In 1988, an R&B singer from Boston emerged from the shadow of his former group to become one of the biggest pop stars of the era. Bobby Brown had been fired from the successful quintet New Edition and released a lukewarm debut album that went nowhere. But on his sophomore release, Don’t Be Cruel, the electric performer teamed with New Jack Swing producers Teddy Riley, L.A. Reid and Babyface. The result was a multiplatinum masterpiece.
It seems like ancient history now. Not only because it’s been 25 years since that album was dominating the charts, but also because of the tremendous freefall, that Brown would eventually find himself in and how that fall cost him his career. Most fans know the story: Brown became notorious for raunchy and rowdy behavior. He would marry pop superstar Whitney Houston, but becoming a husband and father did little to slow his hard-living ways. For most of the 1990s, Brown’s name became associated with arrests and sentences as opposed to albums and singles.
Today, another Brown seems to be following in a distressingly similar path as the Bad Boy From Beantown.
Chris Brown is one of the more successful R&B stars of the last several years. The once-precocious performer has racked up numerous hit singles and acclaimed videos and he’s won Grammy awards. But ever since that fateful night in 2009, when he viciously beat his former girlfriend, pop star Rihanna, following a Grammy party; his life has been a frustrating combination of professional highs and personal lows. Surprisingly, the former teen star was able to reclaim much of his fame after the backlash against him quieted. But, even since then, Chris Brown seems determined to destroy his career–much like Bobby Brown did.
Brown has been involved in several altercations over the last two years–a couple of them involving other stars. In the summer of 2012, he and rapper Drake caused a melee at the WiP nightclub in New York City that resulted in the club owner and several patrons filing lawsuits against them both. In January 2013, Chris was involved in a physical altercation with singer Frank Ocean outside of a recording studio. Last week, he was involved in a fight in Washington, D.C. The charges in the last incident were reduced to a misdemeanor, but Brown saw fit to check himself into a rehabilitation center for anger management.
Unlike Bobby Brown, Chris Brown doesn’t have the weight of one blockbuster album to live up to. And while Bobby’s career peak was only about three years as a solo artist, Chris has been churning out hits since 2005. But anyone can sabotage their career. And with Chris Brown becoming more and more notorious by the moment, one hopes that he quickly figures out how to slow himself down and straighten things out. Because there’s nothing more cruel than becoming a has-been at 28 years old.