Ranking the Best Chris Brown Albums

For a generation of music fans, Chris Brown is the greatest R&B artist of their lifetime.

Don’t laugh. It’s all about perspective.

Even the biggest R&B supporters would admit that the genre has struggled with inconsistency over the past decade. Like it or not, there’s only been one consistent hitmaker during that time.

Despite constant legal troubles, inconsistent releases and more negative press than Kanye 2018, my play Cousin Chris Brown has been the mainstream face of R&B that entire period. And with his new project Indigo allegedly on the way, it doesn’t look like that’s changing anytime soon.

I’ve been as critical of the guy as anyone, and he’s (allegedly) family! But I can’t discount the mountain of hits, impeccable showmanship and underrated vocal performances.

When he’s good, he’s good.

Let’s look back at the catalog of one of R&B’s most controversial stars, ranking Breezy’s LPs from bottom to top. As always, we’re sticking with solo studio albums, so no mixtapes, EPs or that collabo album with Tyga.

Chris literally grew up in the eyes of the public. See how his music evolved on his road to stardom.

graffiti

8. Graffiti (2009)

Soul In Stereo rating: 1 star out of 5

Edd said: Was there ANY doubt which album would be bringing up the rear? “Disaster” isn’t a strong enough word to describe this one. The mish-mash of sounds – from bad EDM to lazy hip-hop – makes this LP suffer from sonic schizophrenia. Thematically, Cousin Chris dances between apologetically crawling back to estranged ex Rihanna and outright dismissing her, which I wouldn’t mind if there was something memorable here to effectively tie that story together. There’s not. Even the album cover looks like a free comic book they give out at the dentist. An absolute unredeemable mess.

Forgotten favorites: Everything here needs to be forgotten

royalty

7. Royalty (2015)

Soul In Stereo rating: 2 stars out of 5

Edd said: One common complaint you’ll see as you read this list is that Brown REALLY struggles to make cohesive albums. Royalty is a perfect example of that – it’s utterly directionless, just a jumbled collection of radio cuts that jump from one sound to the next. And what’s worse is that there’s hardly anything that stands out. Not good.

Forgotten favorites: “Zero”

heartbreak on a full moon

6. Heartbreak on a Full Moon (2017)

Soul In Stereo rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: Remember that time I reviewed three-hour long album and almost died by the time I hit track 37? The most frustrating part about Breezy’s 45-track behemoth of a LP is that there’s a GREAT album buried here, featuring some of the most solid performances we’ve heard from him in a decade. The set’s sonic diversity is also a plus. But it all gets lost among an ocean of mediocre songs. As a complete package there’s just way way way way WAY WAYYYY too much to digest here. Less is more, playa.

Forgotten favorites: “Tempo,” “Sensei,” “Heartbreak on a Full Moon”

fortune

5. Fortune (2012)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: Fortune is probably the least-discussed Breezy album, and I understand why. It often comes off like a clone of his F.A.M.E. album – same vibe, but less hits. That doesn’t mean this is a bad album though. Overall, it’s a solid collection with a couple of memorable pop tracks but gets lost among the better-known releases.

Forgotten favorites: “Bassline,” “Don’t Judge Me,” “Biggest Fan”

x

4. X (2014)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3.5  stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: Call this one X-cess – a pretty good album that wears out its welcome due to a bloated tracklist. Chris’ R&B Thug persona quickly wears thin but when he tucks away his bad-boy persona, X really starts to shine, thanks to several genuine, heartfelt cuts. X’s high-profile singles get a lot of love but it’s the album cuts that keep this one afloat.

Forgotten favorites: “Time for Love,” “Do Better,” “Autumn Leaves”

fame

3. F.A.M.E. (2011)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: Of all of my Cousin Chris’ albums, F.A.M.E. always felt like his most defining release. It’s certainly not his best – not even close – but it most accurately displays his multifaced talents. From pseudo hip-hop to traditional R&B to spastic pop, all angles are showcased and, for the most part, delivers. It’s the sound that has defined his career. There are a few flaws in his game (mostly the album’s successful but derivative Top 40 fare) but F.A.M.E. still remains home to some of Brown’s best songs.

Forgotten favorites: “No BS,” “She Ain’t You,” “Should’ve Kissed You”

exclusive

2. Exclusive (2007)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: Some young artists struggle to grow artistically after their debut hit. Not this guy. Exclusive was exactly the direction Brown needed to go, showing great maturity in both content and vocal ability. It gets a little bloated and unfocused in spots (as usual for this guy) but he easily sidesteps the threat of the sophomore jinx.

Forgotten favorites: “Hold Up,” “Damage,” “Down”

chris brown

1. Chris Brown (2005)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: Listening to this album in 2018 is like looking back at your baby pics. Such an innocent time. Cousin Chris’ debut sounds almost nothing like the superstar of today and in some ways that’s a good thing. By far his most solid and consistent release, Breezy’s debut is an effective mix of youthful R&B and energetic pop-leaning efforts. His career was still in its infancy – his vocals would get much stronger over time – but there was no doubt about it, a star was born.

Forgotten favorites: “Young Love,” “Winner,” “Say Goodbye”

What’s your favorite Breezy album? Tell us and yell at me for criticizing Heartbreak on a Full Moon in the comments.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*