F.A.M.E. lets down R&B Genre

F. A. M. E. (“Forgiving All My Enemies” or alternatively “Fans Are My Everything”) is Chris Brown’s latest album. Perhaps famous for the wrong reasons, Brown does not change this perception by proving he should be famous for talent. He shrewdly relinquishes creative control to those who know better than him. Brown makes no freshman mistakes, but at the same time there are so many cooks in the kitchen the recipe is bound to be at least palatable to the widest audience possible.

Brown still cannot sing which really is not a surprise, but in such an R&B-heavy album, the gloss needed to make the output acceptable just does not quite cut it. A more talented singer would not have to work as hard to make interesting music, but as many artists these days, Brown mainly relies on the studio magic of the producers and engineers to make a musical product from the dessert of Brown’s talent.

With almost 40 writers, Brown does not own any aspect of the album and seems to just do what he is told, which is both the strength and weakness of the album. F. A. M. E. reaches a wide audience but sacrifices originality to do so. With such a vibrant personal style and life, it puzzles that his music is so bland. Supposedly still retaining many feelings inside from previous relationships, this album is void of any true emotion.  Sure there are explicit references to explicit acts, but that does not make any kind of conviction of emotion.

But again, not much more can be expected of someone incapable of wielding an instrument. This album is dry, empty and emotionless.

On the whole, R&B has the unfortunate burden of being very popular. Many artists should not be making R&B, but for the sake of popularity, they are. Brown is squarely one of them. R&B singers should be able to convey blues with an emotive and skilled voice.

Brown is pedestrian in both counts, making some boring ignorable music, if he is actually the appropriate party to attribute credit. F. A. M. E. is almost exactly similar to anything and everything on the radio last year, this year and next year. It does nothing to inject new life into the drowning genre.

All these unfortunate things said, there are some redeeming songs to the album, all of which are dance-oriented tracks. Hiring top-notch producers paid off by delivering some really nifty tunes.  While not always innovative, the dance tracks are at least effective. Primary among them is “Look at Me Now,” a Diplo-produced song that demonstrates Brown’s unfortunate desire to rap. In good company with Lil’ Wayne and Busta Rhymes, the minimalist track is effective despite Brown’s ho-hum flow.

One could come to the sneaking suspicion that Brown thinks he is the next Michael Jackson, which is half true, but only because Brown is a great dancer. Unfortunately he is not as good of a singer, especially when compared to Jackson. Brown’s appeal is as an “entertainer,” not a singer and this album wisely does not emphasize this shortcoming.

F. A. M. E. breaks no new ground and is stylistically nothing new for Brown or the R&B landscape. The only notable tracks are such because of excellent production. The flamboyant dancer lacks a musical style and drags the world along on his mostly boring musical excursion. Fans will still be fans, but Brown will win no new ones from this effort.

Brown dispassionately croons for love lost and clumsily sings about sex. The lyrics really do not say anything and are filled with “yeah,” “uh-huh,” and “girl.” While broadly categorized as R&B, the album is hard to classify because of its shotgun approach.

Brown tries to branch out in so many directions he ends up going nowhere. He also does no branch out very far from home as if he is afraid of stepping on any toes. F. A. M. E. comes off as a whole lot of nothing all puffed up.

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