Billboard - "Topically and sonically, the best offering is 'Proof.' It's a slow-winding tornado where he struggles to mend a relationship mangled by lies and insecurity."
Audio Mixer: Jaycen Joshua.
Photographer: Francesco Carrozzini.
In June 2015, once the Tyga collaboration Fan of a Fan: The Album had run its course, Chris Brown released the first single from his seventh proper album. Woozy ballad "Liquor," with its hook of "All I wanna do is drink and fuck, drink, drink, and fuck," was not atypical for him. The title and cover of its parent album, however, once publicized, seemed to signal a potential shift farther away from the carousing and belligerence that have dominated his work since Exclusive. Named after his daughter, and with an endearing portrait that features her on the front, Royalty nonetheless is designed more to please Brown's devout fans than illustrate growth. It begins with a song titled "Back to Sleep," a lullaby of sorts, but it's definitely not for his daughter. Brown doubles down on his swashbuckling persona, boasting "I'm a champagne-pourin' n*gga, I like big asses and tits" and "You know I don't love 'em, and you know I don't cuff 'em," and imploring "Can I stick it in a little bit/Don't be shy, just a little bit." Second single "Zero," a disco-funk throwback replete with talkbox, is as spiteful as anything else in the Chris Brown catalog, where the singer scoffs, "You think I'm thinkin' 'bout your ass?" With rare exception, Brown keeps it explicit, focused on flaunting. Some of the slow jams, like the Keith Sweat-referencing "Who's Gonna (Nobody)" and Jodeci-referencing "Proof," are built on slinking productions that rate with the best of mid-2010s pop-R&B. ~ Andy Kellman