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After the jump, check out an excerpt of the cover story, courtesy of Vibe.com
On newsstands April 21st.
“You never can believe the media, especially tabloids,” Chris Brown said firmly at Maze, a restaurant in New York City’s chic hotel The London in June 2007. Two bodyguards, a publicist, and an assistant hovered at a nearby table. Later that afternoon, Chris begged management to leave so he could roll around like a regular guy. He was going to play basketball, plotting to pick up girls. Phone calls were made to his mother, Joyce Hawkins, and to his manager, Tina Davis, who insisted that the chaperones stay. Chris had turned 18 the month before, and he was excited that Michael Jackson had just called personally to wish him Happy Birthday and to tell him what a rare blessing it was to be able to sing and dance the way Brown does.
Brown was now famous in a mainstream-pop way that recalled a select few superstars. But despite his soaring fame, he resisted the urge to see what the world was saying about him. “I don’t really look at [gossip blogs],” he said. “I go straight to the source. If I hear something, I like to hear it from the horse’s mouth.”
Back in 2007, Brown spoke presciently about a culture that was about to engulf him. Since the revelation in 2008 of his relationship with Rihanna, Brown has become a tabloid obsession. And now, in the wake of an alleged violent episode in the early morning hours of February 8, the press has gone into overdrive. The morning of the Grammy Awards, Chris Brown allegedly punched, bit, and choked Rihanna. She was left battered and bruised, her photo flashing across computer screens two short weeks later when a police shot was leaked by the gossip powerhouse TMZ.com. But how did the clean-cut Virginia-bred singer get labeled a new-school Ike Turner? “Much of what has been speculated or reported on blogs and/or reported in the media is wrong,” said Brown in a statement released February 15.
Other than that brief statement, Brown has declined to speak publicly about the incident with Rihanna as he prepares to defend himself against two felony charges in Los Angeles Superior Court. But the words from this 2007 interview now read like warning signs in the couple’s turbulent story.
“Being young,” Brown said, that day at Maze, “you always have to have a wholesome image. But I’m not perfect, nobody’s perfect. I’m just a regular guy. I don’t try to try to pretend like, Oh, I’m so nice, I’m such a God.”
He was showing off a new tattoo he’d gotten on his right hand the day after his 18th birthday: a skull with a halo over it. Davis (who would soon become a controversial figure in the singer’s life) was mad the tatt was so visible, and said it would cost sales. “And then this one, these is ninjas, darkness to light,” he said, pointing to a tattoo on his arm. “It’s about my life, me being a kid, being bad, doing the wrong things, but following my own path; darkness to light, doing my own thing. This is the demons I used to fight when I was younger— this is the angel, they just battled.”
VIBE: What are your demons?
CHRIS BROWN: My mom had a boyfriend that was abusive domestically so watching that as a kid, it used to haunt me. Not haunt—but eat at me. I used to want to really hurt the dude.
Why do you think she stayed with him?
Probably ’cause she loved him. I hated him. That was my demons I was fighting. That’s why in relationships I vow not to be that person because seeing that as a kid, you inherit what you see, so I promised myself, I’m not gonna be that dude. I’m never gonna be that person that takes the argument that far. I wouldn’t wanna put a female or child in that position, being that terrified.
Do people think you’re dating Rihanna?
Yeah, they think we dating. I don’t know why. Rihanna’s real cool; Rihanna’s a good girl, like, friend. Not a girlfriend.
How do you know her?
Both of us came out at the same time. We were on the same radio shows, so I’d see her all the time. I’m cool with her friends, she’s cool with all my dancers. Like, we just hang out. We all chill. She’s a good person, a sweet person, but me and her are just cool.
You don’t think she’s fly?
She’s fine! If I was going to date, I’d date somebody in the industry. They understand the time and effort it takes to focus on oneself, so we could understand each other and where we’re coming from. But where I’m at with my career right now, I’m just trying to be focused on that.
But you could have a girlfriend on the low, right?
That’s hard to maintain. Like, if I’mma do it, I’d rather do it all out or not at all.