Chris Brown: Singing A New Tune

By Cortney Wills

Chris Brown is focused on making amends and moving beyond controversial topics, such as his relationship with ex —and likely next — girl pal Rihanna. “It’s hard not to get caught up in what people are saying and thinking but I can’t focus on that,” Brown tells JET. “In the music, I can’t be misconstrued. It’s what I’m going through, or what I’ve been through, coming out in the material. It’s real and natural. I’m focused on what I’m doing, what I’m creating, and how I’m living my life.” That said, all eyes are on the young superstar’s other ‘X’, the new album he’s prepping for a summer release. JET caught up with the singer to chat about his new songs, artists, and what fans can expect from him next.

Q: What’s the first single?
A: It’s called “Fine China”. That’s the track that broke the mold when we first started the album process. We had a chance to get into the rhythm and figure out what the basis of the album was going to be from there.

Q: Tell us about that song
A: It’s literally comparing a woman to fine china. Like the china, she is delicate and priceless and very classy. When I was working on this song in the studio, I tweeted, “Chivalry ain’t dead.” And I was talking about that song.

Q: What was your creative process like for this album?
A: We put this album together in roughly 2-3 months. Usually when I do albums it’s different because I’m constantly in the studio. I’m always creating and always writing. When I did F.A.M.E., Fortune was halfway done. It wasn’t really a process. This time has been a little bit different because we waited a little while. We gave them a little pause of time so they’re like, what’s new? What’s coming out?

Q: What makes ‘X’ unique to you?
A: We did the ‘Quincy Jones process’, and booked out a whole studio, brought writers and producers in and just built everything from scratch. I didn’t base the songs on radio relevance, we just focused on the essence of what we were trying to make. All the songs don’t follow the same pattern, various songs with multiple genres incorporated into one song.

Q: You’ve had some great collaborations in the past. Who should we expect on this album?
A: Kendrick Lamar is gonna be on “Autumn Leaves.” We’re just waiting for his verse on that one. I think this needs collaborations, just additions to help certain songs out or just make them a lot more fun. On this album, people will be able to define me and my talent and what I’m bringing. One song that may not make the album features my artist, Seven, right now, but I may get Kelly Rowland on it.

Q: So, you’re making moves behind the scenes. Tell us about that.
I have my own label, actually. I have five acts, actually and I have a whole team who works with them. I have an alternative group, a pop rock group, and a singer/songwriter named Seven and a couple others. I put all of my artists through a yearlong grooming process. I make sure everyone has the same opportunities I had. When I first got signed as a teen, I went through major artist development. Tina Davis molded me and made me what I am today and now I’ve got her on board taking care of my artists. It’s almost like a boot camp, but they love it because it conditions their minds to be ready for the big stuff that’s coming. When they come around other professionals they are prepared. They’re not scared, not intimidated; they’re personable. Seven wrote for Alicia Keys, my album, everybody. I’m trying to make a young Motown, so to speak.

Q: How do you choose what producers to work with?
A: Whoever brings a great song and great ability brings it. I don’t discriminate. I don’t think big names or status matters; the talent does. I try to get a lot of people who never had a shot to showcase their talent, and it’s about letting people live their dreams and letting them have opportunities like I did.

Q: Tell us about some of your favorites cuts on the new album.
“Lady In a Glass Dress” is a cool concept. It’s another metaphor song. The glass dress means I can see right though you. You’ve been heartbroken but you still dream of being loved. I didn’t want a lot of instruments behind the song because I really want people to focus on the lyrics. Here’s no real beat on it just chords and keys.

Q: You’ve rapped in the past on some heavy topics. Will we hear more of it?
A: I never really focused on it or pursued that topic because my subject matter was always for the ladies and love, and things like that. It was never about my previous life of having struggles as a young guy. It wouldn’t have been half as believable. Now I’m 24. I got problems, I been had problems but as far as me growing up in my teenage years around gangs and drug dealers, crazy shit growing up. I know what to talk about in my rhymes so it’s not fictitious or a story you’re hearing when I spit. It’s what I’ve been through or what I’m about, good or bad. When it comes down to rapping, it has to fit on certain records. I’m not just going to throw it at you.