Christopher Maurice "Chris" Brown (born May 5, 1989) is an American recording artist, dancer and actor. Born in Tappahannock, Virginia, he taught himself to sing and dance at a young age and was involved in his church choir and several local talent shows. Having signed with Jive Records in 2004, Brown released his self-titled debut studio album the following year. It peaked at number two on the US Billboard 200 and was later certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). With his first single "Run It!" peaking atop the US Billboard Hot 100, Brown became the first male artist as a lead since Diddy in 1997 to have his debut single top the chart. His second album Exclusive (2007) spawned his second Hot 100 number one "Kiss Kiss", in addition to "With You" and "Forever". The album was also certified double platinum by the RIAA.
In 2009, Brown received much media attention after pleading guilty to felony assault of his then-girlfriend, singer Rihanna; he was sentenced to five years of probation and six months of community service. His third album Graffiti was released later that year, and included the top-twenty single "I Can Transform Ya". Brown's fourth album F.A.M.E. (2011) became his first to top the Billboard 200; it spawned hit singles "Yeah 3x", "Look at Me Now", and "Beautiful People". F.A.M.E. earned Brown his first Grammy Award for Best R&B Album at the 54th Grammy Awards. His fifth album Fortune was released in 2012. However, after the release of Exclusive, Brown's albums have not been well received by music critics, with the exception of X, which received a normalized rating of 63. Brown's seventh studio album Royalty is set for a late 2015 release.
Apart from his work in the music industry, Brown has pursued an acting career. In 2007, he made his on-screen feature film debut in Stomp the Yard, and appeared as a guest on the television series The O.C.. Other films Brown has appeared in, include This Christmas (2007), Takers (2010), Think Like a Man (2012), and Battle of the Year (2013). Throughout his career, Brown has won numerous awards, including two NAACP Image Awards, three American Music Awards and fourtheen BET Awards.
Christopher Maurice Brown was born on May 5, 1989, in the small town of Tappahannock, Virginia, to Joyce Hawkins, a former day care center director, and Clinton Brown, a corrections officer at a local prison. He has an older sister, Lytrell Bundy, who works in a bank. Music was always present in Brown's life beginning in his childhood. He would listen to soul albums that his parents owned, and eventually began to show interest in the hip-hop scene. He is African American, and has also said that he has Pamunkey Native American ancestry.
Brown taught himself to sing and dance at a young age and often cites Michael Jackson as his inspiration. He began to perform in his church choir and in several local talent shows. When he mimicked an Usher performance of "My Way", his mother recognized his vocal talent, and they began to look for the opportunity of a record deal. At the same time, Brown was going through personal issues. His parents had divorced, and his mother's boyfriend terrified him by subjecting her to domestic violence.
2002–2004: Career beginnings
At age 13, Brown was discovered by Hitmission Records, a local production team that visited his father's gas station while searching for new talent. Hitmission's Lamont Fleming provided voice coaching for Brown, and the team helped to arrange a demo package and approached contacts in New York to seek a record deal. Tina Davis, senior A&R executive at Def Jam Recordings, was impressed when Brown auditioned in her New York office, and she immediately took him to meet the former president of the Island Def Jam Music Group, Antonio "L.A." Reid, who offered to sign him that day. "I knew that Chris had real talent," says Davis. "I just knew I wanted to be part of it."
The negotiations with Def Jam continued for two months, and Davis then lost her job due to a corporate merger. Brown asked her to be his manager, and once Davis accepted, she promoted the singer to labels such as Jive Records, J-Records and Warner Bros. Records. According to Mark Pitts in an interview with HitQuarters, Davis presented Brown with a video recording, and Pitts' reaction was: "I saw the potential ... I didn't love all the records, but I loved his voice. It wasn't a problem because I knew that he could sing, and I knew how to make records." Brown ultimately chose Jive due to its successful work with then-young acts such as Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. Brown stated, "I picked Jive because they had the best success with younger artists in the pop market, [...] I knew I was going to capture my African American audience, but Jive had a lot of strength in the pop area as well as longevity in careers." Brown attended Essex High School in Virginia until early 2005, when he moved to New York to pursue his music career.
