Graffiti [Jive]

Try-hard, but ultimately mediocre R’n’B comeback from disgraced singer

While releasing that pivotal third album has got to be a nerve-wracking process for any artist, in Chris Brown’s case, the stakes are much, much higher. (For those of you living under a rock in 2009, Brown was sentenced to five years probation for assaulting Rihanna last February). Graffiti is his big comeback, and the pressure is most definitely on, as the 21-year-old year old desperately attempts to repair his tattered public image.

Unfortunately this album never really decides where it’s going, and Brown continually (and frustratingly) treads the line between horny hip-hop gangsta’ and weepy, sensitive balladeer.

Gritty hip-hop tracks like ‘Wait’ (featuring The Game) and ‘I Can Transform Ya’ (Lil Wayne & Swizz Beatz) prove that his people spared no expense on production. Alas, Brown’s soppy slower numbers that come across as clichéd and insincere. On ‘Lucky Me’, he warbles “Even though I’m so damaged/Gotta pick myself up /And perform for the crowd.” Hmm, guess he missed that infamous snapshot of the ‘damage’ done to Rihanna’s face then...

The smugness and self-pity continues on ‘Fallin’ Down’ – “Can you imagine/The weight of the world/Placed on your shoulders...”, making his transition to filthy minx on tracks like ‘Take My Time’ all the more jarring. The tears are gone, and this raunchy ’90s style R’nB ballad is supposed to show us how Brown has grown from squeaky-clean teen sensation into sexually mature performer. Unfortunately, cheesy lines like “When I make you bloom like a flower babe” are unlikely to have the laydeez swooning.

Despite a couple of decent tracks, all round it’s a disappointing effort.




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