The seventh album from Chris Brown entitled, Royalty, can be split down the middle into two distinct sounds – the pop vibe that the singer seems to gravitate towards in order to pull in more than just R&B fans, and the CB whose voice glides through beats in a smooth and appealing way. Fourteen cuts detail an individual caught in a vortex of having to face the responsibilities of being a dad, and continuing his foray into redefining himself as an entertainer.
The opener takes a page from Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” with its synth laced production, and surprisingly works. These types of quiet storm, mid-tempo melodies are where Chris tends to shine as evidenced by many of his previous hits, “Yo (Excuse Me Miss),” “With You” and “Don’t Judge Me.” Yet, it appears from Chris’ perspective, he is more bent on producing songs on Royalty similar to “Forever,” which catapulted him to be continuously played on top 40 stations.
The first single “Liquor,” mixes the two mentioned vibes and is not all bad, but there is a sense that he is just tossing out songs at this point because he’s signed to a deal. “Zero,” is one of the more enjoyable songs on Royalty about not giving any f**ks about a partner who’s detached themselves from you completely. The song is currently playing on top 40 radio, which suggests that the genie did grant CB’s wish in trying to regain the audience back that he lost some time ago.
“Picture Me Rollin,” finds the singer spitting bars, and is nothing but filler, even though he sounds as if he had fun while creating the song. “Little Bit,” similarly showcases the sonic proclamations made on the opener. It is conceivably ‘classic’ Chris if that phrase can even be uttered at this point. The finale, “Little More (Royalty)” is a nice ode to his daughter, yet the lyricism also unusually discusses lovemaking as well, so the listener may be left scratching their head as to what he was thinking talking about both topics on the same song.
Royalty is plagued by an incoherence that unfortunately is not what one would expect from CB at this point in his career. It vacillates between a guy not ready to leave the ratchet lifestyle of turning up in the club behind, and one who is ready to be a role model for his daughter. The album is underwhelming where it should otherwise dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s. For this reason, the listener will undoubtedly be left wondering what direction album number eight will take on.