Chris Brown released his latest single and music video ‘Fine China’ on April 1 – the first single off his upcoming album titled ‘X.’
According to Chris Brown the song is a tribute to Michael Jackson and one look at the video will confirm it. Rolling Stone accurately call the debut single ‘Fine China’ a:
‘vintage King-of-Pop falsetto over elastic bass and swinging Eighties funk grooves, it’s a hype combination of futuristic and throwback, blended with decidedly old-school romance.’
The Twittersphere seem to be reacting very positively to the single – many loving the infectious beats, MJ’esque dancing, singing and wholesome feel.
The music video depicts Brown with his forbidden ‘Fine China’ a pretty girl who has an overbearing father – and the conflict that ensues, naturally on the dance floor (go the dance fight!). Chris Brown is dressed in suspenders and a driving hat and dances his tail off the entire video – bar the suspense filled fight scenes. The lengthy video is very reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s the attractive object of affection, and the build up to conflict.
I can’t say that I’m in love with this track – and I have given it a chance, fifteen in fact. For some reason these light fancy-free tracks of Brown’s that once used to dominate the charts (pre-Rihanna abuse) just don’t have the same appeal. ‘Fine China’ differs greatly from the sex-filled tracks in ‘The FAME’ and marginally so from ‘Fortune.’
Now let me be clear before the stans come for me, I’m not a Chris Brown hater – I commend him when he is recording hot tracks. My verdict on ‘Fortune’ pretty much concluded that he needed to walk away from recording for a minute and sort his personal life out because his public abuse of Rihanna, run-ins with Drake, Frank Ocean and most recently a valet man was seriously affecting the quality of his music. His focus and energy was seemingly on trying to recover his strong public disapproval. He is a repeat offender, and has earned the label of bad boy of R&B – Bobby Brown style.
Check out the ‘Fine China’ video at the bottom of the post and make your own judgement of the track.
Chris Brown On ‘X’
Homeboy is trying to convince us that he’s a new, redeemed man with ‘X.’ At least that’s what I think after analysing interviews with Brown on the LP.
So what’s with the title of the album?
“‘X’ defines everything I’ve been through in my life, it’s the Roman numeral for 10. 5/5/89 is my birthday: 5 plus 5 is 10, and this is my tenth years since I got into music. ‘X’ is the 24th letter in the alphabet, and I’ll have turned 24 when this album comes out. ‘X’ is also a metaphor, as in ‘ex-girlfriend’: it implies you’re progressing and moving on in life, not holding on to the past and your old ways.” – Rolling Stone
Chris Brown strived to create a more mature sound with ‘X.’ I must say this will be welcomed if he delivers on this claim. I want to see some artistic growth from the man not tracks flooded with the dance music David Guetta style.
Sound And Influence
Chris, what’s ‘X’ going to sound like?
“I tried to stay away from the Euro beats, and not go totally pop, instead, I wanted to take the Quincy Jones approach. The record pays homage to the Stevie Wonders, the Michael Jacksons, the Sam Cookes: I wanted to put that classic essence of R&B and soul with the new age of music now. There’s a lot of live instruments, and a lot less Auto-Tune. I really wanted to demonstrate my vocal ability, creating the vibe of me singing along with a band.” – Rolling Stone
It’s a fine line between paying homage to and ‘copying’ – which I feel ‘Fine China’ really errs on. This statement from Chris Brown really makes me think he’s trying to do what Justin Timberlake has successfully done with ‘The 20/20 Experience.’
Combined futuristic sounds with the soul, funk, pop era of MJ and Prince. JT makes the music on ‘The 20/20 Experience’ his OWN and although you’re getting throwback music you don’t ever think of his music as a cheap dupe. It will be interesting to see whether ‘X’ can achieve that balance so perfectly demonstrated by JT and Timbaland’s collaborative effort.
According to Brown ‘X’ helped him found out who he was – the album has a lot of substance, features themes of love, trials and tribulations and personal experience. For those who love Chris’ slower ballads have no fear, ‘X’ features it’s fair share of those.
He has officially confirmed one feature artist on the LP, Kendrick Lamar on the song ‘Autumn Leaves.’
“I picked Kendrick because his subject matter as a lyricist is beyond everybody else’s. There’s a substance to what he says. It’s also fun to experience the ambitions and aspirations of a younger artist who’s just learning how the game works.” – Rolling Stone
Rihanna and Chris Brown recorded a song titled ‘Put It Up’ which may or may not make the final tracklist.
On ‘X’, provocative phrases like “safer in your violence” pop up in songs like ‘Autumn Leaves.’ When asked if they refer to incidents in Brown’s turbulent history, he says,
“This album will give you a guide to all of that. Any trials and tribulations I’ve been through, I’m just focusing them into my music. Whether it’s personal or life experiences – my girl, my exes, love in general, or just reality – I’m putting all that into this album, that’s the basis of what ‘X’ is, and who Chris Brown is. The stuff I wanted to talk about, I found clever ways to add myself into the metaphors.”
Chris Brown wants this album to act as a catalyst (albeit a very public one) of change to prove to himself and the world that he is re-inventing himself and seeking redemption.
“Basically, I’m saying the negativity is in the past for me, I’m just all about positivity and moving forward, being able to ‘X’ out the negativity and stay on a focused path. Now, instead of me being the temperamental guy that everyone thinks I am, I’m more about crafting that into my music, so when my fans hear it, they can feel it.” – Rolling Stone
What do the pros think of how ‘X’ will be received?
Producer Leon “RoccStar” Youngblood Jr. likens ‘X’ to ‘Confessions,’ Usher’s critically heralded 2004 disc of provocative, self-referential tunes. He says it will give Chris Brown’s harshest critics an unexpectedly revealing scope of the singer.
Youngblood on Chris Brown:
“They don’t see the person behind the image, he’s done a great record…. but they are great pop records. It doesn’t tell the world who he is. [This album] is going to put a heartbeat inside the persona. I think this is going to bring him to life. You’re going to finally understand what he feels.”
Is An Image Change Possible From ‘X?’
John Kennedy, music editor of Vibe magazine, said Brown’s negative image is largely self-generated. Time, not just music, can change that.
“Obviously, after a lot of incidents and episodes that he’s had, it’s something that’s been cast on him. But he’s also embraced it in a way. It’s like OK, you want to call me this bad guy, I’m going to run with that and get all the tattoos and act wild. He’s kind of taken it on.” Can an album change that? “I’m not sure there is anything deliberate that he can do that might change our minds, if he were able to put together a good stretch of time where he wasn’t getting into altercations, or getting into trouble with the law, and just kind of shying away … it would be possible.” – LA Times
Kennedy makes a strong point. Chris Brown’s image is so tainted from his personal drama that it would be naïve of him to think that one album will serve as a turning point whereby we all change our mind about him. The issue is he gets into trouble so frequently that we don’t get the opportunity to believe he is changing. His PR people seriously need to apply some muscle on him – because his mouth and behaviour isn’t doing him or his popularity any favours.
Let ‘X’ and his behaviour show us whether he really is a redeemed man – I am ready to see Breezy mature and move forward positively both personally and artistically.
What do you think of ‘Fine China’ let me know below in the comments. Will you be purchasing ‘X?’