6.0 out of 10
By Norman Mayers
Chris Brown emerged in 2005 with his hit song “Run It” which was basically a rip-off of Usher’s “Yeah” or any number of similar cuts. But don’t hold it against him. Chris Brown is a talented performer in his own right. The performer has appeared in a few movies (Stomp The Yard) and apparently had people talking after his performance at the 2007 VMAs. His sophomore album Exclusive is pretty much what one would expect from an 18-year old major label R&B singer’s album: up-tempo beats from the hottest producers, hip-hop swagger, high profile guest stars, and cheesy ballads. While the album stumbles in a few instances it mostly stays afloat thanks to the A-list collaborators and a suitably charming turn from Chris Brown himself. It’s no classic, but it is better than it probably should be.
Chris Brown is definitely not a singer. None of Exclusive’s 14 tracks and 2 bonus tracks reach the vocal power of Usher or even Justin Timberlake for that matter. But this is contemporary R&B, not classic soul. Brown has the perfect formula to reach his audience of club-hopping teenyboppers. The overall sound of the album is dancey and this is established immediately with the opener “Throwed” and its DC gogo-infused vibe. The list of guest stars is impressive and appeals to a wide range of listeners. T-Pain, Will.I.Am, Big Boi, L’il Wayne, Kanye West, and the Game all show up. Producers such as Scott Storch, Will.I.Am, and Jazze Pha create some excellent beats. The best tracks, specifically “Picture Perfect” with its rapid-fire verses and pounding 808 and synthesizer stabs, and “Gimme What You Got”, a slinky number that rides twinkling electronic effects, are creatively constructed pop masterpieces. Brown is also a lot more sincere and a lot less arrogant than many of his contemporaries and this shines though his music. Lyrics like “I’m genuine with it, I ain’t trying to put no pimping in it” from “Hold Up” play up Brown’s fresh-faced youth, a welcome change from all the bad boy sex crazed talk we usually see in R&B as of late (I’m looking at you T-Pain). But like most R&B that is club oriented, the ballads fall short, and Exclusive is no exception. Here the ballads just suffer from lame, redundant, and derivative production. Those Stargate guys keep recycling Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable”; this time they have repackaged it into a track called “With You.” Fortunately there are only 5 slower tracks so the overall vibe of the album isn’t affected.
Chris Brown is definitely riding on the coattails of artists greater than he is but he is still a talented performer who can deliver high-octane club hits. With Exclusive he showcases his penchant for teaming up with the right collaborators and delivers a rather solid sophomore release.
Purchase this album on Itunes
Chris Brown Website
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