On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN sat down with Chris Brown to discuss his new album (aptly titled Breezy), comparisons to Michael Jackson, former beef with Drake, and more.
Hailing from Tappahannock, Virginia, the global musician made history as the first male lead artist to have their debut single top the Billboard Hot 100 with “Run It!” in 2005. The record paved a way for his eponymous debut album later that year, followed by a number of extended plays that would position Chris Brown as one of R&B’s most highly coveted artists to grace the mic during the 2000s. His sophomore album Exclusive and third album Graffiti were both multi-platinum selling releases that debuted in the top ten of Billboard’s 200 chart.
In 2011, Brown released his fourth studio album F.A.M.E., which helmed hit songs like “Look at Me Now,” followed by his fifth album Fortune in 2012. Over the years, Chris Brown has dropped several other critically acclaimed projects and singles that rose to viral triumph, with some of his more recent being 2017’s “Privacy” and “Party,” 2019’s “Guidance” featuring Drake, and 2020’s “Go Crazy” with Young Thug.
This week, Chris Brown released his tenth studio album Breezy, which spans 23 tracks featuring Lil Durk, Blxst, Lil Wayne, Ella Mai, and several others. In preparation of the project, Brown dropped pre-release singles like “Wheels Fall Off,” the Wizkid-assisted “Call Me Every Day,” and “WE (Warm Embrace),” the last of which boasts a video starring Normani. It serves as a follow-up to his 2019 album Indigo and will be followed by a nationwide tour alongside Lil Baby.
To help give fans a recap, REVOLT compiled a list of nine facts we learned from the Chris Brown interview. Take a look at them below.
1. On people comparing him to Michael Jackson
Ahead of his full-length release Breezy, Chris Brown was recently reacquainted with comparisons to the legendary Michael Jackson, which the singer has received time and time again. Despite MJ passing away in 2009, his large fanbase adamantly disagreed and CB sided with them. During the interview, he delves into why fans compare them, saying that Michael Jackson was like “Jesus.”
“Personally, my real honest opinion: no. I feel like nobody can replace that man. He’s still the end all be all when it comes to entertainment — even subject matter in songs. He’s like Jesus to me so I feel like I could never be in his shoes,” Brown emphasizes. “I could only be inspired by him. I don’t want to imitate him because his magic is his magic. Me being able to even have that conversation, I’m flattered but I’m also honest with myself like, ‘Hell nah, you ain’t fucking better than no Michael Jackson.’ I’m Chris Brown. He’s a real impactful person and the reason I do this.”
2. On if he’d do a Verzuz against Usher
On the topic of Verzuz, Chris Brown shares that there aren’t many people he deems worthy enough to be his competition. One name that does get brought up often is Usher, to which he replies, “It gotta make more sense. I would want to celebrate him and his light as much as celebrating my stuff. I can’t act like he ain’t a pioneer as well. I think it would be something good for the fans but it would just have to make sense for both of us. I got hella songs, that’s all I’ma say.” He doubles down, stating, “It’s a lot of great talent out there but I’m nice, too.”
3. On watching Jacquees evolve as an artist over the years
Chris Brown chimes in on the topic of musicians coining themselves “the King of R&B,” which “Drink Champs” alumni Tank also mentioned in a previous interview. While he has stated that no other R&B artists could go toe-to-toe with him, he understands why other musicians claim the title. When N.O.R.E. asks him about Jacquees, whose album is titled King of R&B, CB bigs the fellow musician up and chats about witnessing his evolution over the years.
“That’s my lil’ bro, I know what he means. It’s gon’ get ‘em talking. I know that me knowing him … he’s been with me since he had braces, I’m talking about when he was having to call his mom like, ‘Can I just say here for the weekend?’” Chris Brown shares regarding the fellow singer. “It’s not a lot of motherfuckers that can get in the studio with me or with certain people and just pick up the flow. I don’t sit there and write the lyrics down and sit with it, I’m fast and my ADHD gon’ make me get it done. He was able to consistently keep up with me on a lot of songs and actually play me some stuff that he wrote,” Brown continues, sharing that he worked on material with Jacquees as well.
4. On Bow Wow being the first artist to embrace him and the history behind “Run It!”
When Juelz Santana appeared on “Drink Champs” earlier this month, he shared that he was Chris Brown’s first feature on 2005’s “Run It!” despite Bow Wow saying otherwise in the past. Brown clears the misunderstanding up, sharing that Santana was indeed the first rapper he collaborated with, although Bow Wow later appeared on Jermaine Dupri’s remix of “Run It!” and took the artist on tour after.
“He definitely was the first person who said, ‘Look, you want to get on tour? I’ma show you how to do this.’ He was not a hater, it was a lot of singers out that was kind of like, ‘I don’t fuck with him.’ Bow was the first one,” he tells N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN. “We did ‘Run It!’ at Hit Factory in Miami. I was like 14 and they was like, ‘Well, who you want to feature?’ I was like, ‘Juelz Santana’ and we had already solidified that before we even put the video out. In the months of that timing, Bow did his verse because Jermaine Dupri did the remix. It wasn’t the first, but Bow was the first to take me on tour.”
