Review Summary: Chris Brown's Fortune is an [REDACTED] album.
This review was written on May 6, 2012
I am sitting in a cold room the size of a small gymnasium. The walls are slate gray. I’m in the direct center; in front of me are a steel table with one notebook and one pen and a leather chair facing away from me, beyond that is a closed door, flanked on either side by a menacing pair of huge speakers. I’m somewhere in Hollywood, California. I filled my chest with a deep gulp of air in an attempt to make my environment feel less sterile and unforgiving but to no avail.
Lets back up a little. One month before hand I had received an invitation to an exclusive listening party for Chris Brown’s up coming album Fortune. I was invited as an “esteemed Sputnik Music critic” which was odd because I hadn’t written anything for them in months nor was I considered staff of any kind. This was clearly some kind of mailing mix up but there was no way in hell I was going to pass this up. I get a free trip to California and a chance to rub elbows with the critical community? Totally worth listening to some lame pop album for an hour or two. I sent back my RSVP and the tickets come in the mail a week later.
When I got to the airport, I was escorted into a van with blacked out windows, taken to the facility in silence, and escorted into this room. I had a feeling my elbows were going to remain unrubbed that day.
I had been sitting in that chair for three hours when a knock rattled the door. It opened a crack and a voice echoed through the room, “Chris Brown is ready to see you now.” Terror pulsed through me. My eyes began darting around the room, desperate for some kind of escape. Too late. The door burst open. Chris Brown, decked head to toe in gaudy designer fashions, stands in the doorway, legs spread, silhouetted against the light from outside. For a second, I thought he was going to mount me. Instead, he seized one end of his Oakley sunglasses and fired them onto the adjacent wall, where they shatter and drop onto a pile of broken sunglasses. I realize he has done this every time he has entered this room.
He saunters up to the leather chair, twirls on his heel three times before dropping into it and spinning to face me.
Totally and utterly unrubbed.
He reeks of booze and ego. In fact, I don’t think he had been drinking at all, I was smelling pure and unadulterated arrogance seeping from his pores.
“Soooo” he starts, “My music is the sh*t, you know that, and I’m being a gentleman and giving you the privilage to hear my perfect new album in advance so you can write about how great it is for Mikhail Music.”
“Uhh, its Sputni-“
He points one finger to the ceiling and on cue the album starts.
I recognize it as lead single “Turn Up the Music”. It’s actually not awful; if it were by anyone else I might praise its heady maximalism. Chris mistakes my tolerance for enjoyment and begins dancing vigorously while maintaining total eye contact with me. It’s creepy. He seems to be dancing purely for his own pleasure; it’s like watching someone athletically masturbate. While they look you right in the eyes.
The next group of songs drifts by with little notice, I don’t think one solitary second of Chris’ voice goes un-auto tuned on this record. Suddenly, Chris stops dancing and sits down to face me again as a ballad creeps out of the speakers. It’s a disgustingly manipulative song, it involves Chris chastising his girlfriend for having the nerve to bring up his infidelity, “Everything I say right now/Is gonna be used in another fight…Just let the past/be the past”. I look up from my notebook and to my amazement; tears are streaking down Chris Brown’s cheeks. “After everything that’s happened, I just want people to move on you know” he stammers. Clearly he’s talking about the time he brutally battered and threatened to murder Rihanna, he seems to regard this as his cross to bear. “I did my time dammit!” He embellishes this part with melodramatic flare, throwing his head back to cry the last word at the ceiling. I check my notes; he was ordered 6 months of community service. Time done indeed.
Suddenly he snaps back to normal. “In the music video for this one I save the world, it’s going to be f*ckin’ tits.”
Following that comes the endless sex jams. The chorus to one goes, “Let me sex you babe/Girl, you better not change your mind”. I feel bile churning in my stomach. Once again, Chris seems totally unaware of my presence, enthusiastically humping the empty air. A group of songs drift by. My forehead is on the desk now, I’m starting to wonder if I can drive my pen into my ears far enough to deafen myself and
remove the memory of the music.
When I raise my head, Chris is standing next to one of the speakers, his hand on a volume knob I cannot believe I didn’t see before.
“Ready for this sh*t bee-atch!?”
“Whats going on? Whats this song? “
The music is rising in intensity, “Don’t wake me up, up, up up, up, up.”
He begins turning up the volume.
I fold my hands and bow my head, “Strike me down lord, strike me from this earth.”
“Don’t wake me up, up up, up. Don’t wake me up. Don’t wake me…”
Suddenly he slams the knob as high as it can go.
“DON’T WAKE ME UHHHHHHHHHHH-PPP-ULA-AH-LU! YEE-AHU!!”
An auto tuned buzz saw slices through my forehead; the last thing I see before passing out is Chris Brown doing backflips.
When I awake, Chris is sitting in front of me on a cell phone.
“Yeah I’ve been working on this painting, its me as Jesus on a cross cause that’s how I feel you know? The f*cking f*ggots in the media keep crucifying me. Well, I’ll talk to you later, this punk b*tch passed out because of how great my music is.”
He ends the call. “So what’d you think?” he sneers.
I clear my throat and the blood from my ears. I feel supernaturally calm and collected.
“When you were a child you saw your mom abused by her boyfriend right?”
His eyes narrow, I should stop now but I keep going.
“You’ve fulfilled the cycle of violence by abusing your ex-girlfriend. But that somehow isn’t the worst part. In the wake of this, you’ve become something that is unprecedented in modern culture. You have become a pro-abuse role model. You’ve shown millions of men that you can repeatedly slam your girlfriend’s head into a car window and go on to make huge piles of money and sell millions of records while doing almost nothing to atone for what you’ve done. People keep bringing up the incident, because you clearly could give less of a sh*t. Your music is a reflection of who you are; even when you end up with some interesting production you inseminate it with your toxic personality. Fortune
is a waste of the disc is printed on.”
His fists clench and he begins to rise from his seat. “This is it”, I think to myself as I close my eyes, “I wonder if I can get a book deal.”
Suddenly a sack is thrown over my head, I’m dragged from the room and forced to sign an agreement that states I wont publish anything on the album for a year. I’m shoved into the harsh light of day. After regaining my senses I check my pockets, “Sonvabitch”, I sigh, “They took my return ticket”.