Akon believes that Chris Brown’s alleged affiliation with street gangs has kept him from reaching the same heights that Michael Jackson once did at the peak of his own career. During a recent appearance on Shannon Sharpe’s Club Shay Shay podcast, the Senegalese crooner gave his reasoning behind his take.
“In this day and age, the only person, in my opinion, that could’ve achieved just as great of a legacy as [Michael Jackson] would’ve been Chris Brown,” Akon told Sharpe. “I just believe that Chris Brown wasn’t surrounded by the circle of creative people that Mike was surrounded by. Because Chris got the talent, he just needed the direction.”
The 49-year-old continued, adding, “So, imagine if Chris had Mike’s team. Just imagine that. But Chris, he got Bloods around him. He got little gangbangers around him. He don’t have the guidance. He’s smart, but he’s smart in what this generation attracts.”
While the “Locked Up” creator feels Brown, 33, could still make good on that promise and “has the opportunity” to be the greatest entertainer of all, Sharpe thinks that door has closed for good.
“It’s too late now,” the former NFL star said of Brown’s prospects of selling 100 million albums is slim to none at this point in time. However, Sharpe points out that Brown is doing well for himself regardless of those missed opportunities, noting his massive streaming numbers and bankability.
Brown has been rumored to be affiliated with the Bloods gang for years. In 2016, the rapper lashed out at entertainers claiming to be members of gangs in a post on social media. That same year, Brown was hit with a lawsuit by Suge Knight following a shooting at 1 OAK in L.A., with the rap mogul claiming the Breezy rapper’s affiliation with gangs led to the incident.
However, Brown has denied his affiliation with gangs on several occasions, including during an interview with Sway Calloway on MTV.
“When you’re in LA and you’re around people, you meet everybody,” Brown said at the time. “You meet Crips, you meet Bloods, especially in this industry that I’m in. I’m not in the country world, I’m not in the all-the-way pop world, you’re in Hip-Hop. So Hip-Hop and R&B, all of that kind of meshes together, especially when you’re in these events or in these places where everybody can be there. I’m cordial at the end of the day. It’s never no disrespect, but it’s cordial.”
Brown has voiced his admiration for Michael Jackson as recently as earlier this year and credited the King of Pop for influencing his own artistry. He has also shied away from the notion that he’s a better performer or artist than MJ, calling those claims “cap.”
“I stay the hell up out of it… I kind of back off it,” he says of his name being mentioned alongside Jackson’s. “My personal take on it is I wouldn’t even be breathing or even being able to sing a song if that man didn’t exist. So I don’t know if they look at it as the Jordan/Kobe thing, but I can’t even look at it…he’s light years ahead…There is no competing with him…Hell no. I got shrines of this man hanging up in my house. Hell nah, I ain’t better than Michael Jackson.”