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Track Review

Few media events in 2009 captivated the country like Chris Brown’s shocking beating of then-girlfriend (and fellow singer) Rihanna.

Virtually overnight, the 20-year-old Brown shredded his public persona as an easygoing nice guy. He eventually pleaded guilty to felony assault but dodged jail time in exchange for five years probation and six months of community service.

What’s unclear at this point is whether Chris Brown will be equally deft at dodging fan backlash. Middling sales of "I Can Transform Ya," the first single from his third album, Graffiti, arguably indicates it won’t be so easy.

As for the song itself, "I Can Transform Ya" seems an odd choice for a first single if Brown really wants would-be fans to believe he’s a changed man. Why? Because the track doesn’t offer much evidence that he’s learned how to treat a woman as anything other than an object.

Drenched in robot-like Transformer noises and special audio effects, its core message is that Chris has the power to "transform" a girl’s life by buying her whatever she can dream of.

"Anything ya want," Brown brags, "I can get it for ya." Louis Vuitton bags? No problem. How about Jimmy Choo shoes? She can have those, too. Ciroc vodka is another brand that gets named-checked in Brown’s lavish promises about the lifestyle he can provide.

Now, a man promising to provide for a woman isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But Chris sees the woman in question here as a plaything to be shaped however he wants ("See potential in ya, let me mold that/I can transform ya"). Seems to me like someone convicted of savagely beating his girlfriend should go easy on lyrics about molding and transforming another woman.

Chris is clearly trying to buy his way back into everybody’s good graces by promising to pamper his next girl, as if lavishing gifts on somebody new is enough to atone for his violent past. Showering material things on a woman is, it seems, his only measuring stick for what constitutes a healthy relationship.

Oh, and sexual contact, too, of course.

Suggestive innuendo is all over this verse: "Something like Pinocchio/If you lie down, I’ma gonna grow/Wanna see me do it big/I can show you how it goes." Chris concludes, "Take you from an amateur to being professional."

And contributions from guest rapper Lil Wayne only aggravate things. "I can’t dance," Wayne raps, "But I can dance on ya/ … I take you to where it is warmer/Then I gotta rip your dress off like a warm up/But I’m just getting warmed up."

Might’ve Chris suggested, "Um, Wayne, maybe we should leave out the line about ripping a girl’s dress off"?


Positive Elements

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The first single from Chris Brown’s third album peaked at No. 20.

Record Label





October 29, 2009

On Video

Year Published



Adam R. Holz

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