Home > Big Picture > Chris Brown Sips the Lemonade of a Bad Boy Image

Chris Brown Sips the Lemonade of a Bad Boy Image

Singer/Dancer Chris Brown, once vilified for his assault on Rihanna, is turning his bad boy image on itself, generating hits songs "Deuces" and "No Bullshit."

In the heyday of rock and roll lifestyle, some artists were notorious for their “bad boy” aura.  Whether known for drug excess or possessing short tempers, rock stars embraced the off-stage labels they were given to help sell records.  Singer Chris Brown is just the latest on that list.  The likeable 16-year-old  crooner who once sang “excuse me miss/I saved the last dance for you,” is officially dead; now replaced by a 21 year-old, heavily tattooed Lothario who sings “If you can’t take it all, baby say when/make you cum over and over again/and Imma leave it in.”  Once an entertainment pariah for his 2009 Pre-Grammy Awards assault on former girlfriend, multi-platinum singer Rihanna, Brown managed to take the negative energy from the seething public and media out-crying and internalized it into personal musical expression, reaping success that’s revitalized his career and given him a new image as a R&B ruffian.

After initially (and unsuccessfully) trying to put things behind him with the release of his 2009 CD Graffiti, Chris Brown decided to take to the mixtape route, in an attempt to express his resentments, regrets and rage, and showcase it to his fans.  Following his stellar, show-stealing, exile dissolving tribute to hero Michael Jackson on the 2010 BET Awards, Breezy dropped the track “Deuces,” a lyrical kiss-off to a former lover bent on keeping him down (I wonder who he was talking about).   Taken from the mixtape Fan of a Fan featuring rappers Tyga and Kevin McCall, “Deuces” is laced with profane disdain: “All that bullshit’s for the birds/you ain’t nothing but a vulture/Always hoping for the worst/wanting for me to fuck up.”  His latest mixtape single, “No Bullshit” – a biting warning for his girl not to make an excuse to get out of sex (see lyrics in opening paragraph) – leaves little doubt that that bright-eyed teenager who sang “Run It” is in the rear view mirror.  What’s makes the songs so compelling, however, go beyond the beats and Brown’s increasingly maturing vocal ability;  The term “deuces” and phrase “don’t be on that bullshit” have been a part of the cultural lexicon for some time now, but were never eloquently put in the context of a song, until now.  Not only did Brown incorporate them into song, but in fact made them into anthems easy for the public to get behind.

Such an about face to Chris Brown’s image could have backfired.  Although the subject matter his two latest hits are R-rated and dripping with borderline arrogance, Brown’s honesty ironically put him in a position of vulnerability. More importantly, while the aforementioned ideal of bad boys = record sales worked for rock and rollers, it hasn’t fared well for Black artists.  Artists like Bobby Brown and Tupac Shakur, just  to name a few, thrived commercially due to their dangerous persona early in their careers.  But in the end, the media and consumers vilified their off stage antics, damaging their careers beyond repair (Shakur’s continued glorification of “thug life” didn’t hurt his career as much as it led to his murder).  Breezy seemed to be headed in that very direction, but the public had the final say: “Deuces” spent seven straight weeks at number 1 on the Billboard R&B charts and “No Bullshit” is currently number 3 and moving up.   When it comes to making lemonade out of lemons, Chris Brown has prevailed, for now.  People may never forget what Brown did to Rihanna, but it’s obvious they’re ready to forgive.
Categories: Big Picture
  1. January 30, 2011 at 1:56 am

    Well put Matt…. It is very definitive… And right to the point!

  2. ElDonChe
    January 31, 2011 at 6:09 am

    Great article Matt. Shining a positive light rarely seen on a talented man!

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