Chris Brown's 'Fortune': What the Critics are Saying
UPDATED: "Forgettable," "juvenile," and "soulless" are just a few terms used in response to the R&B artist’s fifth studio album.
If Chris Brown aimed to redeem his string of bad press throughout the past three years, Fortune may not have done the trick. From his pleading guilty to felony assault of singer and former girlfriend Rihanna to the nightclub brawl with Young Money artist Drake, Brown’s personal life has been anything but subtle in the media, and fans and critics alike looked to Fortune as a way to get a glimpse into the mind of the singer.
Released June 29, Fortune features reputable guest artists, including Big Sean and Wiz Khalifa. Its first of four singles, “Turn Up the Music,” peaked at number 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Compared to the success of his 2011 Grammy award winning album F.A.M.E., which debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, Fortune pales in comparison for many.
Sarah Godfrey of the Washington Post says: “Fortune is no F.A.M.E.—it sounds like it, sure, but doesn’t move Brown to any new ground musically.”
Lyrically, many of the songs on the 14-track album have not been received in a favorable light. Kia Makarechi of the Huffington Post comments on the “juvenile” ring to the lyrics on Brown’s track “2012”: “It’s supposed to be sexy, but it comes across like something you’ll hear in a fitting room at Marshall’s.” Billboard’s Andrew Happ additionally comments on the track “Biggest Fan” as the “ickiest sex jam yet…the opening alone crossing the TMI line.”
Entertainment Weekly gave Fortune a C- on their grading scale. Writes Kyle Anderson: “[The album] furthers the uncomfortable and frustrating disconnect between Brown’s hothead personal life and his oddly edgeless musical persona…What’s worse, the album doesn’t resolve.”
While critics mostly remain unimpressed with the material on the album, many are wary of the persona Brown portrays throughout many of the tracks. Referring to the track “Biggest Fan,” HuffPo's Makarechi adds: “It’s fine for R&B singers to position themselves as dark Lotharios, but it’s most certainly not acceptable for a singer who brutally beat a woman to whine that ‘no is not an option.’”
Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune says: “In his most expressive moments, Brown plays a not very likeable character: a demanding rogue who wants sex, and wants it now, no questions asked.” He adds, “Fortune is a pure-pop candy cane, meant to be enjoyed, consumed and forgotten.”
Though Brown's latest studio effort didn't fare so well with critics, it did have a few redeeming qualities for its genre. Billboard's Happ likens the album to a "victory lap" for the artist when he adds: "Fortune is a fully adult R&B record that will likely churn out at least two or three more singles to Brown's growing repertoire."
Brown's fifth studio album will be released July 3 by RCA Records.
A previous version of this story incorrectly named Fortune's release date as June 29.