[EXCLUSIVE] Introducing the âNewâ Chris Brown?

Chris Brown

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kinda see my growth as a young man, not a full-grown man, but a young man.

[He says the last part, “not a full-grown man,” with a sly smile and I’m reminded that despite being in the business for the last 8 years, Chris is only 23.]

EBONY.com: Do you think sometimes people treat you differently because they don’t really grasp that you are so young?

CB: I kind of struggled with that myself to try to find out why people put me on their pedestal. But you know what it is? It’s a responsibility. For me, the responsibility I have to be an idol or to be looked upon as talented or creative or an inspiration--that comes with the territory.

People will automatically bring you into their life because you’re almost a part of it. Being on the radio all the time or being in a video, you’re always accessible and your life is for display. With me it’s just about the responsibility I have to take in and being able to learn from my actions and being able to show people the good shit.

EBONY.com: Because if you leave it up to the media…

CB: If you leave it up to them you’ll be the worst dude in the world [laughs].

But for me, I’m not trying to woo the naysayers--there’s always going to be people with opinions all the time—for me it’s just being able to put the music out and letting it speak for itself.

EBONY.com: How have you negotiated the whole social media thing? You want to let your music speak for itself, but you also speak for yourself…

CB: Used to [cracks a knowing smile]. I detached myself from social media only because it just takes away the magic. Twitter is a good outlet for certain people, but I think for me and the message I’m trying to portray, it’s all about the music, the magic, and the creativity of what I’m doing.

If you show somebody how to do a magic trick, it’s not a magic trick anymore.

[I wonder if Chris also detached himself from Twitter because of his memorable tweet beefs. He insists it’s about preserving the mystery, but I’m not so sure.]

EBONY.com: How do you prevent yourself from clapping back like you always have in the past, though? 

CB: You gotta kind of take it with a grain of salt. I can go through a list of a hundred occasions where the story hasn’t been true. Sometimes you might get a true story every now and then, so you have to take it with a grain of salt.

I’m shifting to what I’m focused on—my music and my painting. For right now, that’s all they need to know. Everything else is pretty much out there. I think when they hear this album they’ll be able to identify with—I’m not saying my side of things, I’m not trying to get an approval—but they can understand what I’m talking about.

EBONY.com: So the first single, “Fine China,” feels very old school and I got an instant Michael Jackson vibe. What were some of the influences on this album?

CB: I don’t try to do as much listening to the radio and seeing what the other person is doing. For this album I went in with the Quincy Jones approach--lock out in one studio, I brought in various writers and producers, and we just created.

[Chris starts to relax and he uncrosses his arms. His body language also loosens up and it’s clear he’s much more comfortable talking about music than himself.]

For “Fine China,” I can see how you can see a Michael Jackson influence because a lot of my influences growing up were eclectic—Bruce Springsteen, Phil Collins, Journey, Elton John, Boy George, Madonna, Michael Jackson, of course, Sam Cook, Pearl Jam. Different aspects of music shape the melodies in my head now. Whatever I have creatively that comes out is almost like me trying to make my own mark in the game by the influences I’ve had. With “Fine China” you can still feel that kinda “Off the Wall” Michael Jackson vibe [Chris snaps his fingers and does a little dance], but it’s still new and up to date. I really wanted to kind of bring that essence of music back with that single. When you go through the album it’s diverse, it doesn’t just have that one sound.

EBONY.com: The title track ‘X’ was very introspective in terms of subject matter. Is that the Breezy we’re going to be getting from now on? Very open about his feelings?

CB: With me, over the three or four year processing whatever my trials and tribulations have been, I’ve been focused on the wrong thing. I’ve been focused on being sheltered or being a recluse, and not trying to be as vocal or express my feelings. But I