Undeniable talent. That's what allows Chris Brown to prevail despite the steepest of obstacles, mostly self-inflicted. Part of that talent is being a consummate curator and keeping his sound on-trend. The biggest criticism of "X" will no doubt be how it tends to bend way too much and all over the place, as it struggles to be all things to all people.
We still haven't heard the best version of Chris Brown yet; we haven't gotten his Off The Wall. Too much inner conflict remains, and you can hear the struggle is on with this album. These songs are Moments, not Movements.
The next episode for this artist has got to be to be pushing edges creatively, inject some go-left "Yeezyness" into the process so Brown can tug at the edges of a whole genre- something only someone of his caliber can even do. Case in point: he wasn't just on the cutting edge of the house-influenced trend that overtook R&B several years ago----with the help of producer Brian Kennedy--- Brown single-handedly pushed the tempo up 120 bpms beginning as far back as 2008 with "Forever". Now more than five+ years and so much fucking drama later, the kid is finally turning down.... and for what? Well if the highlights on "X" are to be believed, it's to bring back the R&B ballad.
"New Flame" with Usher (still the Original Gangsta of R&B SlowJams) and written by the hottest pen in the game right now Verse Simmonds is a classic smash, already well on its way to topping the charts:
And the reflective cool down of "Autumn Leaves"--- complete with a verse from Kendrick Lamar to make sure yo' asses were paying attention to it: Even the interludes chill out....
Overall, I'd cherry pick jams off this. It's not a whole-album-must. You've probably already heard the 'radio' bangers here since "Loyal", "Fine China", and "Love More" with Minaj are all dominating our airspace at the moment, but if you were hoping to scope a true masterpiece from an artist who is actually capable of it? Perhaps next record.