Chris Brown surprised fans with a 34-track mixtape, including an additional bonus track Nov. 27, three weeks before his upcoming album “Royalty” is set to be released, making the mixtape aptly titled “Before the Party.”
But, the bombshell doesn’t deliver, and it comes with a few oddities.
“Counterfeit” kicks off the tracklist and features Wiz Khalifa and Rihanna. His work with Rihanna is ironic, considering he was recently denied a visa to tour in Australia on character grounds, according to Peter Dutton, the immigration minister, in an article from The Guardian. The article suggests the denial resulted from Brown’s guilty plea in the assault of Rihanna in 2009. This paradoxical obstacle prevents him from touring across Australia to promote “Royalty.”
“Counterfeit” reminds fans that Brown performs best with collaborative efforts, as the rest of the album peaks at tracks created with other artists, too.
Perhaps it’s the slight differentiation in music that makes these songs highlights in an otherwise boring, 35-track-long journey. After all, the entire point of a collaboration is to have another artist influence a piece.
“Hell of a Night,” featuring French Montana and Fetty Wap, sounds just like another Fetty Wap radio hit with the small addition of a few sing-song hooks from Brown and a short verse from French Montana.
“Text Message” is injected with Tyga’s style, as the track begins with the Compton rapper’s verse. Brown’s familiar singing sandwiched between Tyga’s verses creates collaborative unity.
“Holy Angel,” with the help of Pusha T, is another high point. The rapper’s street style hip-hop puts an interesting twist on the eerie, twinkling melody. Brown complements this slow melody with his sweet, serenading vocals.
“Before the Party” sounds like the same, old style Brown hasn’t deviated from in all the years he’s made music. His heavily autotuned and sometimes layered vocals paired with high-pitched, synthesized drumbeats create a comfortable pleasure for his fans, but the mark of a truly growing, great artist is the evolution of their work, while maintaining a glimmer of that original style.
The 2015 edition of Brown sounds too similar to the early-2000s version of Brown. Hyped up pop-meets-rap tracks, like “Go” and “Ghetto Tales.” These songs are balanced with slow, R&B songs having the obvious intention of being sex anthems, like “Text Message” and “Sex.”
On the surface, it seems that Brown sticks to this blueprint for lack of creativity or comfort of past success. However, Brown may have something up his sleeve. Perhaps he’s saving his groundbreaking music for his upcoming album, giving fans the mundane, mediocre material for free and positioning his superior music for a price. This 35-track mixtape is obviously promotional for his upcoming album.
But, if history repeats itself, listeners shouldn’t hold their breath because the album won’t deliver.