Chris Brown – the self-made millionaire who went from church choir to Grammy-winning R&B icon – is generally considered to be one of the biggest R&B artists of the 21st century. With a net worth thought to be around $50 million, Brown’s success is reflected in his devoted fanbase – but how did the star start out and what was his first-ever song?
Chris Brown’s first song was the single ‘Run It!’. Released in 2005, the song went on to top the Billboard Top 100 chart, making the first male artist since 1997 to have his debut single top the chart.
Astonishingly, Brown was just 16 when he released ‘Run It!’, and his ability to put his stamp down on the industry has been a prevailing aspect of his personality. But, how did Brown take the big-time by storm and where would his precocious career take him next?
The Choir Boy
Brown – who is also known in the industry as C. Sizzle and Breezy – was born in Tappahannock, Virginia, a small town on the banks of the Rappahannock River. The star was interested in music from a young age, frequently listening to iconic artists such as Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder.
In fact, Brown actually learned a lot of his dance moves from watching MJ on television!
After finding his own singing voice and excelling in the church choir, Brown’s mother encouraged him to pursue a career as a singer and contacted several local producers.
Working with a small production team from a young age, Brown then moved to New York City to further his career. Before long, he had signed with Def Jam, following a successful audition in front of household names such as Tina Davis and Antonio Reid.
With so many tracks already to his name, Brown released his debut album in 2005, making an instant impact in the R&B and hip hop communities.
In 2007, Brown released his second album ‘Exclusive’. Another phenomenal success, the album sold 294,000 copies in its first week and was likened by critics to the style of other stars such as Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, and Bobby Brown.
Following the remarkable successes of his early years, Brown made the decision to pursue a career in acting, alongside his burgeoning music career.
After making an appearance in the TV movie ‘Christmas in Washington’, Brown would knock even harder on doors of showbiz and go on to play the role of Duron in the 2007 musical drama, ‘Stomp the Yard’. Despite receiving favorable audience reviews, the movie didn’t succeed critically, with one critic saying, “the film as a whole lacks the energy of its dance numbers”.
With his first big opportunity under his belt, Brown went on to feature in movies such as ‘Takers’, ‘Into the Woods’, and ‘Think Like a Man’. Despite never taking Hollywood by storm, Brown’s acting credentials are impressive considering the music career fostered alongside it, and many of Brown’s best forays into cinema have been when he’s combined the two vocations.
As Brown approached the end of his highly successful formative years, the star’s reputation would become indelibly tainted by what happened between him and his partner at the time, Rihanna.
In 2009, a series of headlines concerning Brown’s relationship with Rihanna dominated the landscape of pop culture. It was revealed that Brown had assaulted Rihanna in an act of domestic violence.
“She hated me after that. I tried everything, she didn’t care. She just didn’t trust me after that,” he said. “From there, it just went downhill because there were too many verbal fights, physical fights as well. Mutual sides… We would fight each other. She would hit me, I would hit her and it never was OK.”
Yet, the events that took place between him and Rihanna would not go down as an isolated incident. In the years following the assault, Brown was charged-and-cleared with committing hit-and-run, charged with felony assault following a fight with a man in Washington D.C., and arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, although this was later dropped.
A Besmirched Legacy
The lasting legacy of Chris Brown is yet to be determined, but, to date, his successful career in music and cinema has been besmirched by a saga of personal issues that once led the star to start attending rehab on account of his anger management problems.
Still young and in control of his destiny, the world of showbiz waits in anticipation to see what’s still to come from Chris Brown.