Separating the art from the artist

3 Mins read

I find it rather mind blowing that the public have given Chris Brown a second chance despite his history of domestic abuse.

With the release of his 45-track album Heartbreak on a Full Moon many have applauded his triumph to number one on the Billboard charts, whereas not too long ago many despised him and awaited him being shunned from the music world.

Many were unable to forgive him after the graphic image of Rihanna’s bruised face was released to the press; nor were the public able to forgive the explicit description of what Brown did to Rihanna during that fateful night.

A young Chris Brown in his element [Wikimedia Commons:Joel Telling]

We’ve all followed Chris Brown’s musical journey and initially the world fell in love with a RnB sensation who took the world by storm with his impeccable talent, from his beautiful vocals and his amazing ability to out dance his musical predecessors at the tender age of 16.

Surging on to the Billboard charts with hit singles Run It, Yo Excuse Me Miss and Poppin’ he proved himself to be on the path to legendary status, but Brown’s public image took a turn for the worst when in February 2009 it was reported that he had physically assaulted his former girlfriend, pop sensation Rihanna.

Following his arrest in 2009, his UK visa was revoked, banning him from the country which resulted in postponed tour dates; several music stations refused to play his music and commercial ads featuring Brown were also suspended which drove him away from the public eye.

Rihanna at the Battleship premiere in 2012 [Wikimedia Commons:Liam Mendes]

Despite his issues Chris remained resilient and attempted to make a comeback with is following album Fame released in 2011 which contained hits such as Yeah 3x, and She Ain’t You which was a huge hit due to the sampling of Michael Jackson’s Human Nature.

During this period in his career many fans were still debating whether they should continue supporting a man guilty of domestic abuse. Many were conflicted as they struggled to put his past behind him but his diligence and ability to bounce back was something fans admired about him and eventually he was forgiven and slowly won back the hearts of the public.

However many media outlets struggled to separate the artist from his art when in March 22, 2011 during an interview with Good Morning America‘s Robin Roberts questioned Chris on the Rihanna scandal including the restraining order against him.

Shortly after the interview, during commercial break, Chris had an outburst in his dressing room, and resorted to throwing an object at the window which overlooked Times Square, causing damage to it. He then left the premises shirtless and annoyed and stated that he was tired of people bringing up the incident.

It seems as though Brown, at the time, was walking on eggshells with the public, as any negative encounter regardless of its validity could have potentially affected his public image along with his album sales.

On a wider scale, Brown’s music sales plummeted and many felt that he would soon become a memory in the music world.

As a fan, I found it easy to separate the art from the artist, but I couldn’t help but feel a wave of guilt whenever I’d play his music and even worse when I found myself enjoying it.

I guess this guilt stems from personally knowing women who have been victims of domestic abuse, and I also felt as though it contradicted by beliefs and what I stand for.

Having said that, have you tried NOT singing along or bopping your head to Loyal, Ayo or Fine China? It’s difficult!

These songs and many others by Brown were played constantly on the radio; I’d hear them in stores, restaurants, and on people’s Snapchat stories, and the songs themselves are super catchy making them impossible to ignore.

Chris Brown Documentary

Chris Brown’s documentary is on Netflix

Nonetheless, I do not support any of his past mistakes and I do believe that he should be held accountable for his actions and as of late I have noticed that he has finally matured and seems genuinely remorseful for his actions.

Having said this, I find that with the release of his latest documentary Welcome To My Life he has definitely reentered into people’s good books, and possibly for good this time.

He gave the world an insight into his childhood trauma, including witnessing his stepfather physically abuse his mother, which may have haunted him into his adolescence.

Additionally, he also recounted the incident with Rihanna in great detail and also gave us a journey into their relationship which, to many, the revelations were shocking which resulted in many people that I knew to suddenly love him all over again.

Personally, I haven’t watched the documentary and quite frankly I have no desire to and despite the conflict I experience with regards to still listening to his music I find that it’s a lot easier now as he seems genuinely apologetic and from his latest interviews I’ve noticed he’s not as impulsive and seems to have truly changed for the better.

Only time will tell but for now I will continue to bask in his latest album Heartbreak on a Full Moon.



Featured image by Eva Rinaldi via Flickr CC

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