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Musically gifted and undeniably motivated, singer-dancer Chris Brown seemed destined from a very early age to join the pantheon of his R&B idols Michael Jackson and Usher. Having topped the Billboard charts with his self-titled debut album at age 16, he followed with a second hit album, while simultaneously beginning an acting career in television and film. By the end of 2008 Brown was on top of the world, only to become a pariah overnight in the aftermath of his felony assault on then girlfriend, singer Rihanna, on Feb. 7, 2009. Sentenced to five years probation and six months of community service, Brown saw several endorsement deals vanish and his third album Graffiti (2009) flop upon release. Despite his attempts at damage control by apologizing profusely on shows like "Larry King Live" (CNN, 1985-2010), many assumed that no amount of PR, no matter how sincere, could placate disappointed fans. However, by the second half of 2010, the 21-year-old was back on the charts and appearing in the major motion picture "Takers" (2011), reshaping the question as to whether Brown could rehabilitate his damaged career from a foregone conclusion, to an open-ended question.Born Christopher Maurice Brown on...
Musically gifted and undeniably motivated, singer-dancer Chris Brown seemed destined from a very early age to join the pantheon of his R&B idols Michael Jackson and Usher. Having topped the Billboard charts with his self-titled debut album at age 16, he followed with a second hit album, while simultaneously beginning an acting career in television and film. By the end of 2008 Brown was on top of the world, only to become a pariah overnight in the aftermath of his felony assault on then girlfriend, singer Rihanna, on Feb. 7, 2009. Sentenced to five years probation and six months of community service, Brown saw several endorsement deals vanish and his third album Graffiti (2009) flop upon release. Despite his attempts at damage control by apologizing profusely on shows like "Larry King Live" (CNN, 1985-2010), many assumed that no amount of PR, no matter how sincere, could placate disappointed fans. However, by the second half of 2010, the 21-year-old was back on the charts and appearing in the major motion picture "Takers" (2011), reshaping the question as to whether Brown could rehabilitate his damaged career from a foregone conclusion, to an open-ended question.
Born Christopher Maurice Brown on May 5, 1989, in Tappahannock, VA, he was the son of Joyce Hawkins, a day care director, and Clinton Brown, a prison corrections officer. As a young boy, Brown would spend hours on end listening to his parents' soul and R&B record collection, enthralled by the of the likes of Sam Cooke and Stevie Wonder. As a youngster, Brown taught himself to sing and dance by religiously imitating his idols Michael Jackson and Usher, and it was after seeing her son perform at church and in local talent shows, that his mother began trying to land him a record deal. After a move to New York City and a deal with Def Jam records fell through in 2004, A&R executive Tina Davis became Brown's manager; it was not long before she brought him to Jive Records, the home of Britney Spears, 'N Sync, R. Kelly, Usher, and Kanye West. Immediately, the young performer was teamed with a cadre of seasoned songwriters and producers, recording dozens of songs over a period of weeks.
At the age of 16, with Jive's industry muscle behind him, Brown's first album Chris Brown (2005) debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, going on to sell over two million copies in the U.S. and three million worldwide. His first single "Run It!" topped the Billboard Hot 100. Three other singles from the album made the Top 20 - "Yo (Excuse Me Miss)," "Gimme That" and "Say Goodbye" - earning the record two Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best R&B Contemporary Album. At the 49th Grammy Awards, Brown joined Lionel Richie and Smokey Robinson for a medley of their hits and garnered the accolades of no less than the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin. His debut album went on to rack up a seemingly endless number of industry awards: three Billboard Awards, a Soul Train Award, two BET Awards, a Teen Choice Award for Choice Music Breakout Artist Male, and an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding New Artist. Over the summer of 2006, Brown also co-headlined his own tour, and in 2007 opened for R&B superstar Beyoncé Knowles in Australia.
