The VIBE Cover Story: Chris Brown

The Passion of Chris

Mr. Brown Is The Future. But FIrst He Must Deal With His Past

By: Erik Parker

This is the first interview Chris Brown has done with VIBE since “it” happened. When he says “it,” Brown’s referring to what he calls his “situation with Shorty.” In this case, “Shorty” would be his pop star ex-girlfriend Rihanna. The “situation?” That’s the Grammy night beating, for which he pled guilty to one count of assault with the intent of doing great bodily injury in June 2009, resulting in 180 days of “labor oriented” service, five years of probation, domestic abuse counseling and a “stay away” order that prohibits him from being within 50 feet of Rihanna.

“It” inspired a national conversation about domestic abuse that divided the country into two factions: pro-Rihanna or anti-Chris. “It” caused radio stations to ban his records, brands to cancel his endorsements and one award show to drop his set. “It” turned friends into foes, fans into critics. “It” even gave voice to the odd powder-blue bow tie that he wore on CNN’s Larry King Live (as highlighted on While talking to Brown one afternoon at his Richmond, VA dance studio, it becomes clear that his life was severely affected by “it.”

VIBE: Can you think of anything positive that came from the incident with Rihanna?
CHRIS BROWN: The good that came from it was making me realize I wasn’t invincible. It humbled me to take my career and my life a lot more seriously as well as have more respect for women and my fans. I let a lot of people down. I really need to step it up and be more of an adult. I’ve done some childish things.

You said Will Smith called you to offer support. How did that phone conversation go?
Me and him met at certain events but it never was on some, “What’s up man? We going to hang out.” But when I needed him the most, that’s when he stepped in. I was in my house in Virginia and he just called me and said he wanted to talk to me and said his family is praying for me. He basically went into his personal situations. I don’t want to give away what we was talking aboutŃjust talking about life and decisions and how choices we make affect the world. Others [reached out] like David Banner, Pharrell, Busta Rhymes, so many people that cared.

Have you spoken with Jay-Z since it all went down?

Do you plan on it?
Not really. I don’t think I need to. We’ve never been friends or close so it’s not really a thing where I have to explain myself to him or feel I need to talk to him.

He kinda got tossed into it through his association with Rihanna.
Yeah, they like drama. The media wants to make it bigger than what it was.