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Chris Brown's abusive past and how he has remained so popular

Anish Vij

Published 
| Last updated 

Chris Brown's abusive past and how he has remained so popular

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Chris Brown sold out his entire 2023 European tour within minutes as his popularity seems to be completely unaffected by his abusive past.

14 years ago on 8 February, 2009, Brown's reputation was immediately tarnished when he physically assaulted his then girlfriend Rihanna after a pre-Grammys event.

Rihanna, then 20, was left with visible injuries to her face and was hospitalised as a result.

Brown, aged 19 at the time, plead guilty and accepted a deal of 1,400 hours of community service, five years' probation and domestic violence counselling.

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However, since the incident, Rihanna was famously pictured laughing alongside Brown at a LA Lakers game in 2012.

The pair - despite having drifted apart romantically - have remained good friends, with the 'Umbrella' singer previously admitting in a 2020 interview with Oprah that they still 'love each other'.

And most recently, fans think the ex-boyfriend congratulated RiRi on her superb Super Bowl halftime performance.

Rihanna was famously pictured laughing alongside ex-boyfriend Chris Brown at a LA Lakers game in 2012. Credit: Headlinephoto Limited / Alamy Stock Photo
Rihanna was famously pictured laughing alongside ex-boyfriend Chris Brown at a LA Lakers game in 2012. Credit: Headlinephoto Limited / Alamy Stock Photo
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Taking to his Instagram stories, Brown, now 33 and a father to three children, wrote, 'Go girl', accompanied by a red heart and prayer emoji.

So while the two superstars have moved on, why bring it up over a decade later?

Well, the R&B singer has recently reacted on Instagram after defending himself against those who still choose to talk about the incident between him and Rihanna.

“If y’all still hate me for a mistake I made as a 17-year-old (19-years-old) please kiss my whole entire a*s,” he wrote on his Instagram stories, while calling out other big names.

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“I’m f**king 33. I’m so tired of y’all running with this narrative… you weird a*s n***** are the same ones that tune in every week to see Blueface and Chrisean beat the f**k out each other in front of the world.

“But that’s ok? It’s entertainment? All y’all can suck my d**k disrespectfully.

“Where are the cancel culture with these white artists that date underage women, beat the f**k out their wives, giving bi***es aids, Oh. That’s right.. they are your buddies no more fake love from me.. stay out my way or get ran over simple as that! None of you and I mean none of you n***** can f**k wit me.”

Does the R&B star have a point? Why are people choosing to focus on a 'one-off incident' while others are not being called out in the same way?

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Brown is now a father to three children. Credit: Instagram/@chrisbrownofficial
Brown is now a father to three children. Credit: Instagram/@chrisbrownofficial

Well, it's important to note that 2009 was not the only misdemeanour he has faced.

2010: Brown was denied a visa to the UK over his assault on Rihanna.

2013: Brown was arrested for felony assault in Washington D.C., after he and his bodyguard were involved in a 'physical altercation' with two men outside a Hotel. The pair spent 36 hours in jail and the singer was ordered to stay at least 100 yards away from the man he was accused of assaulting.

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2014: Brown pleaded guilty to the assault and spent two days in jail. In that same year, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder by doctors while in rehab.

2015: Brown allegedly hit a man in Las Vegas after an alleged argument over a basketball game at the Palms Casino Resort. The alleged did not press charges.

2016: Brown was sued by his ex-manager, Michael Guirguis, who filed a lawsuit against the singer claiming he had viciously attacked him. The matter was settled out of court in 2019 after several years of litigation.

2017: Brown was ordered to stay away from ex-girlfriend Karrueche Tran after she put a five year restraining order against the singer.

2018: Brown was sued by an unidentified woman for alleged sexual assault in the singer's home during a party in 2017. She sued the singer and two others for sexual battery, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Brown's lawyer denied the allegations and in April 2020, the lawsuit was dismissed and settled out of court.

2022: Brown was sued by a woman identified as 'Jane Doe' who filed a $20 million lawsuit against him in January 2022, alleging that he drugged and raped her in December 2020 on a yacht in Miami. However, a judge later dismissed the case.

2009 was not the only misdemeanour the singer has faced. Credit: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo
2009 was not the only misdemeanour the singer has faced. Credit: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

After Tyla spoke to a number of fans, it's clear that some are able to separate his off-stage actions from his on-stage ones, as Brown supporter Cody Llewellyn, from London, said: "In regards to the allegations of Chris Brown that stem from 2009-2022 I would say are horrific to what actions he has took towards women.

