. Co-produced by Harmony and Brown himself the track works more in the New York rapper’s favour.

Displaying a range of genre influences throughout, the most popular choices being Dubstep and Dance, Brown manages to keep his flow of music current whilst managing not to over-do it with his plea for forgiveness.

Displaying his mature side, Brown speaks of how having all the money in the world doesn’t compare to the feeling of love in the heartfelt ballad “4 Years Old.” Comparing how much he has accumulated over the years to the lack of love — “I guess I was faking/cause look at all the money I’m making / Still nothing can compare to the thought of love” — the song is one of the rare few that show off Brown’s lyrical strength and ability to put together a non-sexual song.

Fortune gives loyal listeners exactly what they’ve come to expect from a modern-day R&B album, but if you’re looking for something else or a little more compared to F.A.M.E., you may be a little disappointed. Standouts from the pre-Fortune release list like “Second Serving” and the Hit-Boy produced “Off That Liquor” unfortunately didn’t make it into the final lineup.

Despite treating fans to a generous amount of music, (amounting to 21 tracks in total, including the bonus tracks), the collection seems to merge together rather than build up as it goes along. Instead of taking more of a risk with his lyrical ability, vocal strength and experimenting with a wider range of musical styles, Brown plays it safe with Fortune. With that said, most of the tracks are more than likely to be picked up for airplay and should position well on the charts.

Chris Brown – Fortune
Release Date: 2nd July 2012 (UK) 3rd July (US)
Label: RCA Records
Buy: iTunes UK (Deluxe) / iTunes US (Deluxe) / My Play Direct US (Deluxe)

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