2005–06: Chris Brown and acting debut
After being signed to Jive Records in 2004, Brown began recording his self-titled debut studio album in February 2005. By May, there were 50 songs already recorded, 14 of which were picked to the final track listing. The singer worked with several producers and songwriters—Scott Storch, Cool & Dre and Jazze Pha among them—commenting that they "really believed in [him]". Brown also made some input on the album, receiving co-writing credits of five tracks. "I write about the things that 16 year olds go through every day," says Brown. "Like you just got in trouble for sneaking your girl into the house, or you can't drive, so you steal a car or something." The whole album took less than eight weeks to produce.
Released on November 29, 2005, the self-titled Chris Brown album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 with first week sales of 154,000 copies. Chris Brown was a relative commercial success with the time; selling over two million copies in the United States—where it was certified two times platinum by the RIAA—and three million copies worldwide. The album's lead single, "Run It!", made Brown the first male act (since Montell Jordan in 1995) to have his debut single to reach the summit of the Billboard Hot 100—later remaining for four additionally weeks. Three of the other singles—"Yo (Excuse Me Miss)," "Gimme That" and "Say Goodbye"—peaked within the top twenty at the same chart.
On June 13, 2006, Brown released a DVD entitled Chris Brown's Journey, which shows footage of him traveling in England and Japan, getting ready for his first visit to the Grammy Awards, behind the scenes of his music videos and bloopers. On August 17, 2006, to further promote the album, Brown began his major co-headlining tour, The Up Close and Personal Tour. Due to the tour, production for his next album was pushed back two months. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital received $10,000 in ticket proceeds from Brown's 2006 "Up Close & Personal" tour. Brown has made appearances on UPN's One on One and The N's Brandon T. Jackson Show on its pilot episode.
In January 2007, Brown landed a small role as a band geek in the fourth season of the American television series The O.C.. Brown then made his film debut in Stomp the Yard, alongside Ne-Yo, Meagan Good and Columbus Short on January 12, 2007. In April 2007, Brown was the opening act for Beyoncé Knowles, on the Australian leg of her The Beyoncé Experience tour. On July 9, 2007, Brown was featured in an episode of MTV's My Super Sweet 16 (for the event, it was retitled: Chris Brown: My Super 18) celebrating his eighteenth birthday in New York City.
In November 2007, Brown starred as video host for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital's Math-A-Thon program, to show his support by encouraging students to use their math skills to help children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. Shortly after ending his summer tour with Ne-Yo, Brown quickly began production for his second studio album, Exclusive, which was released in the United States on November 6, 2007. The album debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 294,000 copies in its first week, and received generally positive reviews from music critics.
As of March 23, 2011, it has sold over 1.9 million copies in the United States. The album's lead single, "Wall to Wall", peaked at number 79 on US Billboard Hot 100 chart, and number 22 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. "Kiss Kiss", featuring and produced by T-Pain, was released as the album's second single. It reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, and became Brown's second number one single following "Run It!" in 2005. "With You", a song produced by Stargate, was released as the third single from Exclusive, and reached number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
On November 21, 2007, Brown appeared in This Christmas, a family drama starring Regina King. To further support the album Exclusive, Brown embarked on his The Exclusive Holiday Tour, visiting over thirty venues in United States. The tour began in Cincinnati, Ohio, on December 6, 2007, and concluded on February 9, 2008, in Honolulu, Hawaii. In March 2008, Brown was featured on Jordin Sparks' single "No Air", which peaked at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.He also made a guest appearance on Ludacris' single "What Them Girls Like" alongside Sean Garrett. The song peaked at number 17 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and number eight on the US Hot Rap Songs chart. Brown re-released Exclusive on June 3, 2008, as a deluxe edition, renamed Exclusive: The Forever Edition, seven months after the release of the original version. The re-released version featured four new tracks, including the single "Forever", which reached number two on Billboard Hot 100. In August 2008, Brown guest-starred on Disney's The Suite Life of Zack & Cody as himself. In October 2008, he was featured on T-Pain's single "Freeze", from his third studio album Thr33 Ringz. Towards the end of 2008, Brown was named Artist of the Year by Billboard magazine
Image and personal life
Success and comparison to other artists
In addition to his solo commercial success, Brown has been featured on several hits such as "No Air", a duet with singer Jordin Sparks, "Shortie like Mine" with the rapper Bow Wow and "Shawty Get Loose" alongside Lil Mama and T-Pain. The songs have peaked at number three, number nine and number ten on the US Billboard Hot 100 respectively. Due to his dance routines, Brown has been compared to R&B artists Usher and Michael Jackson and has cited them as a large influence on his music.