5. On signing to Jive Records as a teen and Diddy turning him down
Describing it as a “miracle,” Chris Brown explains how he signed to Jive Records at the age of fifteen after meeting his former manager and A&R executive Tina Davis. The record label dissolved in 2011, with RCA Records obtaining its roster soon after. Elsewhere, CB also recalls a time when he attempted to sign to Diddy but was ultimately turned down.
“Basically, I got heard by Tina Davis on a CD of about thirteen artists. You know how you send your demo out as a group? I was number seven on that [record] and it was one song. We sent it to Def Jam and Tina was at Def Jam,” Breezy shares. “A lot of people don’t know this but Diddy turned me down. It’s love now. I was like twelve at this time, but it was me and one of my production manager’s sons, TJ. Me and him were like a group, we ain’t have no name, I guess we thought the talent would speak for itself.”
6. On Young Thug and Gunna being locked up on RICO charges
In May, Young Thug and Gunna were among 28 people associated with YSL Records that have been charged in a 56-count indictment with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The conspiracy charge stems from an alleged incident that occurred on January 24, 2013 while an additional gang charge is connected to an alleged offense from May 12, 2018. Whilst demanding their release, Chris Brown reflects on his 2020 joint project with Young Thug, Slime & B.
“Free them, them my brothers. I can’t speak on my brothers and them cases and what they got going on. I can only be who I’ve always been — their brother for life. It’s us, never them,” he says. “They was with my real family every day. We made that mixtape and that whole album just off a vibe. It wasn’t off of ‘let’s see how the world reacts.’ We just said look, we all fuck with each other, we all family. Everybody speak the same lingo,” the singer adds.
7. On cringing at his older films and working on new movies
In addition to having amassed dozens of RIAA-certified plaques and songs that entered Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, Chris Brown has also appeared in a number of films since the mid-2000s. Notably, Brown made his acting debut in 2007’s Stomp the Yard and later appeared in movies like 2010’s Takers and 2012’s Think Like A Man. Reminiscing on some of his older works, Brown shares that some of his acting scenes are “cringe.”
“I cringe at watching shit like that now. The scene is dope as fuck but I be like, ‘Why you do that? Why you move like that? I love Takers,” he shares. “I’ve been behind the scenes developing content, like actual visual stuff like anime and different series and things I’m trying to do. Y’all gon’ see it. I just hate spilling what’s a possibility and not a fact, but this is the stuff that I’m working toward. The acting stuff is something that I want to do.” Brown also shares that when working on visuals for new music, he plays a heavy role in the editing and creative direction of it as well.
8. On why he continues to make music nearly two decades later
When speaking on why he continues to make music despite having put out ten albums in the span of his career, Chris Brown tells N.O.R.E. that he’s no longer in it for the money but rather the impact that his music has on fans. “I just never lost that hunger. I don’t care about the financial aspect. It’s a great plus to take care of my kids and family but me getting up, I’m like, ‘This song made me feel like this, or I feel this way about this song.’ I see the impact that it has on certain fans. It doesn’t have to be the mainstream fans, it could be those core people that show up,” he explains.
“The perspective of why I started doing the music kind of changed when I see it’s real motherfuckers that I might’ve overlooked because the song was where it’s at but it really moved and touched somebody,” the young icon added. Later in the interview, he talks about taking songs with substance for granted early on.
9. On putting his beef with Drake aside and their alleged 2012 nightclub altercation
As evidenced by a slew of subliminal disses aimed at each another in 2011, Drake and Chris Brown have had tension for quite some time — allegedly over their mutual love interest, Rihanna. In 2012, their beef seemingly escalated after a brawl at a New York nightclub. However, when N.O.R.E. asks CB about the altercation, Chris Brown denies the two were fighting, insisting there was “a whole bunch of extra commotion.” In 2020, Drake brought the musician out during his “Aubrey & The Three Amigos Tour,” marking the first time they performed together since 2009.
“That wasn’t even between me and him to be real, we wasn’t nowhere near each other when the shit happened. It was just a whole bunch of extra commotion, on God. It was never no ‘Hey bro, meet me outside.’ It was never that,” Brown explains. “It was just a misunderstanding on both ends. I’m not going to get into too many details, but Blood, he good though. It was funny. When we actually sat and talked about it afterward, I was like, ‘What the fuck was we doing?’”
“I think just some years went past. He actually had a show out here, he had brought me out to the show. A lot of us have mutual friends so, ‘Hey, bro, they wanna squash, they wanna talk.’ So when I got on the phone, it was cool. My thing is, I don’t have to be engulfed in that nigga world or anybody’s world and accept them for who they is. If it’s not impacting me directly, I don’t care,” he expands. “I’m glad we got past it because it was a time I wanted to kill your ass, but we got past it.”