One of the best songs on Chris Brown's new album is a soft number, "Don't Judge Me," that finds him asking a girlfriend to look past his mistakes.
"So please don't judge me, because it can get ugly, before it gets beautiful," he sings in his signature semi-high pitch.
For another singer, such a tune might come off as just another relationship plea. But coming from the bad boy singer whose career is nearly restored after his attack on Rihanna three years ago, it seems like a cry for understanding to the whole world and makes him sound vulnerable and appealing.
When Brown opens up, he's the best version of himself. Unfortunately, there aren't enough of those songs to make "Fortune," the 23-year-old's fifth album, a must have (it's the follow up to last year's Grammy-winning "F.A.M.E.").
The album veers from hip-hop flavored party jams to electronic, pulsating tracks meant for laser light shows to more emotional fare. The album suffers from Brown's cocky rap-talk and the computerized noises that drown out today's dance songs.
One of the highlights is "4 Years Old." Like "Don't Judge Me," it is soft and slow, with Brown recalling his childhood, singing: "Feels like I'm 4 years old all over again, because I'm just running fast, I should be walking, saying when I grow up you gon' see, I'm gon' be comfortable and happy."
But most of the other tracks are mediocre, and those that standout -- like "Biggest Fan" and "2012" -- suffer from the album's lack of flow and patchy feel. But production may also be the blame: The 14-track set is overloaded with too many producers and songwriters. Sometimes "Fortune" feels like a mixtape.
-- By MESFIN FEKADU