Chris Brown: The Comeback Kid?
Standing in the check out of Publix, I found myself browsing through a magazine with Chris Brown on the cover, while half-listening to the conversation of the girls behind me in line. Having picked up the same magazine, they were all talking about getting tickets to Chris’s upcoming show, when one of them made a statement that caught me off-guard and captured my full attention. Putting the magazine back on the rack, she said to the others, “I don’t know what it is, but [Chris Brown] just seems WAY sexier to me since he got out of jail.” While my initial response was simply a raised eyebrow, the statement got my gears spinning about Chris’ extraordinary comeback after such a huge blow to his career.
On February 9, 2009, we can all agree that it sucked to be Chris Brown. Surrendering to police on assault charges, the media quickly went to work painting him as public enemy #1. With Wrigley’s Chewing Gum and “Got Milk” ad campaigns all being pulled, stations across the country began dropping his records from their playlists. Many predicted that this was the end of Chris’s run, but fast forward two years and Breezy is quite arguably the hottest thing in R&B. With smash hits like “Deuces”, “Look at Me Now” and “Nothing on You” dominating the airwaves, everyone from the New Boys to Big Sean is tapping Brown for collaborations. So what made this comeback possible? In my opinion, realizing his target market.
Up until his Grammy night debacle with Rhianna, Breezy maintained a squeaky clean (almost Disney-esque) image, giving him a crossover appeal that earned him a place among pop stars. But in the wake of his legal woes, I believe the commercial disappointment of his Graffiti LP signaled that much of his crossover (or shall I say fair-weather) fanbase had eroded. Though met with harsh criticism, the Graffiti LP was actually a dope project that was just released at the ENTIRELY wrong time. I’m confident that had the same material been released prior to the Grammy night incident, it would have been just as well received as previous albums. But with that not being the case, it was clearly time for a new strategy.
Though I have my reservations about artists and mixtapes, I think whoever came up with the idea for Chris Brown to do a mixtape deserves a hell of a bonus. I believe “In My Zone” breathed life back into his career for these five reasons:
- It was FREE so there were no concerns for headlines about poor sales figures.
- It was a Mixtape which gave him more creative license to try things and hop on whatever tracks he was feeling. Some of the remixes even rivaled the original records. In addition there was less concern for negative reviews as many of the mainstream media outlets which hadn’t been kind in their reviews of the Graffiti project don’t cover mixtapes.
- It exposed him to a more urban demographic that hadn’t been prone to purchasing an album from Chris Brown the pop artist.
- It was a great venue for him to part ways with his old schoolboy image, introducing much edgier content (More sexually charged lyrics, coarser language and more hip hop features).
- It was a dope-@$$ mixtape that reminded old and new fans how talented he was.
With the success of this mixtape we watched Chris Brown become the shirtless, tatted-up, bad-boy of R&B that he is today, setting up the subsequent success of his latest album F.A.M.E.
Getting back to the young lady in line at Publix, I’m assuming it’s not the wrap-sheet that she fines sexy but this new bad boy image that Breezy is sporting, but then again I could be wrong. This is Atlanta and I’ve heard much stranger things.
Post your comments below. We'll be picking the best ones to feature in the next issue of Makin' It Magazine. The number of "likes" each comment receives will be taken into consideration.