Music » Livewire

Chris Brown

With T-Pain, Brandon, Event, and Lil J. Saturday, April 22, at the House of Blues.

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R&B has a new star, and he's just a kid. Sure, his lyrics tell a different story -- involving cars, money, and women -- but Chris Brown is only 16 years old; not since the days of N*Sync have so many pre-pubescent girls had a reason to scream. His debut on Jive Records is built around songs groomed for commercial radio; they're loaded with catchy hooks and Brown's slight southern drawl. Born in the small town of Tappahannock, Virginia, he was far removed from the world of manufactured teen artists, but his work shows that you can pick up an Usher record anywhere.

At times it's clear that this is the work of an emerging artist, unsure of where he fits into the bigger picture; often beats and lyrics sound sophomoric and better left to a high-school dance. Yet glimpses of maturity appear throughout the record, if only in the company he keeps, such as the appearance of the Diplomats' Juelz Santana, who drops a verse on the club single "Run It!" Expect a line of minivans parked on Euclid -- and for every bored parent, there will be a daughter screaming the whole drive home.

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