Both credible music and credible sub-culture has been quietly hi-jacked and replaced by forgeries over the last twenty years or so. Case in point; Chris Brown, who looks like the result of the four members of Color Me Badd somehow procreating with each other, and whose vocals pretty much sound like all those nineties fakers put together. And yet, even though he is one of the shittiest singers and performers of today’s generation, for some unknown reason, Chris with his rubbish-skip-looking lower face and slap-dash tattoos, is seen as credible by idiotic Pop fans.
His latest album “X” opens with the title track which starts with a calm and mellow intro. This opener is a great example of the out-of-touch, noughties-sounding, masked-pop-music of today. Produced by Diplo, the track features a House piano, various nods to Garage and Dubstep; all genres incidentally, which have been stolen from the underground and transformed into empty, soulless versions of themselves. Wavering between gentle and wannabe-hard bullshit, this track is a perfect metaphor for Chris himself, who skates the line of bubblegum and perceived-credibility oh so carefully. And while Brown exclaims “I think it’s over!” and “I ain’t going back no more”, the listener begins to wish this Pop Muzak was over, and that we didn’t have to go back no more.
From the second track onward, we’re introduced to a featured Artist we haven’t encountered in years; some annoyingly aged, cheap-and-tacky synths. These synths, which sound like they were lifted from some beat-up and broke-down keyboard, feature in “Add Me In”, in “Loyal” (featuring fellow-fakes Lil Wayne and Tyga) and continue on through “New Flame” and the slow-jam-crap “Songs On 12”. The only reprieve we have from these horrible old sounds is while “Drown In It” plays. But even without the weird synthesiser, this track still sounds like a late-nineties throwback; similar to something maybe Ginuwine or err… R. Kelly would make. And that’s handy ’cause Kelly’s on this track! And as Kelly croons with Brown, the pair seem oblivious to the fact that this whole aural aesthetic is several years, if not a decade and a half too late to sound convincing.
On the next song, we welcome back Mr. Shit Synth on “Came To Do” featuring Akon. And once our ears are well and truly fucked from this back-to-back digital bullshit, we are then given the clap with the song “Stereotype”. At this point in the album, you just about give up on it. “Time For Love” is simply bad, “Autumn Leaves” featuring Kendrick Lamar is a great song if you ever needed physical proof that Lamar has sold-out. “Do Better” sounds like Justin Bieber singing over some wannabe Toto track. “See You Around” sounds like a Hannah Montana type song with it’s horrendous guitars. “Don’t Be Gone Too Long” sounds like a failed-Opening Ceremony track and “Body Shots” tries to do two-step R&B, but then turns into Electronic Dance Pop. Then finally we are given “Drunk Texting” which sounds like some reject Aaliyah joint from the late-nineties. Chris Brown does know it’s 2014, right?
On top of the crappy production there’s the huge amounts of trashy lyrics, which like anything Pop today, feature corny braggadocio lines mixed with some sexism for good measure. The nasty “these hoes ain’t loyal” lyrics are a case in point, and which lend to the fucked-up ideas of thot’s (That Hoe Over There) within contemporary culture; but I guess that’s besides the point. The Deluxe Version of the album doesn’t include anything redeeming either, just a pile of extra trash on top of a pile of garbage, with some added Nicki Minaj thrown in. The inclusion of an Aaliyah vocal on “Don’t Think They Know”, at least shows how this nineties-noughties-R&B stuff was done properly, but outside of 2006 the horrible R&B soundscape in “X” is so out-of-style that I never want to hear it again.
With his trips to Anger Management, Rehab, and all the rest, Chris Brown’s antics between albums seems to be in order to build his fake-credibility just before an official release. In 2012 for example, when he and his so-called crew dressed as Arab Terrorists for Halloween, not only was the whole stereotypical dress offensive (if an Arab dressed in a Thuggish “Gang” costume and donned blackface, there would have been a furore) but yet again this publicity was there to make his lame arse appear “edgy” and “controversial” even though in the same year he released the sugary and corny-as-hell “Sweet Love”.
Brown’s brand of R&B (that’s Rap & Bullshit) sounds like a singing Disney Princess, and yet his public persona is that of an “urban bad-boy”. This juxtaposition seems to be a trend in this decade; whereby performers’ music is unashamedly tame and yet the celebrity themselves are constantly seen pratting around trying to be “street” (Justin Bieber, anyone?). But all this fakery doesn’t stop countless fans from listening to Brown’s bubblegum sounds. In fact everybody from Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, Trey Songz, all the way back to Justin Timberlake are basically the equivalent of lames like the Backstreet Boys, New Kids On The Block, and Brown’s fathers; Color Me Badd. The weird thing about these Pop-fuckers these days, is that they actually think they’re credible and cool, and worse still; the public believes them.
For someone who seems to love the late-nineties and early-noughties, I’m sure Chris Brown would love some out-of-date noughties slang too; so I’ll put this in words Chris can understand… “All your mean-mugging doesn’t make your sweet-ass tunes any harder, B!”. That’s how corny his albums sound in the present day.
Too much auto-tune, too much Pop, not enough R&B, and not enough talent…
A Piece of Xcrement.