He was a teen superstar, the unassailable crown prince that R&B – until he struck his girl friend Rihanna. Chris Brown talks about "that incident", his year in fury management and also why he"s got a lot much more music (and money) come make

Chris Brown: "I had to protect against acting like a small teenager, a crazy, wild young guy." click on image for full portrait. Photograph: Patrick Fraser because that the Guardian
Chris Brown: "I had to prevent acting prefer a tiny teenager, a crazy, wild young guy." click on image for full portrait. Photograph: Patrick Fraser because that the Guardian

People who hate kris Brown – and there are many – can sum him up as the bad boy the R&B, chiefly famous for beating increase Rihanna. They would certainly probably define the singer as a former teen sensation that tried to cheat his means out that his community service sentence because that the assault, two-timed Rihanna as soon as she briefly took him back, and also smashed up a TV studio dressing room just due to the fact that the referents asked about their relationship. He"s the thug through a short fuse that picked fights through A-list rappers open minded Ocean and Drake, the misogynist responsible for lyrics such as, "I supervisor soak the ho/Show "em no love/Just throw "em a towel" and the Twitter loudmouth that responded come one woman"s critical tweet through "take them teeth out as soon as u suck my penis HOE" (sic).

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Obviously, that would certainly not be exactly how Brown look at himself. An opportunity to present his variation of events has been elusive, however, due to the fact that all summer that kept having actually to postpone our meeting because of a hectic schedule of court appearances, as well as a seizure, which his physician put down to "nonstop negativity".

When we ultimately meet, at the recording studio in Los Angeles wherein he do his forthcoming album, I"m not even sure it"s him. He"s bang on time, because that a start, for this reason I assume that can"t be, and also the trademark bleached hair and neck tattoos space swaddled in a grey beanie, while most of his confront is surprise by large, gold-rimmed sunglasses. But the entourage loping follow me in his wake is right out of main casting, and once they have cleared turn off we settle on a sofa. Brown keeps his shades on, renders no eye contact and addresses his words come the mixing desk in former of us, despite less due to rudeness, I think, than the sophisticated protocol that cool.

Patrick Fraser Photograph: Patrick Fraser because that the GuardianSo much has actually been written around Brown, and so lot of it ugly, the I think, well, who can blame him because that being wary? prior to long, I begin to doubt he"s actually simply bored. He"s talking around his album, but making no sense, so I suggest us pretend I"ve just landed from Mars and know nothing around him. Right here is a clean slate: his possibility to specify himself, to define from scratch who the is and what he does. What would certainly he say? together if registering my visibility for the very first time, the pauses, practically glances across, smiles – "That"s a great question" – and considers it very closely in silence.

"Well, I would certainly say I"m one inspirational indict book. You can take my life story or scenarios or songs and also relate to them, and apply them to your daily life. Girlfriend know, even if it is it be an individual or musical, I just think I"m a walking art piece, just a sphere of creativity." to be it no for what he refers to as "the event with Rihanna", that would now be "bigger than life. Yeah." that can"t think of noþeles he"s negative at, except "just being able come relax and sleep".

What complies with for the following hour might not precisely be called a conversation. It"s no that he is fiercely personal – in fact, after ns ask as soon as he shed his virginity, he seems to warm to me – but rather just indisposed to research anything also closely. When I asking what his 14-year-old me would have thought, had actually he been shown a picture of his life today and seen all that would occur in the coming decade, Brown says, "Honestly, I probably would have laughed in ~ my clothing. Because back then our T-shirts would certainly be under by the knees, baggy jeans, possibly some Timberlands on. Ns don"t undertake baggy any more."

A many the time, his answers be affected by each other little, if any, relation to mine questions. Or perhaps he"s determined on two main points he wants to make, and also figures every little thing else is irrelevant. The an initial point he provides several times is that his new album will certainly appeal to everyone; the 2nd is the he is a changed man who"s get an impression up and calmed down. Unfortunately he"s in ~ his least meaningful when mentioning the former, and at his most contradictory on the latter. By the time I leave, all I can say v certainty is the Brown is a stranger come the concepts of modesty and consistency.

Brown to be born in 1989 in a tiny Virginia town called Tappahannock, with a population of just 2,000. His mother operated in a daycare facility, his father together a correction officer in a local prison, and they had actually one other child, his enlarge sister. When Brown to be two, he began copying Michael Jackson"s run moves, and was quickly singing in his church choir and competing in local talent shows. His parental divorced as soon as he to be seven, and before lengthy he and also his sister and also mother were living with her brand-new husband in a trailer park, where in the past he has defined lying in bed listening to his stepfather to win his mother.

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I asking him come tell me a bit about his childhood. What"s his faster memory? "I remember mine kindergarten teacher do me counting pennies and see how much go it include up to, and also then I just remember her informing my mom, "He"s a clever kid." as soon as I to be three, ns remember being at a daycare centre and having to stay in a room through a bunch of small kids mine age, however I just felt like, OK, I recognize what I"m doing, ns know just how to unlock the gate, I know just how to get out. My mom told me as a youngster I was constantly intellectual, like as much as being able to it is adapted fast and also quick. Yet I had actually a fun childhood, go to regular school."

He shed his virginity when he was eight year old, come a regional girl that was 14 or 15. Seriously? "Yeah, really. Uh-huh." that grins and chuckles. "It"s different in the country." Brown grew up with a great gang of boy cousins, and they watched so lot porn that he to be raring come go. "By the point, us were already kind the like hot to trot, you know what I"m saying? Like, girls, we weren"t afraid to talk to them; I wasn"t afraid. So, at eight, gift able to carry out it, it type of preps you because that the long run, so you have the right to be a beast at it. You can be the ideal at it." (Now 24, he doesn"t want to say how numerous women he"s slept with: "But you know exactly how Prince had a most girls back in the day? Prince was, like, the guy. I"m just that, today. Yet most ladies won"t have any type of complaints if they"ve been through me. Lock can"t yes, really complain. It"s every good.")

By 12, the knew he wanted to be a singer. "I attracted a many of catalyst from the Ginuwines, the Ushers, the Michael Jacksons, the James Browns, Sam Cooke. Ns was never afraid to take it those procedures or overcome those limits of trying come be same to those guys. I never doubted myself, and also I believed if I"m walking to perform it, I"ve just acquired to work-related hard."

And he did job-related hard, phenomenally so. Found by a record producer in ~ 13, he was signed to Jive records by 15 and also a year later on released his eponymous debut album, a smooth slice of advertisement R&B that went dual platinum and produced 4 top 10 singles. Brown invested the best part of the complying with two year on a tourism bus conducting a relentless "meet and greet" project of advancement appearances in schools and also shopping malls throughout the country. He introduced his exhilaration career, and two years later his second album, Exclusive, went dual platinum, too. Brown has a perfectly experienced voice, easy on the ear and also agile enough to straddle R&B, dance and also pop. That writes or co-writes a many his songs, can claim a cable of acting credits and also has a prodigious work-related ethic. But it"s the means he dances that marks that out, justifying any kind of comparison come Michael Jackson: he is an effortlessly fluid and inventive performer.