If there's one thing Chris Brown knows how to do, it's grab a headline. And usually not in a good way.
Two weeks before Fortune went on sale, Brown and Canadian rapper Drake tangled with each other (along with their respective entourages) in a barroom brawl at the New York City nightclub W.i.P. Bottles and fists flew—a melee allegedly ignited by their mutual, competitive sexual passion for singer Rihanna (to whom Brown has been once again linked romantically). The legal fallout has yet to completely settle, as several people, including some not attached to either entertainers' retinue, were severely injured in the fight.
It's par for the course for the 23-year-old singer. After narrowly avoiding prison time for physically assaulting Rihanna in 2009, Brown continues to insist in interviews and Tweets that he's a changed man who's learning, growing and maturing. His actions speak louder though. And so do his lyrics. His fifth album, Fortune, seems more interesting in trumpeting Brown's bad-boy bona fides than proffering much evidence that he's actually growing up.
On "4 Years Old," Chris suggests that a loving connection with another person matters more than money. He also admits fame and fortune have left him feeling isolated ("I'm so alone/I feel so alone/So alone in this world/Got everything I want").
"Stuck on Stupid" is the only song on the album that decouples love from sex as Brown sings about how a case of twitterpation has him tied up in romantic knots ("You got me stuck on stupid/ … Girl I'm so in love/I'm stupid").
Subtlety is not Brown's strong suit, but we get a bit of it on lead single "Turn It Up." We still get the point loud and clear, though, as he looks forward to combining a night of dancing with drink ("Turn the music up, fill you cup, and drink it down") and, he hopes, sex ("Girl, dance with me, just dance with me/Girl I can see that, I really wanna touch that/Baby, can I feel that?").
From there, things proceed into far more explicit territory. The first 10 songs and the last two offer varying visions of Brown's idea of the good life: Namely, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex and more sex. And, occasionally, some alcohol and marijuana. These foul lines on "Till I Die" are representative of the way he sees and uses women as disposable sex objects: "More drink, pour it up/More weed, roll it up/Whoa there, ho, you know wassup/Quit hoggin' the blunt, b‑‑ch, slow down/Pimps up, hoes down/A‑‑ up, nose down/D‑‑n, b--ch, I do it." On "Biggest Fan," he tells a woman, "Girl, we got one night only/ … You're my biggest fan, girl/I want you to holler for me." "2012" graphically imagines a night of epic sex at the end of the world. On "Sweet Love," he instructs his partner to "get naked," promising, "Tonight is the night/That I change your life/Let me control your body."
There's more: "Strip" crudely ponders which stripper Brown will invite home for more extracurricular sex. And further pockmarking the album's already barren landscape are explicit references to oral sex, condoms and specific sexual attributes of the male and female anatomy. Multiple songs contain f- and s-words, as well as many references to "b‑‑ches" and "n-ggas."
Risqué liner note photos depict a suited-up Brown draping women clothed in far less across himself, as if they were fashion accessories for an urban king.
On Feb. 29, 2012, Chris Brown tweeted, "I hope this album shows growth and positivity to all my fans and will inspire them to live life to the fullest!!! #FORTUNE."
How would you, personally, define the words "growth and positivity"? I suspect there are any number of ways that someone could articulate choices and values that reflect a healthy, maturing perspective on what matters most in life.
But not one of them shows up on Fortune.
What, exactly, is a constant litany of demeaning, degrading and misogynistic lyrics about sex with strippers and groupies likely to inspire? In what universe does Brown's insatiable craving for sensuality constitute "growth and positivity"?
Fortune could only be considered inspiring by someone who aspires to be a pimp, a strip-club owner … or a rapper. It paints a picture of a man whose vision of life and the world is utterly constricted, someone who's so addicted to casual sex that it seems a herculean effort for him to even imagine another topic.