When I read that Chris Brown and Ray J had released a new mixtape, Burn My Name, my immediate response was, “Have we not suffered enough already in
That’s not to say Light Ike isn’t talented, Team Breezy. That has long been established. It’s more like, “You’re Chris Brown and you’re doing a mixtape with Brandy’s brother? Why?”
Now, I find Ray J amusing on reality television. His battles with fidelity and not letting his wayward dick get in the way of his relationship with Princess Love makes great fodder for Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood. However, when it comes to Ray J as an artiste, it’s been a smooth while since he’s had a hit. Shoutout to the Neptunes and the legendary Kimberly Jones for “Wait a Minute.” Shoutout to you folks who love “I Wish.” I’ll even shout out you fans of “I Hit It First.” That song gets on my nerves, but I will acknowledge that it’s catchy whenever played. (Spoiler: I haven’t heard it played in forever.)
Still, while I know these two are friends—which explains how the two found themselves in the studio together—it’s so odd to randomly and suddenly be greeted with news that Sinbad’s former co-star has dropped a mixtape with the dude who looks like Sinbad’s son when he’s eating regularly. Yet, here we are. But since I signed up for this sadism, here is a track-by-track review.
“Fuck Them Hoes”
Of course these niggas begin their project with a song called “Fuck Them Hoes.” In the interest of fairness, I will say that the beat on this track slaps. That aside, how many songs does Brown have offering a faux apology about letting his dick slip and slide? To infinity and beyond is the answer. Then there’s Ray J, who croons in a way best described as “constipated whisper.” Perhaps “constipation” is too extreme; if so, you can say he “sings” in congestion and cigarettes.
This song ain’t it.
“Already Love Her”
This track sounds like everything we heard on the radio a few years ago, sonically. It’s not a bad track, but it sounds very familiar to a bunch of other songs. Speaking of, like “Fuck Them Hoes,” this song includes lines about codeine, ducking “hoes” and something about a Mercedes. And Ray J once again is doing that weird whisper where he sounds like his nicotine is low. What happened, beloved?
In the first few seconds of “Come Back,” I’m reminded that Ray J could sort of sing once upon a time. This is not to say that he sounds particularly great, but William Ray Norwood Jr. is trying here, which, by default, does make him sound better than he does on most of Burn My Name.
As for Christopher Maurice Brown, he may be a fuckboy, depending on the California judge you’re discussing him with, but he does make solid songs about fucking. “Come Back” sounds like every other sex song I’ve heard Brown make with this tempo, but obviously, this man is stubborn and reluctant to embrace change.
Oh, look, more melodic misogyny. “Say you love me, bitch/You lying/Give your ass to all them niggas.” Like many terrible men, Brown openly brags about screwing everyone, yet is vexed that some woman he’s smashing is just as open as he is. So much of this man’s music consists of “Who hurt you?” tunes, and this is peak Chris Brown.
“Interlude (Vince Staples)”
You don’t care.
“Cherry Red Vans”
This song features Ray J singing as if his vocal coach were a bad-ass 12-year-old whose balls haven’t completely dropped but are two lengthy bathroom trips away from doing so, “singing” the line, “My wife make a straight bitch wanna go dyke.” Return this bullshit to sender.
“New Gang,” Featuring LuvaBoy TJ and Truth KO
It’s a lot of Blood references, which I’m sure will be used in a future court case, ’cause Lord knows Brown can’t get it together. In any event, this track should be called “Overcompensation.” It should also be skipped quickly.
“Let It Bang,” Featuring Payso B, Jackie Long, Truth KO, Knotch
Ray J, weren’t you on Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood talking about selling some scooters or some shit last season? Can you go focus on that? Maybe go back to acting, which you’re fairly solid at. Also: You’re 36.
I haven’t heard the tag “Listen to this track, bitch!” in forever. Here, Brown and Ray J sing about “making another one famous.” I’d rather listen to a track of Kim Kardashian and Karrueche Tran yawning for four minutes. Speaking of, round of applause for Tran for the early success of TNT’s Claws and getting that restraining order.
“Burn My Name,” Featuring Bizzy Bone
Earlier in the month, I was reminded that Bizzy Bone is still with us after it was reported that his former fiancee was granted a restraining order against him after he allegedly physically abused and harassed her. Now he’s recording with Brown (who is now on restraining order No. 2) on the mixtape’s title track, no less. As for said track, it, along with the mixtape overall, is as good as Brown’s reputation and Ray J’s name around the Kardashian-Jenner clan.
The production on the track is cool, but this song might have been better served if it were called “Damn, I Fucked Up” or “I’m Sorry for Everything” instead of being such a poorly constructed attempt at martyrdom.
Like, why can’t Brown go meet a nice therapist and anger-management coach who helps steer him in a less misogynistic direction and then introduces him to some producers who could help him make the really classic R&B album he’s more than capable of delivering? He’s at, like, Mitch McConnell levels of stubbornness and hostility.
In sum, if you have yet to bother to check out this mixtape, do yourself a favor: Stick with that. Ray, get some vocal lessons and call the folks who gave you “One Wish.” Chris, well, you wouldn’t listen anyway, so, whatever.