According to recent interviews Chris Brown channeled a lot of Michael Jackson, Sam Cooke and Stevie Wonder during the recording sessions for his forthcoming album X. I’d love to know what he was listening to when he was on that Guetta wave… I digress. MJ’s influence on Breezy’s career has been obvious from day one and while to an extent that’s cool and completely understandable – it is a bit worrying now. Despite great (albeit surprising) production from Diplo and a strong melody/vocal performance from Brown, ‘Fine China’ fails to demonstrate any originality, a fact that unfortunately ruins the entire experience. Also a sentiment not lost on his cringe new video either.
We’ve all come to know Chris Brown the ‘singer and dancer’, but will we ever meet Chris Brown the ‘artist’? I’m not convinced.
A$AP Rocky takes a big leap into his inevitable superstardom by joining Rihanna on the official remix of her latest single ‘Cockiness (Love It)’. What’s more Rocky is also rumoured to bewill be joining Rih-Rih on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards this week – nice headway towards that debut album promo. It’s no ‘Birthday Cake’, but hey, A$AP’s verse makes up for that.
‘Wildest Dreams’ is the newest single taken off Brandy’s upcoming Two Eleven comeback album. Unlike her Chris Brown featured lead single this demonstrates a more developed sound, but frustratingly still fails to completely commit to the contemporary edge required to ignite real interest in her forthcoming album. At best ‘Wildest Dreams’ sounds like a moderately confident album track but sadly fails as a single. There just isn’t enough for “new fans” to latch onto here and ultimately that’s Brandy’s biggest hurdle – she doesn’t need to convince her loyal following of her talent, she needs to translate that into something relevant for the generation below her.
Brandy’s much anticipated comeback video has finally arrived, a whole 4 months after it first debuted. Directed by Hype Williams (the man behind her iconic ‘Sittin’ Up In My Room’ video) and choreographed by the guy responsible for Beyonce’s now famous ‘Single Ladies’ routine, it’s clear Brandy isn’t looking to mess about this time ’round.
Although the song, which also features Chris Brown, is far from her best – it has admittedly grown on me over the past few months. Far less edgier than her previous efforts, but still sassy enough to recognise that it’s Brandy behind it, her motives here are obvious: produce a record that will appease (or rather, not offend) the purists, but attract the mainstream (enter chart topper Breezy).
… At least she didn’t go Europop.
But regardless of anything else, Brandy’s voice still sets her eons apart from her nearest competitors – even on this record (I mean those harmonies are still outrageous). But lets hope her upcoming TwoEleven album features more progressive songs as well and not just radio friendly substitutions. And truthfully speaking, at this stage in her career, that balance is critical. Certainly looking forward to hearing that Frank Ocean penned track.
Cultural influencer M.I.A has announced that her new album Matangi will be released this December and will be released in conjunction with a book, film and exhibition. And, in her words, is a result of the “blows” she’s experienced in the industry over the past 3 years. And will serve as a “fuck you to them and thank you to you [her fans]“.
Answering questions from fans on twitter, the ‘Paper Planes’ singer revealed that the new music sounds like “Paul Simon on acid” and will feature no collaborations (with the exception of Missy Elliott & Azealia Banks who appeared on her ‘Bad Girls’ remix). She also appeared to take a jibe at producer and ex-boyfriend Diplo, claiming the only producers involved are the “ones that don’t act like a fame whore coloniser”. Deep.
The Roc Nation signed singer also revealed a partial tracklist too – peep that here.
With his new album Fortune out at the end of this week, occasional R&B singer Chris Brown has unveiled a new track featuring God-emcee Nas.
Whenever Brown releases a track akin to the sound he first broke onto the scene with, we’re (bitterly) reminded of the talent and potential he once displayed. It’s difficult to remember nowadays but at one point, this young man was heralded as ‘next on the throne’. An artist who had the potential to fill the shoes of Usher, some even said Michael Jackson (folk like to hype, you get our point though).
Unfortunately, unlike this song which showcases the best of what Brown has to offer – we no longer expect quality like that from him. Production wise, ‘Mirage’ knocks with classic sample flavour whilst vocally, it suits him to a tee. Nasir here delivers a solid guest verse too, the pair sound great together. It’s undeniable that commercially a track like this would make little impact unlike one of his Euro-Strobe atrocities. So let’s accept another great little R&B gem tucked away as an album cut in amongst undignified crap.
Don’t get your hopes up with this one though – can’t imagine the rest of Chris’ new set will sound like this. Recommend dusting off yee ol’ fist pump if you’re going to hit play on that.
Not sure I’ll bore of ‘D’Angelo news’. We’ve lived over 10 years without a word and now…
It would seem BET are pulling out all the stops this year with their annual music awards. Not only have they confirmed performances from Kanye West & Pusha T, Usher, Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown, they’ve also promised an all-star ‘diva tribute’ to the late great Whitney Houston, lead by the singers mother CeCe Houston.
… And now they’ve added D’Angelo to the bill. A massive scoop for the show who over the past few years have earned a bit of a negative reputation of not being able to put on an a-list show.
I can’t lie, her recent collaboration with Chris Brown had me worried. Not to say ‘Put It Down’ is all bad, it isn’t – it just isn’t strong enough for Brandy and where she is right now. Combine this with a lack of promotion, the failure to release a video quick enough and the ever growing competitive market Brandy is facing – and well, sh*t could get real.
That said, Miss Norwood has now revealed that August 28th will be the day her much anticipated TwoEleven album will be released. Contrary to her earlier announcement of a June release. However, to ease the concerns of those like minded to me – lets not forget that she also confirmed that she is working with Frank Ocean, Timbaland and Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins on the new LP.
Frank Ocean has the capability of writing perfectly suited music for Brandy. He understands contemporary R&B better than most artists around at the moment (see: Beyonce’s ‘Miss You’ or his recent ‘Pyramids’) – I just hope Brandy (moreover, her label/team) choose the best song(s) he can offer. Timbaland has produced a number of brilliant tracks on her previous albums – they have an exciting chemistry. However, it’s Darkchild’s involvement that could potentially be most promising – providing they both go back to what works best for them and ignore current trends. Critically Brandy needs to avoid watered down, produced-just-for-radio songs (see: Brandy & Monica – ‘It All Belongs To Me‘)
As much of a commercial success this album needs to be, at this stage in her career – Brandy also crucially needs the critics on her side. For the first time in a long time Brandy is in a position to re-ignite her career and excite both old and new fans – but it rides on her ability to see and harness the current trends in R&B. For better or worse Usher’s ‘Climax’ did that for him (we’ll ignore the fact (or maybe we shouldn’t?) that he cocked it up with the Euro-Pop trash that followed) - with the right direction and the right songs, Brandy could do the same.
Tonight the likes of Usher, Justin Bieber, Alicia Keys, Chris Brown, Stevie Wonder and a whole heap of others will perform at the Billboard Music Awards. This years show will also pay tribute to the late, great Whitney Houston with her daughter Bobbi Christina accepting the Millennium Award on behalf. We’ll be posting the performances as and when they are available – hit the jump…