What is there to say on this subject that hasn't been said before? Chris Brown continues to be a chart-topping success despite his ever-growing list of unacceptable behavior which includes numerous incidents of assault and at least one serious domestic abuse case. His appearance on the new track,“Do You Mind” (which is basically a roll call of current rap heavy hitters including Nicki Minaj, August Alsina, Jeremih, Future, and Rick Ross) has many raising their eyebrows.
Brown repeatedly proves that he has not learned from his mistakes in any way by continuing to repeat them – yet despite his lack of growth he keeps getting work from people who would indubitably be on the right side of history for refusing to collaborate with him. What gives?
Does it even need to be stated that Brown is an immense talent? That his dancing, singing, and rapping consitently place him far ahead of most other rappers in the game? We all know this! And it's undeniable that most artists, labels, and festivals would want to embrace such expertise. Sure. But his repeated successes force many to ask where a line can be drawn: what is acceptable behavior for such a ubiquitous artist? It's easy to take the moral high ground – that is, until one of his songs actually comes on the radio or at a club.
In a way, Brown's repeated infractions (legal, moral, or otherwise) only end up increasing his desirability. I've semi-reluctantly found myself even embracing his newer tracks as a kind of obnoxious and detestable post-ironic nihilistic gesture – only someone so evil can make music this hot. With every tabloid headline he generates, his intruige as a monster seems to make him even more alluring. What a mess.
When I wrote about Azealia Banks shortly after the debut of her latest EP, Slay-Z, I suggested that by judging an artist based on their moral character or worth as a progressive icon often leads to people missing actually impressive artwork. Bad people sometimes make good art. Not all entertainers have to be role models. I still stand by these claims, but with someone like Chris Brown, who repeatedly engages in atrocious and appalling behavior that actively endangers others' lives, this argument is harder to make. Yes, the music he makes is still great. But why do other artists constantly want to make it with him? Are they somehow complicit in his violence? Should he really be facing zero professional consequences for being a violent criminal?
I can't offer an answer, and I'm unwilling to outright condemn or claim righteous superiority over Breezy's posse for their continued support of the rap game enfent terrible. That being said, it's also wrong to completely give passes to the entertainment industry for continuously allowing creators with deplorable pasts to amass immense profits through their often irredeemable art. No wonder the internet loves the word “problematic” so much: it allows people to simultaneously find fault with people but continue to embrace their work – which seems to be exactly what everyone is doing with Brown.