Soon, Brown began branching out into acting with appearances on several shows, including three episodes during the final season of "The O.C." (Fox, 2003-07), in which he played against type as a high school band geek. That same year, he also appeared in the feature film "Stomp the Yard" (2007), a romantic drama set against the backdrop of a collegiate step dance competition. Brown had a bigger role alongside seasoned actors Delroy Lindo, Regina King and Mekhi Phifer in the holiday comedy "This Christmas" (2007), unsurprisingly cast as a the young man determined to pursue a career in music. Released the same month as "This Christmas," his second studio album Exclusive debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, and featured his second U.S. No. 1 single, "Kiss Kiss." Brown was also named the Top Artist of 2008 by Billboard magazine, winning scores of awards for the year, including three American Music Awards and a pair of Grammy nominations. At the age of 19, entertainer Chris Brown seemed to have it all, including the perfect girlfriend - rising R&B star, Robyn Rihanna Fenty, aka Rihanna.
On the night of Feb. 7, 2009, Brown's meteoric rise to success and the adoration of legions of young fans came crashing down around him. On their way home from a pre-Grammy party in his Lamborghini, Brown and Rihanna became embroiled in a bitter argument, purportedly begun after she discovered text messages from one of his ex-girlfriends on his cell phone. When the fight escalated, Brown resorted to violence - shoving Rihanna's head into the car window, punching, choking, and biting her before leaving her on the verge of unconsciousness, alone on the side of the road. Brown turned himself into the LAPD two days later. Booked on suspicions of making criminal threats - reportedly, Brown told Rihanna he would "kill her" when they got home - he was released on $50,000 bail. Soon photographs showing Rihanna's battered face became a ubiquitous presence on the Internet. Almost overnight, many of Brown's commercial spots were suspended, numerous radio stations dropped him from their play lists, and he found himself replaced by Justin Timberlake and Al Green for his planned appearance on the 2009 Grammy Awards - to say nothing of threats against his life within the hip-hop/rap world; a world in which Jay-Z protégé Rihanna was a beloved family member.
Following repeated public statements expressing his shame and regret, and even a brief, controversial reunion with Rihanna, Brown plead guilty to charges of felony assault in June of 2009. He was fined, sentenced to five years of probation and 180 days of community service, ordered to stay 50 yards away from Rihanna, and required to complete a year of domestic violence classes. Once the case was over and he could speak publicly, Brown made the rounds of the talk show circuit, issuing further statements of regret, in addition to relating tales that as a boy he had watched his own mother become a victim of domestic abuse - a cycle of violence in which he had sworn he would never engage. Despite his numerous mea culpas, Brown's fans were not in a forgiving mood. When his third album, Graffiti, landed in stores late in 2009, it debuted at an anemic No. 55 on the charts, with only one single, "I Can Transform Ya" struggling to climb only as far as No. 20. Adding insult to injury, in June 2010 his planned tour of the U.K. was squashed when Britain refused to give him a visa, citing that Brown was "guilty of a serious criminal offence" in the U.S.
However, contrary to the opinion of many industry insiders that his career was most likely over, the second half of 2010 offered signs of a comeback for Brown. While performing a Michael Jackson tribute at the BET Awards in June, the embattled singer began crying during "Man in the Mirror" and fell to his knees. The more cynical viewers were less than impressed, leading to another round of mocking in the press. A week later, the 21-year-old's next single "Deuces" was released, eventually making it to No. 1 on the R&B/hip-hop charts and as far as No. 14 on Billboard's Hot 100. Later that summer, Brown appeared in the feature film Takers" (2010), a crime thriller about a gang of bank robbers attempting one last heist. Brown played the youngest member or the crew, alongside Paul Walker and Hayden Christensen, with Matt Dillon in the role of a determined detective out to stop them. Although the film received mixed to poor reviews, it topped the box office during its opening weekend, making the effort - which Brown also executive produced - a moderate success. In March of 2011 - around the same time the two-year restraining order preventing contact with Rihanna lapsed - he released his fourth studio album, F.A.M.E., featuring the singles "Yeah 3X" and "Look at Me Now."
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