Chris Brown’s return from scandal has had its share of triumphs and self-afflicted stumbles. Indeed, the singer, who today earned his first no. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 Charts with his buzz-heavy release F.A.M.E. (the set pushed 270,000 copies in its first week), is coming off criticism for trashing his Good Morning America dressing room following an interview in which he was asked about his legal troubles stemming from the 2009 assault of then-girlfriend Rihanna. But it seems like Brown’s hard work and talent in the recording studio is gaining positive notice from the singer’s peers.
In-demand producer and DJ Diplo, who produced Brown’s stripped-down hip-hop-fueled singled “Look At Me,” which features Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne, says he was surprised at the R&B vocalists’ confident rhyme skills.
“Chris sounds so natural to me, then I realize that I had never heard him rap before,” says Diplo, who has produced hits for M.I.A. (“Paper Airplanes”) and a string of high profile remixes, most notably for Britney Spears’ “Circus.” “When I heard it I was like, ‘Oh…he’s rapping?’ But he does it so well! He slips a little singy ‘Chris Brown’ style in there with the ‘ladies love me’ part. If you listen to ‘Look At Me Now’ it’s kind of a slowed down club record with the 808’s that we made a little break beat out of. It works.”
Diplo recalls that when he was first asked to put together the track, he was under the impression that “Look At Me Now” was not for an official release. “I knew that I was working on something for a Chris Brown record, but I thought it was for a mixtape,” he says. “When I did the beat, I gave it to one of his writers. Then Busta Rhymes got on it and I was like, ‘Okay, this is going to be a club record.’ And then when Wayne got on it ‘Look At Me Now’ became a radio record. It just took off from there.”
Just recently Diplo worked on tracks for music superstar Beyonce. He is currently on a sold-out club date tour.—Keith Murphy