Domestic violence case
At around 12:30 a.m. (PST) on February 8, 2009, Brown and his then-girlfriend, recording artist Rihanna, had an argument which escalated into physical violence, leaving Rihanna with visible facial injuries which required hospitalization. Brown turned himself in to the Los Angeles Police Department's Wilshire station at 6:30 p.m. (PST) and was booked under suspicion of making criminal threats. The police report did not name the female in the incident as is policy, but media sources soon revealed that the victim was Rihanna. Following Brown's arrest, several commercial ads featuring him were suspended, his music was withdrawn from multiple radio stations, and he withdrew from public appearances, including one at the 2009 Grammy Awards, where he was replaced by Justin Timberlake and Al Green. Brown hired a crisis management team and released a statement saying, "Words cannot begin to express how sorry and saddened I am over what transpired."
On March 5, 2009, Brown was charged with felony assault and making criminal threats. He was arraigned on April 6, 2009, and pleaded not guilty to one count of assault and one count of making criminal threats. On June 22, 2009, Brown pleaded guilty to a felony and accepted a plea deal of community labor, five years' formal probation, and domestic violence counseling. Several organizations against domestic violence criticized the plea deal, advocating the punishment was not severe enough for the crime; the level of Brown's influence over youth also came under scrutiny. On July 20, 2009, Brown released a two-minute video on his official YouTube page apologizing to fans and Rihanna for the assault, expressing the incident as his "deepest regret" and saying that he has repeatedly apologized to Rihanna and "accepts full responsibility".
In the video, Brown said he wanted to speak out earlier about the case but was advised by his attorney not to until the legal ramifications were settled. The video was removed, but is still available online. On August 25, Brown was sentenced to five years of probation, one year of domestic violence counseling, and six months of community service; the judge retained a five-year restraining order on Brown, which requires him to remain 50 yards away from Rihanna, 10 yards at public events. According to Andy Kellman of Allmusic, "A fairly substantial backlash resulted in Brown's songs being pulled from rotation on several radio stations. Ultimately, however, it had little bearing on the progress of his music and acting careers."
On September 2, 2009, Brown spoke about the domestic violence case in a pre-recorded Larry King Live interview, his first public interview about the matter. He was accompanied to the interview by his mother, Joyce Hawkins, and attorney Mark Geragos, as he discussed growing up in a household with his mother being repeatedly assaulted by his stepfather. Brown said of hearing details of his assault of Rihanna, "I'm in shock, because, first of all, that's not who I am as a person, and that's not who I promise I want to be." Brown's mother said Brown "has never, ever been a violent person, ever" and that she does not believe in the cycle of violence. Brown said that it is "tough" for him to look at the famous photograph released of Rihanna's battered face, which may be the one image to haunt and define him forever, and that he still loved her.
"I'm pretty sure we can always be friends," said Brown, "and I don't know about our relationship, but I just know definitely that we ended as friends." He stated he did not feel that his career was over, and described his relationship with Rihanna as having been like Romeo and Juliet, blaming the media attention in the aftermath of the assault for driving them apart. When asked if he had any memory of assaulting Rihanna, he said that he did not, but realized that it occurred, and was sorry for his actions. However, following criticism of saying he did not remember, he later said in a statement, "Of course I remember what happened. Several times during the interview, my mother said that I came to her right afterwards and told her everything." Brown said despite this, "[that night] was and still is a blur".
