'Wall' leak building buzz for Brown album
EmptyJive Records was none too thrilled when a new Chris Brown song, "Wall to Wall," leaked in May to New York radio station WQHT (Hot 97), more than four months before the artist's sophomore album, "Exclusive," was due to hit stores. But they have to be pleased with the results: the song has climbed for five straight weeks on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, placing at No. 22 this issue.
"I didn't know we were going to surprise [Jive] like that," songwriter/producer Garrett says of "Wall," which unexpectedly became the first single from "Exclusive," due Aug. 28. "But it's giving us a great kickoff. Chris was ready to go. He's antsy."
In addition to Bryan-Michael Cox and Garrett, among the contributors on "Exclusive" are Dre & Vidal, Scott Storch and the Underdogs. Coming in as part of the expansion team are will.i.am, T-Pain, Stargate, Justin Timberlake and Timbaland, R. Kelly and Pharrell.
Containing elements of rock and go-go -- the latter a nod to Brown's Virginia/Washington, D.C., roots -- new tracks previewed by Billboard demonstrate Brown's juggling act between edgy/more mature while still satisfying the radio programrs and fans behind his success. The mix of uptempo songs and ballads is in keeping with Brown's energetic fusion of R&B, hip-hop and pop.
The final decision as to which tracks will make the cut won't be made until after the label's recording deadline. Aside from "Fallen Angel" (co-written by Brown and Adonis Shropshire), among the cuts in contention are the Cox-produced "Diagnosed With Love," a midtempo number whose piano intro segues into spirited bass and hand-clap accompaniment, the gospel-oriented message song "Save Me" and the will.i.am-helmed "Picture Perfect."
"My last album was rocking," Brown tells Billboard. "I just want to keep moving and building." The artist will begin a tour in support of "Exclusive" in October, and in November, will hit the big screen in the film "This Christmas."