"However, saying that, I do still listen to his music. I feel Chris brown as a person and Chris Brown as a music artist are two completely different scenarios.

"I am not agreeing to his actions, but if we continue to allow music to be streamed and played worldwide, knowing the allegations behind what he has done, how can we disagree when the media are still allowing his music to be broadcasted?"

She added: "I feel that everyone should have the opportunity to be able to move forward in stages of growth. I used to dance to his music as a street dancer and I don’t feel his music defines his actions.

"The situations I don’t agree with, but I feel that if Chris Brown is so bad then why do the media still allow his music to be published?"

Naina Babbar, from North Wales, argued that his actions don't make him any less of an artist, saying: "Chris Brown’s actions against women should not be ignored, and are clearly acts of terrible abusive behaviour, however, his side of the story came out later that the events about how his relationship with Rihanna was abusive both ways.

"The stigma about men being the abusive person in a relationship has affected Brown’s reputation but not taken into account all the events leading up.

"Browns action's simply do not affect his music and cannot make him less of an artist. The hate which is arguably justified should not be directed to his work in music and should not be held against him for the rest of his career."

Brown sold out his entire 2023 European tour within minutes as his popularity seems to have been unaffected by his abusive past. Credit: Abaca Press / Alamy Stock Photo
Brown sold out his entire 2023 European tour within minutes as his popularity seems to have been unaffected by his abusive past. Credit: Abaca Press / Alamy Stock Photo

Another music fan, who wished to remain anonymous, believes that fans simply don't care, adding: "Should Chris Brown still be popular? Probably not, no. Why is Chris Brown still popular? His music.

"It’s the Halo effect in full swing. You love Chris Brown and you love his music then he can do no wrong. And even if some fans think he has done wrong, they don’t really care."

Well, Adam Behr, a senior lecturer in Contemporary and Popular Music at Newcastle University, believes that the question shouldn't be why is he still so popular, rather how far has his appeal declined.

He told us: "One question we could ask is not whether he still retains a measure of popularity, but how large it is compared to previously.

"Certainly, if an artist has many millions of fans before revealing themselves as guilty of appalling behaviour, even if they shed a large number of fans, there may still be a decent sized audience remaining. So the question might be - how far has his appeal declined.

"It's less likely that, at the height of his career, other artists would have faced criticism for collaborating with him - as happens now."

Behr continued: "Another point to bear in mind is the nature of fandom, which involves a degree of personal investment. If someone follows an artist in passing, it may be easy to move on if they reveal a nasty side of themselves.

"That can be harder if there's a more personal attachment to the music - if the music speaks to you personally and there's a personal history to it.

"Ideally, of course, one would be able to separate the art from the artist and acknowledge the power of the music without making any excuses for the person."

Brown still has a loyal fan following. Credit: The Photo Access / Alamy Stock Photo
Brown still has a loyal fan following. Credit: The Photo Access / Alamy Stock Photo

Domestic abuse expert Dr Natasha Bhuyan has remained cautious on the topic and has explained just what victims can go through.

"Signs of abuse can vary and often go unrecognized by friends and family," she explained to Tyla. "Even survivors of domestic abuse themselves might not always identify when they are in an abusive relationship.

"If a person becomes withdrawn from their family and friends, this could potentially be a cause for concern. For the survivor, abuse can present in many different ways: physical, emotional, sexual, or even financial.

"Physical abuse includes any physical harm, while sexual abuse can include manipulation or coercion into sexual contact.

"Essentially, this is without a victim’s consent. Emotional abuse is an area that is more insidious, as it can range from insults to jealousy to threats. Manipulation is also a component of emotional abuse, such as the partner blaming the victim for anything bad that happens, threatening things like suicide if the victim leaves, isolating the person from their friends and family, etc."

Dr Bhuyan stressed that 'it’s important to remember that perpetrators are the only ones who can prevent abuse'.

"Survivors often feel shame or guilt, but it is not their responsibility to prevent abuse. For people who are experiencing intimate partner violence, I encourage them to reach out to their family physician, who can help connect them with additional resources specific to their situation, or any person they feel safe talking to.

"There are resources, both local and national, available to help people," she concluded.

Tyla has contacted Chris Brown's representatives for comment.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, call Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247 or visit their website here. In an emergency always dial 999.

Topics: Celebrity, Music, Sex and Relationships

Anish Vij
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