Who Is Chris Brown?
Born on May 5, 1989, in Tappahannock, Virginia, Chris Brown became a teen heartthrob, landing R&B and pop hits that included "Run It!," "Kiss Kiss" and "Forever." In 2009, he physically assaulted his then-girlfriend, pop/dance star Rihanna, and found his songs dropped from radio. Afterward, Brown rediscovered success on the music charts, earning a Grammy for his 2011 album, F.A.M.E., but also continued to receive attention for brushes with the law.
Singer Christopher Maurice Brown was born on May 5, 1989, in Tappahannock, Virginia. Brown is known for his smooth voice, amazing dance moves, boy-next-door charm and controversy surrounding his physical assault of former girlfriend Rihanna. Growing up in a small town of roughly 2,000 people, Brown enjoyed singing in his church choir and was inspired by such musical artists as Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. He also showed off his dance prowess by imitating the dance moves of another one of his idols, Usher.
Brown was discovered by Tina Davis, who was working for Def Jam Recordings at the time. "The first thing that hit me was his unique voice," Davis told Billboard magazine. "I thought 'This kid is a star.'" Davis eventually became his manager and helped him land a deal with Jive Records, which had developed other young acts such as Britney Spears and 'N Sync and was home to other hip-hop and R & B stars such as R. Kelly, Usher and Kanye West. At the time of deal, Brown was only 15 years old.
Brown's self-titled album was released in November 2005 and quickly found its way into the charts. Working with established producers and songwriters, he had a No. 1 hit with "Run It!," which was co-written by Scott Storch and Sean Garrett. The track also featured a guest appearance by rapper Juelz Santana. More hits followed, including "Yo (Excuse Me Miss)" and "Gimme That," which was written by Garrett and Storch. While many of the songs have a hip-hop influence, Brown's voice has a classic R&B sound. And just like many other teenagers, dating and girls figure prominently in his songs. He has sometimes been compared to Michael Jackson because of his dual talents as a singer and dancer.
The album brought Brown two Grammy Award nominations, for Best New Artist and Best R&B Contemporary Album. While he did not win, he showed the audience at the Grammy Awards just how talented he was by holding his own while performing with two R&B legends, Lionel Richie and Smokey Robinson. Brown went on to receive a number of other awards, including an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding New Artist. With a large following of young fans, it was no surprise when he won a Teen Choice Award for Choice Music Breakout Artist Male.
In 2006, Brown went out on the road for his Up Close & Personal tour. He played more than 30 concerts in cities across the country. While he enjoyed playing live, it was not without its hazards. "Once during a show, I reached out to touch these girls' hands, and they pulled me off the stage," Brown told CosmoGirl magazine.
Expanding his career as an entertainer, Brown branched out into acting. He had a small role in the box office hit Stomp in the Yard (2007), which centered around a step dance competition. The film also featured another popular R&B performer, Ne-Yo. On the small screen, Brown played against type as a high school band geek on The O.C. for several episodes.
The final months of 2007 brought a wave of new projects for Brown. He released his second album, Exclusive, in November. On this project, Brown became more hands-on behind the scenes. He helped write several tracks, including the hit single "Kiss Kiss" with T-Pain. In addition to T-Pain, Brown worked with Sean Garrett on "Wall to Wall" and will.i.am and Tank on "Picture Perfect," among others. He also came up the concepts for his music videos and served as co-director on them.
Around the same time, Brown returned to the big screen with a more substantial role in the holiday-themed dramatic comedy, This Christmas (2007). As Michael "Baby" Whitfield, he played a young man wanting to pursue a musical career despite opposition from his family. The film also featured Delroy Lindo, Loretta Devine, Regina King and Mekhi Phifer.
Domestic Abuse Scandal
In February 2009, the young performer made headlines after being arrested for allegedly assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna during an argument. "Words cannot begin to express how sorry and saddened I am over what transpired," Brown said in a statement shortly after the incident. He was charged with two felony counts related to the incident.
In June, Brown pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 180 days of community labor and five years of probation. He was also ordered to stay away from Rihanna. The following month, Brown fully acknowledged and apologized for his actions, saying in a video statement that "I have told Rihanna countless times, and I am telling you today, that I'm truly, truly sorry that I wasn't able to handle the situation both differently and better."
New Albums and Troubles
Despite the backlash from the domestic abuse scandal, Brown managed to continue to enjoy some popularity as a performer. He released the albums F.A.M.E. in 2011 and Fortune in 2012. Not long before the debut of his next effort, X (2014), Brown found himself back in trouble with the law. He was arrested on assault charges in October 2013.
In relation to the 2013 incident, Brown and his bodyguard allegedly fought with an unidentified man outside a Washington, D.C. hotel. The singer faced the possibility of serious consequences for the altercation, as he was still on probation for his 2009 assault on Rihanna. After being released in October, Brown voluntarily joined a rehabilitation center; however, he was quickly removed after throwing a rock at his mother's car following a session.
In November 2013, Brown's probation was revoked, but he avoided a prison sentence, instead being required to attend a 90-day court-ordered stint at a rehabilitation center in Malibu. Probation officials initially praised the singer for his behavior at the center, but after he finished the 90-day period in February he was ordered to stay in rehab until the next hearing for the Washington assault, scheduled for April 23. Before making it to the next hearing, Brown was removed from the center and taken into custody on March 14, 2014, for violating his probation. Counselors at the facility said that Brown remarked he was "good at using guns and knives," a comment that worried officials.
In April 2014, Brown returned to court in Washington, D.C. During this hearing, he learned that the start of his trial was being delayed for several months. A Los Angeles judge also denied Brown's request to be released from custody around this same time. That May, Brown returned to court in California and admitted to violating his probation for the 2009 assault on Rihanna. The judge gave Brown a year in jail, but he ended up being released in early June. He had received credit for his time in rehab and for days previously spent in prison. The singer was delighted to receive his freedom, tweeting "thank you GOD" and "Humbled and Blessed."
Brown's past legal woes looked like they would impact his career in 2015. He was told by Australian officials in September that he might be denied entrance into that country because of his conviction on domestic violence charges. Brown ultimately had to cancel his planned tour of Australia and New Zealand, scheduled for December.
On Halloween 2017, Brown unveiled an ambitious new project by making his latest album, Heartbreak on a Full Moon, available for streaming on Spotify. The 45-track album, clocking in at some 2 hours and 40 minutes from start to finish, featured collaborations with such artists and Future, Usher and R. Kelly.
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