Following yet another tumultuous year of legal troubles and relationship scandals, the now 26-year-old R&B hitmaker Chris Brown returns with his seventh studio album Royalty. Still infamous for his highly publicised personal shortcomings, Brown’s latest release looked set to be the beginning of a new, more mature chapter in this young singer’s life.
Named in honour of his one-year-old daughter, Royalty promised fans a more intimate narrative than Brown has previously offered. With album artwork depicting a loving embrace between the singer and his young daughter, it is surprising that themes regarding fatherhood and life as a single parent feature only fleetingly – if at all. Aside from one heartfelt tribute to his newborn on the title track Little More (Royalty), this record offers seldom more than Brown’s tired formula of tepid dance tracks that have failed to recognise a sonic progression in the genre.
While Brown cannot be blamed for wanting to pursue the same catchy hooks and vibrant compositions that gave him such hits as Yeah 3x, the unoriginal style of production on singles such as Fine By Me simply gets lost amid the dense slurry of this 18-track LP. While the lyrical heart of this album doesn’t stretch far beyond Chris’ latest nightclub escapades, his ability as a vocalist decidedly shines through on every track, with Who’s Gonna (Nobody) notably demonstrating his powerful range.
With a US$1 (Dhs3.60) donation from each album sale sent to charities of Brown’s choosing, Royalty can still be considered a triumph of commercial responsibility. His songwriting may lack the same elixir of soul that defined such records as Exclusive (2007) and Fame (2011), but Brown’s demonstration of maturity beyond the content of this lukewarm album must still be applauded.
The bottom line
Decent, but with little progression for Brown.