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Music by VICE

Why is "Loyal" the Perfect Chris Brown Song?

It's not even close to being the best Chris Brown song, but that doesn't mean it's not perfect.

by Slava Pastuk
Apr 11 2014, 2:31pm

Chris Brown released "Loyal" on December 19th, 2013. You probably weren't even aware that the song came out, because everything that happened onwards from December 13th, 2013 was eclipsed by the fact that Beyoncé pulled an album out of nowhere and left the world with thier mouths agape, unable to talk about anything else, especially a Chris Brown single. But on March 24th, 2014, the video for "Loyal" was released and suddenly the song was forced into pop music rotation and our collective zeitgeist. The video isn't anything special, it's just Chris dancing in front of bright lights while rappers and people who wish they were rappers make cameos. But as with most music videos, it forces you to listen to the song undisturbed for the entire duration of the run time, and in the four minutes that it took me to watch that video, I realized that "Loyal" is the most perfect Chris Brown song ever made.

To clarify, "perfect" isn't the same as "best." We can objectively say that "Loyal" is most definitely not the best Chris Brown song ever recorded. It's not even the best Chris Brown song on a DJ Mustard-type beat (that would be "Show Me"), or the best Chris Brown song off X (that's "Fine China"), nor is it the best Chris Brown song to feature Lil' Wayne ("Look At Me Now"). "Loyal" is the perfect Breezy song in the same way that a burrito is the perfect handheld food. Even though we can all agree that there are better options, most of which are influenced by personal preference, everyone loves burritos. Because they are perfect.

Since this song was recorded by Chris Brown, this is a good time to bring up the whole "art vs. artist" argument. Personally, it has never mattered whether the person making the art I enjoy has committed any unforgivable sins, as long as they're super-talented and amazing at what they do. It's this outlook that allows me to watch Woody Allen movies on mute while R.Kelly plays in the background, and I consume my bounty of Chick-Fil-A sandwiches while browsing the internet on my Firefox browser. Chris Brown is a terrible human being, but he's also incredibly talented. If you were to plot Chris Brown on a morality matrix, with the x-axis representing talent and the y-axis representing virtue, Breezy would be firmly placed in the bottom right corner, on the edge of the page. However, the reason why "Loyal" is the perfect Chris Brown song has more to do with the man behind it than the actual sonic composition.

At its core, "Loyal" sounds like a horribly misogynistic song, and it kinda is. It's the type of song that you feel guilty for singing along to, and even guiltier for learning all the words to so that you can sing it with your friends. Not only does Chris repeatedly say that hoes are not to be trusted, but he also puts down "broke bitches" right after he brags about how well he could help them with their financial situation. Dick move, right? Exactly. That's the beauty of this song, it's evil as shit, but you can't help but like it anyway. Just like Chris Brown.

Unlike a majority of Chris Brown's songs, "Loyal" isn't for women. Sure, it's an airy pop song that you can bust out a Nae Nae to, but that's owed more to the bouncy production and Mustard-lite workings of Nic Nac, the same man who produced another offensive but catchy song in Ray J's "I Hit It First," which means Nic Nac has produced the audio equivalent of a subtweet not once, but twice ("maybe thrice?" says Big Sean as desperately tries to find Nic Nac's contact information). But if you look past the glossy veneer of misandry, you see that the song acts as a cautionary tale for men who are foolish enough to try to pursue the same women that will run into Chris Brown at some point in their lives. Chris Brown can fuck your bitch, and he wants you to know it, if only to save you the eventual heartbreak that comes when you realize that these hoes ain't loyal.

"But money isn't important to me," say the two females who have made it this far into the article without closing the tab viciously and penning a strongly worded email to my editor. You're completely correct, but this song isn't about you, it's about hoes. With rap, in short, a "hoe" is every woman, except for when it's not. Rap semantics are weird. The only word that's more flexible than "hoe" in a rapper's lexicon is "bitch," both of which are either derogatory or affectionate, depending on who's saying it. But why would a hoe even want to be loyal? There's no incentive for someone who capitalizes off their looks and sexuality to not be taking advantage of a good thing while they have it, constantly climbing the rungs on the ladder of success. Today, she's smoking weed in the Bay with Chris Brown, who just paid for her breast enhancements. Tomorrow, she'll be sipping cups of oil with a Qatar royal as they hunt endangered animals on the back on golden ATVs. Dogs and henchmen are loyal because they have to be. Without you, they would die. Hoes on the other hand pledge allegiance to nobody but themselves. There's something noble in that, but it's also something that the layman wouldn't take into consideration were this song to not exist to warn him. There's probably someone out there right now trying to turn a hoe into a housewife, and " Loyal" is just trying to save that man from months of agony and heartbreak, and years of alimony payments.

Outside of Chris Brown's cautionary verses, this song has also been fortunate enough to be given four guest verses, spread across three official mixes. Lil' Wayne's appearance is the only consistent thing through all three versions, because a) duh, he's Lil' Wayne b) him and Chris make magic together c) he rhymes "flamingoes" with "trust these hoes," which is so incredibly poignant that I had to bow my head in respect when I first heard it. Tyga and French Montana's contributions are whatever, since both borrow heavily from old Jay Z songs to complete their rhymes, but it's worth noting that of all the artists mentioned in the involvement of this song thus far, Tyga is the only one who is married. To a former stripper. This just adds to my long standing belief that Tyga's rap life is such a grandiose illusion, he can't believe it. Seriously Tyga, this song was made exactly so that situations like yours could be avoided. The last guest verse appearance belongs to Too $hort, an obvious choice, since this is a man who has crafted his entire career around the disloyalty of the fairer sex. You may be wondering why this song needs so many guests. Why not just combine all of these verses into a mega remix, or just get rid of Tyga and French Montana completely? Because, fuckboi, then you would only listen to the song once and miss all of the important lessons contained within. This way, on your journey to hear all of the possible versions of the song, you'll be constantly reminded that Chris Brown, or anyone with an equal or greater amount of money, can steal your hoe with ease.

"Loyal" is the most poignant piece of art created in recent memory precisely because it doesn't try to be art. Its a pop song with a message, but not in the Lady Gaga "HEY GUYS LOOK THIS SONG HAS A MESSAGE," kind of way. It's a perfect song that could only be made by someone who is so deeply imperfect, that you take everything he's saying to heart because, hey, if this guy doesn't know hoes, who does?

Then again, this whole thing could just be a four-minute "fuck you" to Drake and Rihanna. It's Chris Brown, let's not put it past him. He's still an asshole, even if he made the perfect song.

@SlavaP ain't loyal