Graffiti (Chris Brown album)
|Studio album by Chris Brown|
|Released||December 7, 2009
(See release history)
|Chris Brown chronology|
|Singles from Graffiti|
Graffiti is the third studio album by American R&B and pop recording artist Chris Brown. It is the follow-up to his successful second album Exclusive (2007). The album was produced during 2008 to 2009 by several record producers, including Polow Da Don, Swizz Beatz, The Runners, and Brian Kennedy. Primarily an R&B and pop outing, Graffiti incorporates elements of electropop and hip hop music with synthesizers and electronic-influenced beats.
The album debuted at number seven on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, selling 102,489 copies in its first week. To date, "Graffiti" has sold 360,000 copies in the US. It became his third consecutive top-ten debut in the United States and produced three singles that achieved moderate chart success. Upon its release, Graffiti received generally negative reviews from most music critics. Graffiti was nominated for two Grammy Awards, one for Best Contemporary R&B Album and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for the track, "Take My Time" featuring fellow R&B singer Tank.
In 2008, Chris Brown commenced work on his third studio album and confirmed the title, Graffiti, at the 2008 American Music Awards. It was revealed in June 2008 that Brown was working with producers The Runners to create an "amazing, insane record. Something you've never heard before." Producer Scott Storch, who had previously worked with Brown, also announced his involvement in the album stating, "He's good. I'm working with him in Orlando on some stuff." Recording for the album primarily took place in Orlando and on September 5, 2009, via Twitter, Brown announced that he had completed the album, and also revealed that the album would be released outside of the US on December 7 and in the US on December 8. Speaking to MTV, Swizz Beatz revealed, "he's got something to prove," and "has worked on 60–70 songs."
The album's music incorporates R&B, pop, rock, and Eurodance styles. Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune found most of its music suitable for the dance-floor and said like on Rihanna's post-romance Rated R, "Brown aims to expand his music beyond hip-hop-flavored R&B by embracing Euro-disco, Goth-rock and new wave." Kot compared Brown's work to the "cross-genre experiments of Kanye West, Saul Williams, and Lil Wayne." According to Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times, most of the album is in "upbeat party mode", mixed with power ballads, assumingly to "illuminate" his remorse over the Rihanna incident.
Lead single "I Can Transform Ya", lyrically about introducing someone to a luxurious life, has a robotic-crunk groove, while making a heavy use of synthesizers and guitar riffs. "Pass Out" featuring Eva Simons,influenced by disco, samples the "Call on me" Steve Winwood's "Valerie", which was also used in Eric Prydz worldwide dance hit, "Call on Me". The song has been compared to Lady Gaga. "Sing Like Me" and "Take My Time" recall Brown's earlier R&B/pop work. The hip-hop-influenced "Wait", with Game and R&B singer Trey Songz features "bouncy sirens", and according to Jon Caramanica of The New York Times is closest to capturing the "frenetic energy" of Brown's early singles. The song has been called the male counterpart to Keri Hilson's "Knock You Down", which Brown references in the song and was also produced by "Wait" producer Polow da Don. Sarah Rodman of Boston Globe said the song needed a dance floor for full realization. According to Dan Gennoe of Yahoo! Music UK, "I.Y.A" is a tribute to 80's music, and the song has been compared to Blake Lewis' "Heartbreak on Vinyl.
"So Cold" has been described as a "piano-laden apology" as "Famous Girl" has been called a "heavy hearted dance track." The previous track as well as "Crawl" feature an apologetic Brown, pining at points. The previous has been described to bear a sonic resemblance to Madonna's "Drowned World/Substitute for Love." The latter, "Famous Girl", featuring new wave influences and a bouncy, light melodic line, seems to throw accusations of infidelity in Rihanna's direction, as well as implying she "had a temper of her own." The song also references songs Drake's "Best I Ever Had", Hilson's "Knock You Down", Keyshia Cole's "Heaven Sent", Beyoncé's "Halo", and Jazmine Sullivan's "Bust Your Windows", as well as Rihanna's "Disturbia" and his "Forever", as Brown laments on writing the first song and confronts the rumor about busting Rihanna's car windows. "Take My Time" features R&B singer Tank, and has slow drums, and heavy female breathing, prompting innuendo. Jon Caramanica of The New York Times said that "Lucky Me", lyrically about downs of life in the limelight, has a melody lifted from Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror."
Release and promotion
The week of the album's release, Brown took to his Twitter page to express his extreme displeasure with stores that are not visibly stocking the album, including a Walmart in Wallingford, Connecticut, stating: "The[y] didnt even have my album in the back… not on shelves, saw for myself, i'm tired of this shit. major stores [are] blackballing my cd. [They are] not stockin the shelves and lying to costumers. what the fuck do i gotta do. im not biting my tongue about shit else… the industry can kiss my ass. WTF… yeah i said it and i aint retracting shit...we talked to the managers and they didnt even know anything. wow!!! but they had Alicia Keys' album, The Element of Freedom, ready for release for this tuesday comin … the manager told me that when there are new releases its mandatory to put em on the shelves.. BUT NO SIGN OF #GRAFFITI. BS. No disprespect to Alicia at all, just givin an example to whos album is loaded and ready to go next week".
