Chris Brown, "Royalty" (RCA)
Much of this album, which shares a name with the singer's 1-year-old daughter, finds Brown in a familiar pose: responding to those who've underestimated him or done him wrong. In the bullying "Wrist," it's anyone who thinks he can't afford anything he wants; in "Zero," it's an ex whom he gleefully informs how many nights he's spent thinking about her since they split up. There's also a humid, rather pretty slow jam with unexpected echoes of Prince and D'Angelo ("Make Love") and a coarser number in which Brown puts his needs ahead of an exhausted lover's ("Back to Sleep"). In a distinct break with modern pop-star practice, these songs don't make you want to hang out with Brown. They're not meant to persuade you that he's a good person, or even a misunderstood one, which can be hard to reconcile with the halfhearted charm offensive he's been conducting elsewhere. Yet the music carries a convincing bad-guy energy that's all the more potent for its sweet, often luscious textures.
MIkael Wood, Los Angeles Times