Chris Brown returns somewhat anticipated with his 2011 fourth studio effort, F.A.M.E. (Deluxe Edition) After 2009's Graffiti failed to captivate the critics or charts (despite a random pair of Grammy nominations), 2011's effort matches, even surpasses Brown's high watermarked Exclusive-The Forever Edition, which included radio-critically acclaimed hits "Kiss Kiss," "Take You Down," "With You," and "Forever." F.A.M.E. arrives with its own interesting sound, serving as a melting pot of varying styles including overt R&B, pop, european-pop, and the recent electronic-R&B movement. It may not be a perfect effort, but there is more than enough captivating material to make this perhaps "Breezy's" best and most rounded effort.
"Deuces," the popular single appearing from Brown's `Fan of a Fan Mixtape' (with MC Tyga), is a welcome opener with its superb production work and smart songwriting. The explicit side of Brown truly unveils itself with this effort, whether it be his transition to adulthood or sheer youthful rebelliousness. Tyga and Kevin McCall are both featured on this excellent opener, one of the album's valedictorian moments. "Up To You" is another gem, produced by the Underdogs and adhering to a solely urbanized sound. The songwriting is sincere, contrasting the colorful expletives featured on "Deuces" in favor of: I'm not gonna be the one to mess this up, Cause I've been left up in love before, I'm not be the one who take the back seat girl, We can take our time..." "No BS," featuring Kevin McCall, is another winner, again playing up Brown's newly found `adult' image.
"Look At Me Now" is certainly the album's oddity, finding Brown rapping alongside the hip-hop elite Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne. Sure, Brown's rhymes actually work, but let's face it, his company, particularly motor mouth Rhymes clearly eclipse his rhymes with incredible agility. The production is genius with it's minimalist scope. "She Ain't You" samples Michael Jackson ("Human Nature") and SWV ("Right Here") to create another incredible, memorable cut. The songwriting suits Brown's `lover man' image. "Say It With Me" finds Brown tearing up a clubby-sounding Harmony "H Money" production. "Say It With Me" comes over as an updated Michael Jackson number. "Yeah 3x" contrasts "Say It With Me" in favor of the popular European-pop sound. It doesn't sound completely different from say the Black Eyed Peas's "I Gotta Feeling," but it works well and shows off Brown's incredible versatility.
"Next To You" features fellow heartthrob Justin Bieber on a solid duet; the chemistry between voices is a good match. "All Back" is the better cut, contrasting anything else on the album at this point. Here, Brown is supported by guitar and rhythmic drums. Vocally, he is `on point' by a mile! "Wet The Bed," featuring the ubiquitous Ludacris, is solid, but not the album's shining moment by any means. "Oh My Love" falls in the same boat, but features more driving, spastic production work by Harmony "H Money" Samuels. "Should've Kissed You" is pleasant while closer on the standard edition "Beautiful People" (featuring Benny Benassi) is a bit odd to say the least.
The deluxe edition of the album features a couple of extra cuts, though it is arguable whether they are truly `gems' or not. "Bomb," featuring Wiz Khalifa is a grade `B,' as is "Love the Girls" (featuring Game). "Paper, Scissors, Rock" is enjoyable, and features Big Sean & Timbaland. "Beg For It" is the best cut, ending the effort in the balladry that Brown seems so adept at.
Overall, F.A.M.E. is a fine effort. The front half of the album is the most effective, though there are no outright missteps. By all means, this effort eclipses the ill-suiting Graffiti, which is a huge step in the right direction for Brown. Fans should be pleased with Brown's fourth studio effort.