In June 2010, Brown's application for a visa to enter the UK was refused on the grounds of him "being guilty of a serious criminal offence" due to his assault on Rihanna. Brown had been planning to do a tour of British cities as part of a European tour but Sony stated that due to "issues surrounding his work visa" the tour was to be postponed. In February 2011, at the request of Brown's lawyer, Judge Patricia Schnegg modified with Rihanna's agreement the restraining order to a "level one order," allowing both singers to appear at awards shows together in the future.
On March 22, 2011, after his first performance of "Yeah 3x" and a contentious interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America at the Times Square Studios where he was asked about the Rihanna situation and restraining order, Brown allegedly became violent in his dressing room during a commercial break before his second performance ending that day's program, and threw an object at a window overlooking Times Square, causing damage to the window. Brown then took off his shirt and after several angry confrontations with the segment producer, other show staff and building security, left the building shirtless. Following the incident, Brown left a message on Twitter saying, "I'm so over people bring this past s**t up!! Yet we praise Charlie Sheen and other celebs for there bullshit [sic]." The comment was deleted moments later.
On July 11, 2012, Brown's community service was evaluated and he was ordered to meet a judge. The evaluation was ordered by Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg on July 10, 2012. He was scheduled to appear in court with regard to the evaluation on August 21, 2012. While conducting his community service in Virginia, however, Brown was tested positive for cannabis and appeared in court on September 25, 2012, at which time his hearing date was changed to November, to determine whether or not he had violated the terms of his court order. He reappeared in court on November 1, 2012, to ascertain whether or not he had violated his probation less than 24 hours after attending the same party as Rihanna, dressed as an Islamic terrorist. He attempted to address the court and was told by his lawyer, Mark Geragos, "I don't dance; you don't talk."
In September 2012, Brown received criticism for a new neck tattoo that appeared to be the face of a battered woman, prompting allegations that the tattoo was a depiction of Rihanna.Brown's publicist stated that the tattoo does not depict a battered woman and is instead a design derived from a Day of the Dead sugar skull.
On March 20, 2015, Brown's probation was ended formally closing the felony case emanating from the Rihanna assault which happened over six years prior.
When discussing his upbringing, Brown stated: "We were used to two pairs of shoes for a school year. We used to go to church every day. I was one of those kids that had more church clothes than school clothes." He has also discussed his second work of grace, saying that "he experienced the holy ghost while performing 'His Eye Is On The Sparrow' in church". After being released from jail on 2 June 2014, Brown wrote that he was "Humbled and Blessed" and tweeted the words "Thank you GOD.
Though they became friends in 2005, Brown's romantic relationship with Rihanna reportedly began in 2008, and ended for the first time with the aforementioned domestic violence case in 2009. In 2011, he began dating aspiring model Karrueche Tran. However, throughout 2012 there was persistent media speculation that Brown was rekindling his relationship with Rihanna,though he remained involved with Tran and under probation in the Rihanna domestic violence case. In October 2012, Brown announced that he had ended his relationship with Tran because he didn't "want to see her hurt over my friendship with Rihanna." The day after the announcement, Brown released a video entitled "The Real Chris Brown", which features images of himself, Tran, and Rihanna, as Brown wonders, "Is there such thing as loving two people? I don't know if it's possible, but I feel like that."
In January 2013, Rihanna confirmed that she and Brown had resumed their romantic relationship, stating, "When you add up the pieces from the outside, it's not the cutest puzzle in the world. You see us walking somewhere, driving somewhere, in the studio, in the club, and you think you know. But it's different now. We don't have those types of arguments anymore. We talk about shit. We value each other. We know exactly what we have now, and we don't want to lose that."
Speaking of Brown, Rihanna also said, "He's not the monster everybody thinks. 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." However, she also declared that she would walk away if Brown showed a hint of his past violent behavior towards her again. In a May 2013 interview, Brown stated that he and Rihanna had broken up again.
In March 2015, news broke that Brown was father to a baby girl named Royalty, which he confirmed on Instagram in April
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