With the release of Graffiti, his third album for Jive Records, singer-songwriter Chris Brown cultivates a deeply personal effort that resonates with reflection, redemption and renewal. The 20-year old grapples with his sense of self in an art form that is reflective of the moment, as he enters his prime in the midst of a challenging juncture in his life. Brown, already a widely accomplished multi-platinum artist, builds upon his signature sound. “Graffiti exemplifies the many types and colors of art, music and fashion that I love and how I express myself,” he explains. “It's my art... my graffiti.”
In 2005, show business natural 16-year old Chris Brown emerged from small town Tappahannock, Virginia. His star rose swiftly, as his promising skills drew comparisons to his idols Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. His self-titled debut album, which was certified double-platinum, featured the #1 Scott Storch-produced smash hit “Run It!” (featuring Juelz Santana) and the Top 10 pop singles “Yo (Excuse Me Miss)” and “Gimme That.” He earned Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best R&B Contemporary Album in addition to a nationally televised performance on Awards night in 2007 with Lionel Richie and Smokey Robinson joining them for a medley of their respective hits. In 2006 he earned three Billboard Awards (Artist, Male Artist and New Artist of the Year), a Soul Train Award (Best R&B/Soul New Artist), two BET Awards (Best New Artist, Viewer’s Choice), a Teen Choice trophy (Choice Music Breakout Artist Male), and an NAACP Image Award (Outstanding New Artist).
The accolades continued with his 2007 sophomore album Exclusive, which reached platinum-plus status and spawned the #1 smash hits “With You,” “Forever,” and “Kiss Kiss” (featuring and produced by T-Pain). He was the most nominated artist at the 2008 Teen Choice Awards (with eleven nominations) five of which he won including Choice Music Male Artist. He also was awarded three 2008 American Music Awards (Favorite Male Artist-Pop, Favorite Male Artist-Soul/R&B Music, and well as Artist of the Year (also named by the same title by Billboard Magazine)), four 2008 BET Awards (including Best Male R&B Artist and Best Collaboration with T-Pain for “Kiss Kiss”), an MTV Video Music Award (Best Male Video for “With You”), a 2008 NAACP Award for Outstanding Male Artist, a 2008 World Music Award for World’s Best Male R&B Artist, and also two more Grammy nominations including Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for “Take You Down.” Early this year he took home two People’s Choice Awards (including Favorite Male Singer).
In Brown’s Graffiti, the writing on the wall is unforgettable—a dizzying journey across the musical spectrum, as he explores the ups and downs of life lessons learned. “[Graffiti’s] got all different shapes and sizes and colors, so that’s what my music brings — different feelings, different emotions. It brings different genres of music together all in one," Brown told YRB Magazine. The new album features collaborations with fellow platinum artists Lil Wayne and Swizz Beatz (“I Can Tranform Ya”) as well as hit songwriter/producers Polow Da Don (“So Cold,” “Wait”, “Gotta Be Ur Man”, “I Love U”), The Runners (“What I Do”), Ryan Leslie (“Famous Girl”), and Brian Kennedy (“Pass Out,” “I’ll Go”).
Futuristic funk dazzles on his first single "I Can Transform Ya," featuring Lil Wayne and producer Swizz Beatz, making for an imaginative club banger and immediate showstopper in its debut on the Billboard charts. In stylistic contrast, his second single “Crawl,” produced by Adam Messinger and Nasri Atweh, begins with Brown’s voice preeminent as the orchestral builds in a tender ode to love lost. “Why did I change the pace?/ Heart were never meant to race.” The growth of his voice is evident in his full-bodied tenor.
“What I Do” featuring Plies, changes up the vibe, invoking the saucy, romantic side of Brown, accentuated by his quick-witted flow and Plies’ finesse. Following this trajectory is “Sing Like Me,” a melodic, whimsical flirtation produced by Big Makk, as Chris playfully serenades the ladies. Brown advances to the bedroom with “Take My Time,” featuring Tank, in a slow burner that recreates a moment of intimacy accentuated by producer Da Bizzness’s sexy backdrop. “I want to take my time/ I want to do you right,” Brown reveals.
Yet, this is a Chris Brown album, which means there is a time to dance. Dance-floor compatible “I.Y.A.,” an acronym for “In Your Arms,” is nostalgic tip of the hat to the synth era with distinctive Chris Breezy inflection. The club won’t be able to resist the call of “Wait” with Trey Songz and Game chiming in for pure undeniable party music.
Brown, who has written much of the material on Graffiti, refocuses on a message of gratitude. “Lucky Me” broaches the concept of staying positive in the face of personal challenge. Produced by Jevon Hill, Brown reveals the words a man coming of age and owning up to responsibility. It’s a song with universal appeal for getting through the tough times. The album’s closer, “I’ll Go,” is a bittersweet ballad for the ages imprinted with Brown’s poetic phrasing about closing chapters, letting go, and moving forward.
True to form, Chris Brown is currently back on the stage, touring 18 cities on the “Fan Appreciation Tour” as his album drops. The tour is an extension of his charitable work with a portion of the proceeds donated to Best Buddies International. Founded by Anthony Kennedy Shriver in 1989, Best Buddies is the world’s largest non-profit organization devoted solely to providing friendships, jobs and leadership opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. While on tour, Brown will visit with Best Buddies participants, and encourage his fans to consider volunteering their time to work with those in their own communities who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The Jenesse Center, based in Los Angeles, will also receive a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales. The Center, founded in 1980, is a non-profit organization that provides culturally sensitive comprehensive, centralized base of support and services. Their goal is to empower and equip women and men, address the needs of the children and strengthen families for the next generation.
Brown’s abilities extend beyond the concert arena and recording booth. He’s an experienced actor who made his big screen debut in Stomp The Yard in 2007 as well as a major role in the holiday feature film This Christmas. His latest film Takers, is due for release in early 2010.
It’s a new decade for Chris Brown, the one-time teen sensation who has evolved into a celebrated artist for the ages, leaving his signature in the faith of Graffiti.
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