Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
Run It, Kiss Kiss, No Air
Currently Known For:
Rapper and Record Producer
Run It, Kiss Kiss, No Air
“Follow your dreams. Just make sure to have fun, too.” Chris Brown is a highly successful and controversial singer, songwriter, rapper, dancer, actor, and record producer who first launched his career in 2004 when he signed a recording contract with Jive Records. He rose to fame the following year when he released his self-titled debut studio album, which became certified double platinum and reached the second spot on the US Billboard 200 list. The album’s hit single, “Run It,” topped the US Billboard Hot 100 list and sealed Brown’s fate as music’s newest star. Going on to release singles like “Kiss Kiss,” “With You,” “Forever,” “No Air,” and “Beautiful People” on albums like Exclusive (2007), F.A.M.E. (2011), and Fortune (2012), the 29-year-old Brown has enjoyed ongoing success as an artist over the last decade.
Amid his music career, Brown proved his talents as an actor with his feature film debut in Stomp the Yard (2007). He added in guest appearances on The O.C. and returned to film with credits in This Christmas (2007), Takers (2010), Think Like a Man (2012), and Battle of the Year (2013). However, apart from his music and acting, Brown is perhaps best known for his legal problems especially after his 2009 felony assault of his then-girlfriend, Rihanna. Pleading guilty to the charges, he was sentenced to five years’ probation and six months of community service. Needless to say, this hasn’t slowed Brown’s climb to the top as he’s sold over 100 million records and taken home numerous awards including 15 BET Awards, six Soul Train Music Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, and a coveted Grammy Award.
“My mom told me as a youngster I was always intellectual, like as far as being able to adapt fast and quick. But I had a fun childhood, went to regular school.” The son of a corrections officer and a day care center director, Christopher Maurice Brown came into this world on May 5, 1989, in Tappahannock, Virginia. From an early age, music had a special place in Brown’s life as he discovered his parent’s collection of soul albums. Before long, he showed an interest in the hip-hop scene and took inspiration from Michael Jackson.
Performing regularly with the church choir, Brown sang in several local talent shows where he often sang Usher’s “My Way.” His mother, Joyce, soon recognized his talent and worked toward getting him a record deal. While she meant well and greatly supported her son, Joyce’s personal life took a turn for the worse after she divorced Brown’s father and entered into an abusive relationship that often left her beaten and in fear for her life. This left her little time to help Brown pursue his dreams.
Despite Brown’s troubled life at home, he was discovered at the age of 13 when Hitmission Records visited his father’s gas station in Virginia to look for new talent. Brown’s father put a good word in for his son and snagged the teen his first major audition, which impressed the executives. Under the guidance of voice coach Lamont Fleming, Brown put together a demo tape that Hitmission then sent to various recording companies in New York. Tina Davis of Def Jam Records liked what she heard and invited Brown to audition in person. Once again, Brown’s performance made a lasting impression as Davis offered him a recording contract and signed on as his manager and promoter. This helped the young artist land deals with Warner Bros. Records, Jive Records, and J-Records. “I knew that Chris had real talent and I just knew I wanted to be part of it,” Davis said of Brown’s audition.
“My first album was me finding myself and my voice, finding how I sing. I was rolling with the punches because everything was new to me.” Brown was only 15 years old when he recorded his debut album, Chris Brown, in 2005. Upon its release, it spent one week at number two on the US Billboard 200 chart and generated over two million sales in the United States and over three million sales around the world. The album was certified platinum twice and the lead single, “Run It,” became the first debut single from a male artist to land on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Brown followed up with three more singles that ranked in the top 20—“Say Goodbye,” “Yo (Excuse Me Miss),” and “Gimme That.”
In 2006, Brown cashed in on his growing fame and took fans behind the scenes on the special release DVD Chris Brown’s Journey. The footage documented Brown’s travels across Japan and Europe on the 2006 Up Close & Personal Tour as well as his preparations for the Grammy Awards. It also showcased his philanthropic side as he donated $10,000 of the tour’s profits to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Following the tour, he settled back down in Los Angeles and made his acting debut as a band geek in the fourth season of The O.C. (2007). He then made his silver screen debut in Stomp the Yard (2007) and signed on to open for Beyoncé on The Beyoncé Experience tour in 2007.
After wrapping up his tour, Brown returned to the studio to release his second album, Exclusive, which debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200 chart thanks to singles like “Wall to Wall” and “Kiss Kiss.” Brown then landed a part in the 2007 family drama, This Christmas, and embarked on The Exclusive Holiday Tour to promote his latest album. By 2008, he was a staple in the music industry and was named Artist of the Year by Billboard magazine as he set to work on his next album, Graffiti. The album signaled a shift in Brown’s music as he took inspiration from icons like Prince and Michael Jackson to push his music in a new direction. “I wanted to change it up and really be different,” he said. “I don’t try to be typical urban. I want to be like how Prince, Michael, and Stevie Wonder were. They can cross over to any genre of music.”
