Album Review: Chris Brown ‘Fortune’
So, Chris Brown is an interesting person, but we’re not going to deal with that too much. No matter what you or I might think of the guy, an album is only a body of work, and it should be treated as such. If you loathe Chris Brown as a man and choose not to support him or listen to his music, that seems pretty reasonable, all things considered, but as a reviewer it’s important for me to put that aside and judge these songs on their own merits.
Handily enough, Fortune is not a very good record, which makes my job a whole lot easier.
This album has a ton of energy in spurts, but it doesn’t seem to have the stamina of his past releases. This one dwells in its sexy, cooled down mode for a bit longer than it should, and from there it transitions into an introspective section which also lacks punch.
It starts out fairly strongly, though. The thumping opener, ‘Turn Up the Music’ is just large enough to suit Brown’s image. It’s a catchy, surefire single. ‘Bassline’ brings in an assortment of dubstep-inspired noises that aren’t really dubstep, but are no less satisfying. Unfortunately it’s not very compelling, as while the song plays around with bass it doesn’t do anything remotely new or interesting. These are fun songs, but everyone has heard plenty of music from the same template by now.
‘Mirage’ has a menacing feeling, and it reminds me of great hiphop from a decade or more ago. Nas makes only a brief appearance, but he and Brown are well matched and the attitude of this song is thoroughly felt. My only complaint here is that it fails to tell a story worthy of its dark vibe.
These early songs are fun, and ‘Mirage’ has at least the appearance of wanting to be superb, but there is nothing more to them than your basic hiphop posturing, and that’s something I think people are broadly starting to tire of. Chris Brown’s lyrics are asinine and regurgitated, and he doesn’t seem to have a point, much less a destination.
This is where the album begins to cool down considerably, and from this moment onward it can basically be summarized as Chris Brown having an argument with himself over whether he wants to settle down, or just go out and get laid. ‘Don’t Judge Me’ is a song about wanting not to be held accountable for his past indiscretions, and the next four tracks are largely about his future indiscretions. Go figure.
On ‘Stuck on Stupid’ he seems to come to terms with the fact that he is not very good with relationships, and as a result it’s probably the most genuine track on Fortune. Coupled with ‘Don’t Judge Me’ we are given a look at the way Brown really feels about himself and where he is in life, and that’s at least intriguing, but it also makes the rest of the record seem even more spurious.
‘Don’t Wake Me Up’ starts off with a cool oldies style, and then an a cappella vocal. Quickly it becomes an energetic dance track, which is both good and bad. On one hand, a return to the clubs is at this point welcome, but on the other hand, it’s really a shame that the song this started out as didn’t get a shot at growing into what would undoubtedly have been the most unique and interesting moment on the record.
‘Trumpet Lights’ is the closing track, featuring a bubbly, sci-fi rhythm and bass section. I would say it is one of the strongest overall, taking a backseat only to the opening track, which is a good way to go. Unfortunately, everything in between is very forgettable.
Fortune is certainly not Chris Brown’s best, but it’s also not far off from what his fans should expect and appreciate. He doesn’t stray from the format at all, and maybe it just seems underwhelming because it’s so played out at this point. There doesn’t seem to be anything here worth checking out for those who haven’t had a strong interest in Brown’s music in the past.
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Image Courtesy of RCA Records