Chris Brown turns the spotlight back on his music with his third studio album Graffiti, in stores and online tomorrow. Are the critics willing to give him a second chance or is the writing on the wall? Find out below.
Entertainment Weekly: A clutch of throwaway midtempo tracks don’t seem to justify Brown’s hasty return, and Graffiti hits a few genuinely cringe-y notes—among them, the icky female-orgasm outro on “Take My Time,” a lecherous slow jam better suited to low-rent lotharios like Pretty Ricky. B-
Rolling Stone: Chris Brown has made a bland, occasionally obnoxious, pro forma R&B album. Brown mostly ignores the elephant in the room, churning out punchy dance-pop songs full of club-ready beats and Casanova gestures. 2.5 out of 5
The New York Times: Two songs near the beginning, “So Cold” and “Crawl,” come off as thoughtful, even if they’re not quite mea culpas. In these moments Mr. Brown is pining, mildly apologetic. But mostly he’s moved back to the angular seduction numbers he’s made his specialty.
The Boston Globe: Brown could have simply made an album of club jams. But his decision to share his side of the story is also what perversely makes the eruptions of hurt, anger, and desperation interesting, if not necessarily contenders for repeat listening.
Houston Chronicle: Much of the success of Graffiti lies squarely on the lyrical content and production. And it might have worked—if Brown could carry the material with sheer force of talent. But given his limited abilities, much of the album never takes flight, instead recycling the usual slick touches and arrangements.
Chicago Sun-Times: Sometimes, great art is made by reprehensible human beings, and squaring the two is enormously difficult. Thankfully, that problem isn’t nearly as thorny when reprehensible human beings make art that is thoroughly mediocre and at times just garbage. 1 out of 4
Chicago Tribune: He poses on the cover like a futuristic rocker with a can of spray paint in one robotic hand and a guitar in the other, though the music isn’t nearly as radical as that image implies. Yet several tracks strike a more aggressive stance, a teen artist growing into manhood, and no doubt will sound fantastic on a dancefloor with a booming speaker system. 1 out of 4
Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “I Can Transform Ya,” “Crawl,” “So Cold,” “Famous Girl”