(Photo: Courtesy of RCA Records)
With the holidays coming up and with a whirlwind of court dates and rehab appearances possibly pushing back his long-awaited album X, Chris Brown decided to give fans an early holiday gift in the form of a free release, a six-song EP titled, X Files [more like "ex files," given the lyrics].
X Files starts with "War for You" and, like many CB songs, it's a smooth sound with a tinge of raunch. The beat is '80s pop with light, earthy piano and subdued drums. Chris gets right to the point, "Step one, I can be your man/You can call me daddy when we f----n' in the sand/Step two, let's go for a ride baby/You gotta hold the stick, I'll drive baby/Step three, I be in these streets/Throwin' up the Westside, checkin' up the P's," the tatted-up crooner sings.
An airy electric guitar opens the next track, "Waiting," which comes off as a not-so-subtle dedication to Chris's on-again off-again arm piece, Karrueche Tran. "You a star now, all up on TV/I made you famous 'cause I put you in the street," he sings. And the hook goes, "Back and forth with the games/ Girl you playin' me/This ain't what I wanted/She said she only wanna party/She in love with everybody."
The real standout of the EP is the synth-heavy banger "Sweet Caroline." It sees Chris teaming up once again with "Look at Me Now" collaborator Bussa Bus, who does his thing effortlessly, intelligibly chopping up syllables while Chris pours out his heart over the track, lamenting, "Feels like you shot me with a .38 or a .45/And my heart's bleeding baby, can't feel my legs, I'm paralyzed/I know you're just in it for the moment, so I'll enjoy the ride."
On "Love 2 Remember," Chris chronicles a couple's squabbles. The track is classic R&B with a slow clap, echoing sounds and Chris singing his own harmonies. "Tell me what's the deal with you/There's something wrong, I feel it too/We hardly see each other and now you wanna talk about space," Chris croons. This could be about any of his past loves.
The infectious "Fantasy" is the quintessential hip hop/R&B fusion with its Down South snare firing over the mellow track. Luda, who reprises his inner-freak from his debut single "What's Your Fantasy," blesses the track while Chris delves back into grimier times, recounting sexual fantasies and formulating new ones. "We 'bout to sweat off your makeup/I'ma take my time/So baby, you don't have to worry/I got you for life."
X Files then closes out straight ratchet. Kid Ink adds to the flavor, dropping a Top 40-friendly verse that centers around club nights and drunken irreverence. Brown's got his bravado back and brushes off a sidepiece that's trying to be his one and only. "I know you wanna be my main girl," he sings.
Though short, X Files offers a broad spectrum, both musically as well as emotionally. With only six songs, it struggles to truly form an identity, wavering between smooth R&B, pop and hip hop, but in a way, that only makes it a more accurate reflection of Brown himself. Even with his well-publicized legal and personal struggles, the sky is still the limit for Chris Brown.
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