[Editor's Note: Fuck Guilty Pleasures celebrates the over-produced, commercial, artless, lowbrow music that we believe is genuinely worthwhile. Like, among the best music ever.]
It was fall 2005, and I was sitting in an Internet café in Berlin. Juelz Santana's "There It Go (The Whistle Song)" was on, and it segued into his feature on a track with some falsetto-voiced kid singing an immediately sticky hook, "Is ya man on tha floor? If he ain't, lemme know, lemme see if you can run it, run it."
Over the next three months, Europe ran "Run It" right into the ground. I figured it was a one-hit wonder, but then I came home and Chris Brown kept coming with songs that caused me to almost hurt myself car dancing. ("Poppin'," "Kiss Kiss," anyone?)
Many people cast Chris Brown as the anti-Christ after he assaulted his former girlfriend, Rihanna. I'm not making light of abuse against women. But she's forgiven him--read her November Esquire interview; watch the cathartic new video for her song "We Found Love"--and I think it's time everybody else did, too.
Ladies love him, and not just because of his music; he told us he was a bad boy from the get go. (Anyone underage bragging, "I can definitely show you things to have you sayin' I can't be 16," is trouble, okay?) But unlike many girls who've pledged their allegiance to Brown even as his personal life unraveled, I'm not attracted to him. Not even after he twitpic'ed his impressive, ah, asset. No, my love for him stems totally from his music.
My thing for C. Breezy even has withstood his blossoming bromance with Justin Bieber. I watched the footage of the two onstage in Australia, but instead of appreciating that Bieber the brat can do a decent imitation of Busta Rhymes, I just marveled at Brown. Not only can he sing, he's perfected the Justin Timberlake trend of showing up his backup dancers.
Breezy's Captain Save-a-Song. He makes kinda creepy tunes cheerfully carefree - see that weird chorus on "Back to the Crib." He makes predictable songs surprising - see his, not Ace Hood's, sudden assertion that "You're fucking with a real freak" on "Body 2 Body." If I'm singing along to any song on the radio, it's usually because Brown's on the hook.
He makes me believe it's not just a booty call even though it clearly is just a booty call.
He's even transcended my longstanding techno ban and gained himself a few billion new guido fans with "Beautiful People."
The limits of my affection for Chris Brown were sorely tested this year, when he jacked SWV's jacking of Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" for his "She Ain't You." Within a week of MTV Jams shoving the video of CB doing his best (and it's pretty damn good) MJ in my face, however, I was devoting my full attention to it.
People were shocked by his Good Morning America "outburst" (conservative term--he shattered a window and emerged shirtless), and plenty of people clowned him for his Twitter tiff this summer with Odd Future's Frank Ocean.
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I myself chuckled at the video for "All About You," where he wanders thoughtfully through a winter wonderland and cuddles a puppy. But these violent shifts in his public persona only intrigued me, enough to fuel my barroom theory on how the R&B singer embodies the bipolar spirit of Tupac better than any current rapper.
I understand those who spit and sputter at the mere mention of Chris Brown.
I, too, have disliked some folks' music because the artist turned me off on a personal level (*cough* Kanye). But Brown is talented enough to overcome a serious scandal that landed him in court and tarred-n-feathered him in the media. You can't deny Team Breezy is back on top. Don't you be on that bullshit.
Chris Brown performs tomorrow night at Staples Center with Bow Wow, T-Pain, and Tyga. Doors open at 7 p.m.