Why Chris Brown’s continued success is baffling

Chris Brown attends the Topshop Topman LA flagship store opening party at Cecconi's Restaurant on Feb. 13, 2013.
Photo Courtesy of Billboard.com

Chris Brown was in the news this week after being arrested for allegedly abusing and raping a woman in Paris, and although Brown and the other men who were with him were later released with no charges pressed, it brings up an issue that still bothers me to this day.

Why has Brown continued to see such wild success in his career despite being such a controversial figure in the music industry?

Controversial might be putting it lightly, as the R&B icon has a lengthy and extensive record of his criminally violent and impulsive tendencies.

Since 2009, Brown has: been accused of assault five times (no charges pressed), been arrested and charged for assault three times, plead guilty to two of his violent charges, gotten his probation revoked due to violations twice, gotten kicked out of rehab for throwing a rock through his mother’s car window, served only one month of his one-year jail sentence and had three restraining orders filed against him.  These incidents didn’t happen a long time ago as some of Brown’s fans would have you believe. The latest restraining order filed against him was granted in June of 2018, and Brown was arrested only a month later for an outstanding out-of-county felony battery warrant.

This is a guy who on multiple occasions, showed that he is incapable of controlling himself when he gets angry and has proven that no amount of rehab, anger management or therapy will get him to change.

His latest album Heartbreak on a Full Moon came out on Oct. 31, 2017 and moved 68,000 album-equivalent units within three days, helping the album debut at no. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart and at no. 3 on the Billboard’s top 200 chart. It became Brown’s ninth consecutive top 10 album and there are signs that his latest project set to release later this year will do just as well if not better.

Why is this violent and likely dangerous criminal selling so many records?

The obvious answer is that he makes objectively good music that people want to listen to. This would be an acceptable answer if it were not for music critics universally agreeing that Brown’s music is average at best. On metacritic.com, Brown’s albums that have been released since 2007 (excluding HBOAFM) average a score of 52. Considering that the score is set on a scale of 1-100, and that a few of Brown’s contemporaries: Rihanna, Drake, Frank Ocean, Bruno Mars, The Weeknd, all average a 67 or higher, it’s pretty obvious that Brown’s music is not even on par with the top artists in R&B.

The only reasonable conclusion I can draw, is that Brown’s absurdly loyal-to-a-fault fan base is buying his music blindly, tossing aside the crimes he’s committed and ignoring the many reviews calling his music subpar. Brown’s fan base is quick to defend him whenever he pops up in the news, giving excuses like “that was so many years ago” or “you’re just jealous” or “he’s a dad now, why would he do that?” and the list goes on and on. This isn’t unheard of for a celebrity with the amount of fame Brown has, but that does not make it okay in my book.

We all have our definitions of what right and wrong is, and whether or not you believe the latest accusation against Brown is up to you. But I can’t help but feel that Brown’s history of threatening people and violent outbursts speak for itself, and that he does not deserve anyone’s blind support, especially when he keeps proving to the public he will not take responsibility for his actions.