The once-promising recording career of disgraced singer/rapper Chris Brown is nearing an end with the news that Brown is seriously considering exiting the business once his next RCA Records studio album is finished and released. It’s unlikely that any music company would want to pick him up, even for a short term single/low risk contract, given his antics in his year-and-change throughout social media, in addition to his recurring troubles with the law.
I could probably write ten thousand words on Brown’s legal issues and asinine behavior and still feel like I’m leaving something out. Alternatively, I could just post that picture of him from the Greenhouse bottle-throwing fight in 2012 and feel satisfied that it says what needs to be said. The world is a complicated place, made up of complicated things and complicated people. Christopher Maurice Brown is a complicated person. He can be discussed in very simple terms, but he cannot be explained in anything less than a thesis, if he can be explained at all.
When Brown began his rise to the top via eye catching performances, we were excited, because the R&B genre (a dying one, even still today) was finally introducing a fresh face without anyone’s “stamp of support” (aka “Co-Sign”) or force-feeding via Reality Television. But those days are a distant memory and lets fast forward to recent times. There was the chance that Brown would hit big again. There was the chance that Brown would behave better. There was the chance. New outlooks and new-found thoughts on life can do funny things to a guy, and we were happy to give Brown an opportunity to show that he could be productive again in the entertainment world.
Ultimately, though, Brown’s been a problem just about everywhere, and in time – just as so many predicted – he became one of ours. He wasn’t a problem in quite the same way he was a problem elsewhere. Despite the blowups, he usually maintained a somewhat decent head. But there were still the usual distractions, and Brown wasn’t making up for them with his output in music. His last 2 studio releases, F.A.M.E. and Fortune, were met with largely mixed to negative reviews. If Brown were producing hit records, maybe this saga could’ve seen a different turn of events, as hit albums generally garner good behavior, but he sung himself right off the music cliff.
Fans used to argue over whether or not Chris Brown was worth the trouble back when he was fresh off the felony assault of his then-girlfriend before the 2009 Grammy Awards. Although the discussion grew tired, the central issue was a fascinating one: how much must an entertainer apologize and play kissyface to make up for sundry other negatives? How well does a guy have to perform at shows or on television to offset an unstable personality and potential problems in the industry? I don’t think the argument was ever resolved. It probably never will be. Arguments that lean on the value of intangibles are argued forever.
But we no longer have to ask ourselves whether or not Chris Brown is worth it anymore, because we have our answer. I don’t know if he was worth it four years ago or two years ago. This year, he’s not worth it. Strictly in terms of performance, he’s no different than fellow R&B singer Jeremih. Chris Brown wouldn’t be worth it if he were anybody else. Throw in the fact that he is indeed Chris Brown and it only tips the scales even further. He hasn’t been producing hits, and he’s also recently been in handcuffs more often than troubled Atlanta-based rapper Gucci Mane. Who’s to say what else might’ve happened? What indications were there that he was ever going to turn things around? Chris Brown’s a celebrity (thus stuck in his ways, as urban celebrities usually surround themselves with ‘yes’ cronies), and he hasn’t produced a noteworthy studio album in three years. He wasn’t going to turn things around.
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So now he’s nearing the finish line. Not just with the community who once touted him as a soon-to-be great. Probably the recording business. I don’t know who would bother offering Chris Brown a recording contract at this point. There just isn’t any upside.
The business will move on. The community will probably be happier. The business might’ve been okay with Brown in the mix, but I don’t think there’s any denying that people had to walk on egg shells around him, and now there’s an excitable young gunner (Miguel) in his place. Fans love young gunners. Just ask Frank Ocean before his disastrous live performances.
Brown will move on. If his career isn’t done, he’ll move on to another recording label (good luck to the person who signs off on that deal), and if his career is done, he’ll move on to life. He’s earned a lot of money in the business. Maybe getting out of music will prove to be the answer. Maybe he’ll find happiness on the sofa. Maybe he won’t. Maybe he’s already happy, with occasional fights and law breaking antics. Maybe venting some of the time allows Brown to be happy the rest of the time. How should I know? How should anybody know? I suspect we’ll hear more about his day-to-day life in five years, when some brave and ambitious journalist or green blogger writes up the Chris Brown: Remember Him?
Now that his chapter is over, I want to feel like I learned something. I want to take something out of the whole Chris Brown experience so that I can grow as a former artist, and grow as a person. But I don’t know what to take. Chris Brown is the very definition of misunderstood, in that nobody understands him. How can I learn from that which I don’t understand?
I don’t know. Maybe that’s the lesson.
Don’t let the door hit him on the back of his Air Jordans. Just hold it open, instead, for the new crop of artists who actually want to display their talents without the asinine behavior, so they can walk right in.