On Friday, Chris Brown released his ninth studio album, Indigo, a staggering 32-track record. It has been nearly two years since Brown released his last album, Heartbreak on a Full Moon. For his latest venture, he invited some of the biggest names in music to collaborate with him: Justin Bieber, Drake and Lil Wayne, to name a few.
The 30-year-old R&B singer teased the album release by dropping singles such as “No Guidance,” a collaboration with Drake, earlier this month, and “Wobble Up,” featuring Nicki Minaj and G-Eazy, in May. The album has predictably been met with praise and enthusiasm from fans, continuing Brown’s reign over the hip-hop world in spite of his damning track record of violence against women. Brown is living proof that regardless of the progress that has been made in recent years, we are far from living in a world in which rich, famous, powerful men are held accountable for their actions.
One would hope that the laundry list of unambiguously terrible things Chris Brown has done in the past would be enough, if not to stop people from listening to his music altogether, then to at least prevent influential musicians from working with him. (Among the aforementioned collaborators are also Lil Jon, Juicy J, Tyga, Trey Songz, and Grammy-winning newcomer H.E.R.) But that is, apparently, too much to ask.
Let’s take a moment to review why Chris Brown is unequivocally trash.
His 10-year-long history of problematic behavior began in 2009, when he made headlines for brutally beating up then-girlfriend Rihanna. Rihanna was hospitalized, pictures of her bruised and battered face went viral, and Brown was charged with battery, serving five years probation. Two years later, when asked about the attack on Good Morning America, he appeared to become agitated with co-anchor Robin Roberts. Following the interview, Brown experienced a fit of Hulk-like rage, storming off the set, shedding his shirt, and shattering a window in his dressing room, according to ABC News.
Rolling Stone’s comprehensive timeline of Brown’s violence lists the numerous allegations brought against the singer between 2011 and 2016, including a 2012 robbery charge in which he angrily grabbed a phone from a woman trying to take his picture, and several claims of physical assault. The list culminates with the singer’s 2016 arrest for suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly pulling a gun on a woman who showed up at his house uninvited. He posted several videos on Instagram addressing the incident, saying “when I call police for stalker people that are endangering my life, they don’t come until the next day. Then somebody make a fucked-up allegation about me, and oh yeah the whole fucking SWAT team.”
Amazingly, Brown once again proved himself to be the worst just two weeks ago (right in the midst of promoting Indigo) when he harassed his ex Karrueche Tran on Instagram. He left a series of petty comments under a photo of Tran and her current boyfriend Victor Cruz, dragging the latter’s taste in clothing. This in itself, though desperate, would not be all that concerning if it weren’t for Brown’s violent tendencies. However, Tran was granted a permanent restraining order against Brown after Tran claimed he beat her up during their relationship and repeatedly threatened to kill her once they broke up. The Instagram comments were just the latest in a string of allegedly abusive behavior.
And yet, Justin Bieber has no qualms about joining him in the recording studio. There is an implicit sense of allyship amongst Brown and the men who chose to work with him on Indigo. Bieber exemplified this dynamic when he shared a post Instagram last month referring to Brown’s abuse as “a mistake,” and comparing Brown to Tupac and Michael Jackson (who also enjoyed stratospheric fame in spite of many high-profile abuse allegations). For someone whose fan base was once—and probably still is—disproportionately made up of young girls, Bieber is sending a clear message about his priorities in choosing to work with and praise someone like Brown.
Drake’s choice to collaborate with Brown is even more puzzling. For years, the two entertainers feuded over mutual ex Rihanna. They fought at nightclubs and made digs at each other on Twitter and during performances. Not only does the unlikely collaboration seem like a betrayal to RiRi, but it also flies in the face of Drake’s faux-feminist image that he carefully crafted with the 2018 “Nice For What” video featuring Misty Copeland, Tiffany Haddish, and Tracee Ellis Ross.
Male artists: Please do better.