By Nicole Webb
Chris Brown’s highly anticipated seventh album Royalty just hit shelves and became available for download this past Friday.
Fans stormed stores to cop the R&B heartthrob’s new album following Brown releasing snippets of his latest work via Instagram.
The album’s cover features a beautiful black-and-white photo of Brown holding his daughter, Royalty, who the album is named after. You can almost feel the love Brown has for his daughter and how much she’s impacted his life. It gives you this sense that after years of trials and tribulations in the media, scandals and just simply bad social media habits, the Tappahannock, Virginia native seems to be back with a more mature sense of himself and outlook on life.
Mature in reality, maybe—but, with the album, not really.
Most of the album’s songs, depending on which version you have, are accompanied by music videos—majority self directed by Brown. However, the album itself doesn’t really live up to the hype.
Following the album’s lead single “Liquor,” which did commercially well after its summer release, the songs “Zero” and “Fine by Me” also dropped with feature videos. The later two both give off that electronic-pop-up-tempo-dance feel that Brown’s been crossing over to with his music in recent years. European fans are sure to love these two for its electronic pop crossover—“Zero” is a favorite because it’s a song you can groove to in your car with the top down (or your windows if you’re not that fancy just yet), with “zero” f’s to be given.
The album’s fourth single, “Back to Sleep,” seems a little bit more like Brown, but it doesn’t really show any growth from his 2011 hit “No Bullsh*t.” It’s a cool jam; you can cruise to this one too, but it’s another meaningless-sex-song—what’s new?
“Make Love” gives this R. Kelly, 90’s R&B type feel; it’s got that nostalgic sound from the popular era in R&B. Later in the album, Brown follows-up with “Who’s Gonna (Nobody),” sampling Keith Sweat’s infamous “Nobody.” Again, more sex, more of Brown crooning over a synthesizer and a high-hat. The lyrics are also a tad aggressive and a bit weird—“Cause I hang with them killers that really be shooting/You don’t answer my call, I’mma hop out them bushes.” What?! Yeah, no, so sorry…all for some…never mind. We could’ve done without this one.
Taking a different route, “Wrist,” which features Atlanta rapper Solo Lucci, gives that Dirty-South trap feel, speaking on Brown’s wrist game being trill. It fits Brown’s recent dab (no pun intended) into the hip hop scene. The video for the song is somewhat trippy, and Brown for sure doesn’t disappoint with his effortless swag and moves. He ‘Milly Rocks on any block’ a handful of times for the visual, and you can sense this one has potential of being a popular banger for the club scene.
“Picture Me Rollin’” is somewhat an element of surprise to the album, sampling Warren G’s “Regulate.” The Dr3amforever-produced track has this ill West Coast vibe, mirroring a little Nate Dog and a little bit of Tupac’s “California Love.” The visual features cameos from French Montana, who makes a hilariously failed attempt at ticking, A$AP Rocky and, unfortunately, Scott Disick…womp. Overall, cool track—just not expected.
Truthfully, the album also could’ve done without “No Filter,” “Little Bit” and “Anyway,” which sounds to sample CB’s previous DJ Frank E-produced track “Yeah 3X.” The three songs fail to make a memorable impression on the listener and seem to be filler spaces in between the others.
Brown takes a more honest approach with “Discover,” a man’s plea to get his girl back. Karreuche…you heard this song, girl? Though the song doesn’t show any accountability from Brown for the love lost, it’s an overall good song. Plea songs seem to be the theme of this year’s cuffing season—Rick Ross’ “Sorry,” Bryson Tiller’s “Exchange.”
Speaking of Pen Griffey, the song “Proof” was penned by the Louisville native…and you can tell. “Proof” is a ‘Bryson’ type of song—the grimy, yet slowed down and smooth trap beat, with R&B lyrics is a Bryson signature that doesn’t fit Brown’s own musical signature well. Tiller honestly should’ve kept this track for himself to either feature on his mixtape TRAPSOUL or his first album.
One of the best songs that seems to live up to the album’s expectation of vulnerability and maturity is surprisingly “Little More (Royalty),” a song written by Brown about baby Royalty. You can feel that tender love and adoration he has for this little girl that has forever changed his life. His lyrics “Oh baby girl you inspire me, give me the reason to keep on/My baby, my Royalty, girl you’re the lyrics to my song,” will make you melt. It’s a beautifully composed track, and the video is even cuter, showing some amazing candid moments between the father and daughter. Brown even sings the hook of the song while holding baby Royalty, who is sound asleep in his arms.
Vocally, the album doesn’t show any improvement from the 26-year-old, nor does it really establish the vision of where Brown is going musically with his sound. It’s kind of all over the place with genres, and it’s not one of his best works for it to be an album. But let’s stick around and hope he focuses more on reestablishing his brand and sound.