Graffiti was a commercial success but that was overshadowed in 2009 when Brown got into legal trouble after physically assaulting his then-girlfriend, singer Rihanna. On February 8, 2009, Brown and Rihanna got into an argument that escalated into physical violence as Brown hit the singer and left her with visible facial injuries. Rihanna was hospitalized and Brown later turned himself into the Los Angeles Police Department. Following his admission, he vanished from the media and was noticeably absent at the 2009 Grammy Awards as the tabloids picked up the story and radio stations across the country pulled his music. On March 5, 2009, he was charged with felony assault and making criminal threats. Months later, on June 22, 2009, Brown pled guilty to felony assault and accepted a plea deal of five years’ probation, domestic violence counseling, and six months of community service.
Brown first spoke about the incident on Larry King Live and discussed the reality of growing up watching his stepfather physically assault his mother. He also talked about his relationship with Rihanna. “I’m pretty sure we can always be friends, and I don’t know about our relationship, but I just know definitely that we ended as friends,” Brown said. He wasn’t, however, as certain about his music career. The following year, he tried to retreat to the United Kingdom for a music tour but was denied a visa. Fast forward to 2011 and Brown became violent on the set of Good Morning America after anchor Robin Roberts asked him about the Rihanna incident. This outburst wasn’t the end of Brown’s legal troubles since he tested positive for weed during his community service and court hearing the next year.
On March 20, 2015, Brown’s formally completed his probation. Over the next two years, Brown focused on rebuilding his reputation and filmed his self-documentary, Welcome to My Life, which he released in 2017. The documentary details the abusive relationship and the night that could’ve ended Brown’s career for good. “She starts going off, she throws the phone, ‘I hate you!’ whatever, whatever, she starts hitting me, we’re in a little Lamborghini, you know she’s fighting me,” Brown said in the film. “Like I remember she tried to kick me, just like her beating sh-t, but then I really hit her. With a closed fist, like I punched her, and it busted her lip, and when I saw it I was in shock, I was like… ‘why did I hit her like that?’ So, from there she’s spitting blood in my face… it’s a real fight in the car.”
Brown recounted the fight and how he pulled the vehicle over. Rihanna pretended to throw the keys out of the door, which sent Brown over the edge. “I get out of the car and I’m looking for the keys and somebody yelled and she yells out her door, ‘Help, he’s trying to kill me.’” At that moment, the relationship was completely over. “She hated me… She didn’t care, she just didn’t trust me after that… I still love Rihanna, but I’m just going to be honest—we would fight each other, she would hit me, I would hit her, but it was never OK. It was always a point to where we talk about it like, ‘What the f—k are we doing?’”Life Today
“It’s not my job to be your role model; my job is to be your inspiration.” While the controversy with Rihanna continues to haunt Brown a decade later, he has done his best to move forward in his career. He released albums like F.A.M.E. (2011), Fortune (2012), X (2014), Royalty (2015), and Heartbreak on a Full Moon (2017). He is currently working on his ninth studio album, Indigo, which is set to release in 2019 and will feature his newest hit, “Undecided,” which he released to fans in January 2019. Apart from this, Brown also runs his own record label—CBE (Chris Brown Entertainment or Culture Beyond your Evolution)—under the Interscope Records label. Since the label was founded in 2007, Brown has signed on artists Kevin McCall, Sabrina Antoinette, Sevyn Streeter, U.G.L.Y., and Joelle James.
As for Brown’s personal life, the singer, songwriter, and rapper reunited with Rihanna in 2013, promising that the relationship was much healthier than it had been in 2009. “It’s different now,” Brown said. “We don’t have those types of arguments anymore. We talk about sh-t. We value each other. We know exactly what we have now and we don’t want to lose that.” Rihanna said something similar as she worked to clear Brown’s name. “He’s not the monster everybody thinks,” she said. “He’s a good person. He has a fantastic heart. He’s giving and loving. And he’s fun to be around. That’s what I love about him—he always makes me laugh. All I want to do is laugh, really—and I do that with him.”
That laughter and happiness were short-lived as Brown and Rihanna called it quits in May 2013. Brown rekindled the romance with his former girlfriend, Karrueche Tran; however, that relationship failed when Brown learned he had a daughter with Nia Guzman in 2015. Sadly, his legal troubles resurfaced the following year when a woman called the police to report that Brown had threatened her with a gun inside his house on August 30, 2016. Brown denied the police entry without a warrant and, upon their return with one, refused them entry in a standoff with LAPD and the SWAT team. During the standoff, Brown posted anti-police rants on Instagram. He was finally arrested and released on a $250,000 bail.
With negative publicity still following him today, Brown is currently under a five-year restraining order from Tran after she claimed that he tried to kill her. In July 2018, he was arrested for felony battery after a show in Florida and is now banned from entering Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom due to his criminal background. Regardless of the legal mess and his reputation, fans adore the 29-year-old performer with 15 BET Awards, six Soul Train Music Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, and a Grammy Award to his name.