Producer(s): various
Label: Jive
It's often difficult transitioning from teen star to rub-'em-down R&B singer, and Chris Brown's "Exclusive" feels those growing pains. Fortunately, the balance of ballads and danceable grooves is enough to string Brown's audience from puberty to legal drinking age. "Take You Down" features frisky lyrics, as Brown croons, "It ain't my first time, but baby girl we can pretend." While the words are a bit jarring, the fantastic melody ultimately wins. "Damage," another standout ballad, displays a stripped-down, Prince-esque bop with big keys. The will.i.am-produced "Picture Perfect" showcases Brown's ability to start the party, although Stargate's "With You" leans a bit too heavily toward Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable." Lil Wayne, Kanye West, the Game and Big Boi each contribute verses to "Exclusive," though the best cameo goes to T-Pain. Even after heavy radio rotation, "Kiss Kiss" is still a gem. —Hillary Crosley

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