Packaging and cover art
The album was released internationally on December 7, 2009, and in the US on December 8, 2009. It was released on all major formats and, in addition to the standard edition, an extended deluxe edition was also released, containing an additional six songs. The international edition differs slightly from the US edition, with one extra song ("Girlfriend") appearing on the standard edition and another ("Chase Our Love") appearing on the deluxe extended edition with the inclusion of track ("Movie") omitted. The European deluxe edition was issued as a single-CD, while US and Japanese deluxe editions are two-disc sets. The album cover displays Brown with robotic hands, wearing black clothing and sunglasses, holding a guitar over his shoulder, and spray-painting the album title. To promote the album, Brown embarked on the "Fan Appreciation Tour" on October 27, 2009, in New Jersey. The tour took place in the US. The tour ended on December 15, 2009, in New York and a portion of the proceeds from the tour will go to charity to help the victims of domestic violence as well as people with developmental disabilities.
"I Can Transform Ya" was released as the album's lead single on September 29, 2009. The song received mostly positive reviews, noting the song's club feel and catchiness. "I Can Transform Ya"'s reached the top ten of New Zealand, whilst achieving chart success in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The song's dance-heavy accompanying music video features choreography with hooded ninjas, and makes puns on the Transformers series. "Crawl" and "Sing Like Me" were released on iTunes on November 24, 2009, the first as the album's second single, and the latter as a promotional single. The previous received positive to mixed reviews, reaching the top twenty in Japan and New Zealand. Its accompanying music video features Brown and American R&B singer Cassie as his love interest, as he yearns for their relationship on a winter night in a city and in a desert scene.
The album debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200, selling 102,000 copies in its first week. Graffiti was the week's second highest debut, only behind Glee: The Music, Volume 2. Its total sales of 341,000 copies to date were disappointing compared to his previous two albums.
|The A.V. Club||F|
|Los Angeles Times|||
|The New York Times||mixed|
Graffiti received negative reviews from most music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 39, based on 12 reviews, which indicates "generally unfavorable reviews". Rolling Stone writer Jody Rosen expressed a mixed response towards its "punchydance-pop songs full of club-ready beats and Casanova gestures", calling it "a bland, occasionally obnoxious, proforma R&B album". Slant Magazine's Eric Henderson commented that "the only compelling thing about the incoherent Graffiti is the material (both external and internal) that makes it even less palatable than a simply below-average collection of paint-by-numbers R&B beats." Michaelangelo Matos of The A.V. Club gave the album an F rating and stated "The production is clean and often lively, and Brown sings well enough. The problem is what he’s singing". Allmusic editor Andy Kellman also dismissed the album's songwriting and called Brown "exceptionally insufferable" on most of the songs. Chicago Sun-Times writer Jim DeRogatis gave the album one out of four stars and described it as "thoroughly mediocre and at times just garbage". Pete Paphides of The Times panned its ballads, called them a "slopfest of mawkish penitence". Jon Caramanica of The New York Times questioned the lyrics' substance and called Graffiti "a curiously faceless album that largely thumbs its nose at close reading".
However, Steve Jones of USA Today gave the album two-and-a-half out of four stars and commented that Brown "succeeds in expanding his sonic horizons with rock and Euro-dance influenced rhythms that are sure to ignite dance floors and innervate his electrifying performances". Billboard 's Gail Mitchell complimented its music as "a forward-moving fusion of R&B, pop, rock and Euro-dance". Thomas Golianpoulous of Spin said Brown sounded "generally remorseful", but said that Brown didn't "let any of this obstruct a good party, complimenting the album's "monster club tracks." Despite writing that it has filler tracks, Dan Gennoe of Yahoo! Music gave the album a seven out of 10 rating and called it the "highest point of his career". Chicago Tribune writer Greg Kot noted a "inconsistent and sometimes contradictory tone" in Brown's lyrics, but commented that the album has "several top-notch pieces of innocuous dance music". Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly complimented its "zero-gravity pleasures", writing that "at its best moments, it still floats". Sarah Rodman of The Boston Globe commended the music and production, but criticized Brown's songwriting, stating "As co-writer of 12 of the 13 tracks, that’s where he sabotages a lot of the album’s purely musical promise". Joey Guerra of the Houston Chronicle said the album might have worked, but much of it "never takes flight, instead recycling the usual slick touches and arrangements." BBC Online's Jude Rogers noted "slinky RnB body-poppers and cheesy, breathy ballads" and commented that "plodding melodies draw attention to Brown's unpleasantly macho style".
|1.||"I Can Transform Ya" (featuring Lil Wayne and Swizz Beatz)||Swizz Beatz||3:48|
|2.||"Sing Like Me"||
|5.||"What I Do" (featuring Plies)||
|7.||"Take My Time" (featuring Tank)||
|9.||"Pass Out" (featuring Eva Simons)||
|10.||"Wait" (featuring Trey Songz and Game)||
|International bonus track|
|14.||"Girlfriend" (featuring Lupe Fiasco)||
|15.||"Chase Our Love"||
|16.||"Gotta Be Ur Man"||
|17.||"Movie" (Bonus track)||
||Polow da Don||4:04|
|18.||"For Ur Love"||
|19.||"I Need This"||
|20.||"I Love U" (featuring Ester Dean)||
|21.||"Brown Skin Girl" (featuring Sean Paul and Rock City)||
|22.||"Graffiti" (iTunes pre-order bonus track)||Carlos & Steven Battey||Cool & Dre||5:12|
|23.||"They Say" (Japanese Bonus track)||
- (co.) signifies a co-producer.
|Australian Albums Chart||40|
|French Albums Chart||134|
|German Albums Chart||83|
|Irish Albums Chart||47|
|New Zealand Albums Chart||40|
|UK Albums Chart||55|
|UK R&B Chart||11|
|US Billboard 200||7|
|US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums||1|
|US Billboard 200||113|
|Germany||December 7, 2009|
|United Kingdom||December 7, 2009|
|United States||December 8, 2009|
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