Chris Brown has been on a rapping rampage recently, the most obvious example being the single, “look At Me Now,” in which he sings exactly one bar.
While Brown is not alone, and perhaps not even the best singer-turned-rapper out there, with Frank Ocean’s clever verse on “Oldies” holding its own, surprisingly, against the likes of Mike G, Tyler, The Creator and even Earl Sweatshirt, Brown’s rapping is still slightly more than adequate, what it lacks in timbre and lyricism being glided over by Brown’s undeniable flair and ability to sell himself on a track. That same rain-dance emotion he puts into a cut like “Take You Down” can be transferred, it seems, into a more gunmetal application, an amazing–and somewhat ludicrous–hardening act the likes of which have never been seen outside Viridian Forest. But Brown is a showman, as evident by his strongest suit, dance, and he does an admirable job of selling himself as not only a rapper, but enough of a rapper to hang with the likes of Busta, Tunechi and Big K.R.I.T., even if somewhat on their periphery.
In hoping on “Mercy,” Brown is taking somewhat of a calculated risk, at least to the casual observer. But while the instrumentation that opens and laces the track is intimidating at first, the songs structure, at least where the rappers reside, is surprisingly simple. The beat is not exactly “Dipset Anthem” or “Dipset (Santana’s Town)”, beats whose structure is so byzantine and bizarre that the verses the Diplomats laid upon them should be considered underrated. “Mercy” hides its simple, rotating barb, mid-tempo pace and bass heavy bottom behind a blustering layer of cacophony. In reality, the track has about as many lines as Chamonix, and Brown picks a solid blue square. Keeping in freestyle form, the verse is mainly an extended exercise in explaining Breezy’s awesomeness, a content always in vogue. And Brown handles it well, with enough rhymes and syllables to sound good. Missing, however, is the kind of lyrical content that could push him further up the rap chain (which is Cuban link, by the way).
Brown lays down some solid bars over a solid beat, a recipe for a very benign remix on a piece that demands to be intimidated, to be weaponized. But without the drollery of Big Sean, Pusha’s street cred and steel, 2 Chainz’ … well … current popularity, or Kanye’s Jovian ego and all encompassing sense of self worth–these are compliments, by the way–the effort is doomed to being just imperceptibly above average.
Download “Mercy (Freestyle)” here: Chris Brown – “Mercy”
“Mercy (Freestyle)” receives a PAR
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