Hell no, we don’t need you boo
Disclaimer: this essay is a depiction of the writer’s own thoughts, experiences and observations, and in no way reflects the opinions of the publication on which it is shared, nor does it reflect the opinions of the publication’s parent company or fellow businesses.
In case you haven’t seen it, Chlöe Bailey gained flak for featuring Chris Brown on her upcoming song How Does It Feel, which is her second single from her upcoming album, In Pieces. The singer took to Twitter to upload a teaser photo that most of her fans did not appreciate. One user writes, “We will absolutely not be streaming. Catch you next time tho.” And honestly? Mood. It’s almost as if she’s complicit in a Chris Brown renaissance.
2ND PIECE. HOW DOES IT FEEL @chrisbrown. 2/24 🫀 pic.twitter.com/fjAjW6Sk6f
— Chlöe (@ChloeBailey) February 16, 2023
In Gen Z terms, you could only try to imagine the scream I scrumpt when I saw this Tweet. Why is the beautiful, talented, magical, sweet and heavenly Chlöe Bailey standing so close to Chris Brown in the photo? Why does he have a feature in her song in the first place? Who allowed this to happen? Disbelief was the number one emotion running through me. How could this singer, whose whole brand focused on women empowerment, be so open to collaborating with someone with a long history of violence against the community she promises to uplift with her music? It just doesn’t make sense.
And then it hit me: Chris Brown has always tried to return post-Rihanna, but I’ve often ignored it for my own peace. He’s released eight albums since 2009 and collaborated with many talented individuals in the R&B and hip-hop scene. From Normani and Tinashe to Jack Harlow—it’s as if he committed something small like misdemeanors and let out loose-lipped comments. I may have turned a blind eye wherever possible. But this time around, with his social media meltdowns and copouts, I’m saying that I’m not here for the Chris Brown renaissance.
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Chris Brown’s history
The singer believes everyone keeps using his legal battles with Rihanna from age 19 (not 17, as he initially claimed) as reasons to “cancel” the singer. But other people on the internet point to his rather extensive history of violence as a reason not to support him. Chris Brown was 21 when he smashed a window after Good Morning America hosts tried to ask him about his past relationship with Rihanna. Then, at age 23, he and Blonde singer Frank Ocean got into a parking lot scuffle that involved a homophobic slur thrown at the singer. All these brushes with the law led to the formal diagnosis of PTSD and bipolar disorder, which caused his bouts of aggression.
But while Chris Brown did well for seeking the help he needed and submitting himself to the law and due process, the patterns continued well into his adulthood. There was still a visible lack of accountability for his actions. When Kehlani attempted suicide in 2016 due to cheating allegations, Brown, aged 25, took to Twitter to mock the singer and uplift Kehlani’s ex. His ex, Karreuche Tran, was granted a five-year restraining order against 28-year-old Brown after he repeatedly stalked and beat her throughout their relationship.
Chloe bailey’s management has no idea who her target audience is and that’s why they make such poor decisions and have her all over the place. The ppl who like her do not like CB
— The Neighborhood Publicist (@nhoodpublicist) February 16, 2023
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Double standards, white privilege and cancel culture
Is cancel culture real? Yes and no. Chris Brown’s recent defense of himself is a long list of white celebrities with colorful histories of violence and assault. He namedrops Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, Ozzy Osbourne and Emma Roberts as examples of a “double standard” in Hollywood and showbusiness. Why do they get to keep celebrated careers after their violent histories? Brown makes a fair point—cancel culture will not entirely take effect if the “canceled” people have power, influence, money and establishments enabling them. And knowing the industry he’s in, white people get off the hook more often than their POC (people of color) counterparts.
But it’s rich coming from Chris Brown himself. While I’m not one to jump the gun, I still feel suspicious as allegations as recent as 2021 surfaced against the singer. Props to him for exposing the preferential treatment, but it doesn’t absolve him of his sins either. Nevertheless, what happens when the system they work in doesn’t listen to us? Then our outcry might just be falling on deaf ears. The least we could do is refuse to consume their work, their art. Refuse them attention until they fall on deaf ears.
Chloe Bailey joining Normani, H.E.R, Ella Mai, Tinashe and Summer Walker at the Chris Brown Bird Association pic.twitter.com/887u3LGyqY
— mademoiselle (@mademoiselle4u) February 16, 2023
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You see, separating the art and the artist might come easily to others. But not for me. I don’t think I can stand enjoying music by someone whose history has proved him to be a dangerous individual. And if he ends up holding himself accountable, fine, but I’m never tuning in on any of his music ever.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver