Since debuting in 2005, Chris Brown’s buildup as an all-rounder artist has made him one of the most complete creators the music industry has witnessed. In each era, album anticipation, or single release of his, Breezy delivers competently.
And with such remarkable dedication to reinventing himself throughout the years, I was waiting as a devoted fan for Brown to produce an album as exceptional as Graffiti and Fortune. Seeing that, those were his most cohesive R&B projects in my view. Those albums apprised Chris Brown’s soul through each offering, unleashing a side of him that reminded the listeners why they fell in love with his artistry.
11:11 is as good as expected – Chris Brown lives up to the hype. On this album, or at least half of it, the singer retrocedes to his true essence. Songs like “Messed Up,” the intro “Angel Numbers/Ten Toes,” or “No One Else” with Maeta unlocks emotions that only a good “singy-sing” type of R&B album evokes.
It should not go unsaid that although the album places the listener in their “feels” feelings. Fans whom were accustomed to the “bad boy” or “sex god” music he has consistently released over these past few years, might just not process this album accordingly. 11:11 will resonate more with his core fanbase that have been present from the beginning.
In contrary though, from track 12, “Midnight Freak,” there is sudden transition to a darker theme. The “bad boy” sound fans yearn materializes, in a matured way. Chris Brown executes explicit songs that follow next in a way that doesn’t overpower the album.
Particularly by looking closely at songs like “Moonlight” where he employs celestial imagination to describe the innumerable sexual places he wants to take this woman, with lyrics like, “Feel your raindrops falling down / let’s make love on a cloud / it’s simple, we’ll go where the wind blows / and your spernova lost control / wanna elevate your high”.
Comparably, “Summer Too Hot” is another illustration of Brown’s prowess to vividly construct the verses, then wholly shift to a fantastical libretto on the chorus. As a listener, it’s a gratifying experience absorbing all the play on words, rhyme schemes on each second line of the chorus, and of course the change in his tonality. It’s no wonder “Summer Too Hot” was Chris Brown’s choice for an authentic bouncy summer anthem.
Listening to 11:11 confirmed a lot for me as a critic and fan of Breezy. His lack of deviation for continually working with young creatives, collaborating with upcoming songwriters – works for him in maintaining his youthfulness through his craft. Furthermore, 11 albums into your 18 year long career, and still remaining a favourite amongst all age-groups is no small feat.
11:11 is a full-circle moment of his entire career. Chris Brown is at a juncture where he is connecting to his art in a new and powerful manner. The album may have scored mixed reviews amongst my peers, to me however, it’s in my top 5 of albums released this year alone. Hats off to your rebirth, Chris!
Chris Brown’s 11:11 album was released on November 10 via CBE and RCA Records. Listen to it below, and stream it everywhere else here.
Words by Ruby Adele