Chris Brown, "Graffiti"

80 Billboard Rating

Although some still question whether Chris Brown can regain his career footing, his third album, "Graffiti," is a solid step in that direction. Joining forces with such production talents as Swizz Beatz, Polow Da Don, Ryan Leslie and the Runners, Brown co-wrote the majority of the album, a forward-moving fusion of R&B, pop, rock and Euro-dance. The young phenomenon still knows how to party: In addition to the synth-heavy song "I Can Transform Ya," he cuts loose on the rhythm-pumping "What I Do" (featuring Plies) and the disco-etched "Pass Out" with guest Eva Simons. Switching gears, the singer taps into his R&B/pop origins on "Sing Like Me" and "Take My Time" with Tank. Brown brings his vocal skills to the forefront as he navigates the depths of lost love and redemption on the poignant ballad "Crawl" and the revealing "Fallin Down" ("It's getting heavy/I think I'm 'bout ready to break down"). While listeners can't help but be reminded of his fall from grace, Brown also shows us on "Graffiti" that he's still a formidable talent.-Gail Mitchell

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