Chris Brown glided into the MTV newsroom dressed in a sweatshirt and jeans, his crown of kinky blond coils peeking out from underneath a navy-blue Billionaire Boys Club beanie. If not for the bodyguard, handlers and handful of pals trailing him, he might be indistinguishable from any other tatted 21-year-old fresh from sinking 3-pointers on the court.
It was an unseasonably warm (74 degrees in March!) Friday in New York City, and with fewer than five days to go until his fourth album, F.A.M.E., dropped, Brown had gone into a full-court promotional press for the disc, tweeting regular updates to his #TeamBreezy faithful and spreading his pre-album jubilation. After spending the last year largely self-propelling mixtape singles "Deuces" and "No BS" to stunning chart success, he again had the full support of his label and was eager to talk about the disc.
"A lot of the songs, people don't realize the mixtape songs, they're on [F.A.M.E.], but the mixtape songs were out almost a year before they actually went to radio. So it was a blessing for people to actually see those records a year later and kinda be like, 'Oh, I love that record,' " he told MTV News. "So it was great."
In fact, he seemed game to chat with us about just about anything, even offering a "winning" perspective on the NSFW photo of him that shook the Net. And although the mood was celebratory, and Chris was at turns goofy and playful, his history has a way of looming over the proceedings. We never mentioned her by name, but ex-girlfriend Rihanna and the 2009 assault that sent Brown's pop-star career spiraling remained a part of the interview subtext, if only because he seemed finally to have dulled the taint of that incident.
"The 'forgiving all my enemies' is basically for the naysayers," Brown told us, explaining the acronym of F.A.M.E. "The ones that maybe have looked past Chris Brown like, 'Oh, whatever.' And maybe this is the opportunity for them to maybe find a song off the album that inspires them ... so I think this album in itself is not just about me, it's about anybody who wants to be inspired by music or just be positive."
If Brown seemed to be singing a catchy new tune last Friday, by Tuesday morning, he was hitting all the wrong notes. During an appearance on "Good Morning America," questions about the Rihanna assault reportedly drove Brown into an offstage, chair-tossing fit. And like that, experts and fans were weighing in on whether the Virginia crooner could still make a comeback.
With the focus on what's perceived to be Brown's short fuse, the attention seems to be off his project, an eclectic collection that finds him further exploring electronic dance music territory, spitting with hip-hop titans and upstarts and even paying tribute to Michael Jackson with a song sampling his idol's classic "Human Nature."
Chris had so many songs, he revealed to us, that he and the label agreed, "depending on the progress of all my singles," that he would deliver another full-length disc in six months.
"On my mixtapes, I was putting 18 and 19 songs, so just imagine how many songs I was saving for my album; I had at least 70 to 80 records. I was like, 'How am I really gonna put this out?' So then I was talking about a double disc ... and then, you know, the label and everybody, they put their input in and they were like, 'Nooo, that's not gonna happen,' " he laughed. "I have so many records that I'm just waiting to put out. Just trying to look [to] the future and have it prepared."
The long-term fallout from the "GMA" episode remains unclear, but Brown is making one thing crystal: He wants the music front and center.