THE BRONX, New York There was something in the air on Wednesday. In hindsight: a certain electricity. And while we're still patching together the details of what went down between Drake, Chris Brown and their crews in SoHo, we do know that two 20-something millionaires — who have a million reasons to celebrate — went from popping bottles to lobbing bottles.
Members of MTV News' hip-hop brain trust were under the same roof as Drizzy just before he turned up at W.i.P nightclub and things went left. In another coincidence, earlier that day, we welcomed Breezy to the newsroom, where he teased his Fortune LP ... and praised Drake — without any prompting from us. We'd be wrong not to share with you, so we've detailed what we saw in the 24 hours leading up to the bloody confrontation.
Fresh off the New Jersey leg of his Club Paradise Tour, Drake headed to the Sin City gentleman's club in the Bronx, where Maybach Music's entire starting lineup had gathered to drink to their accomplishment, namely the imminent release of the Self Made 2 album. Rozay was there in all his bearded glory, and so was Drizzy's Paradise tourmate Meek Mill; all were on hand to give industry insiders and lucky fans a preview of their compilation.
The Toronto spitter's fascination with the Maliahs of the world is well-documented, and he looked right at home when he got to Sin City. In a bit of cinematic timing, he strolled in just as his verse on "Stay Schemin' " came over the speakers and a new band of pole-clutching, cream-complexioned girls rotated onto a V.I.P. stage.
Flanked by security, the YMCMB star greeted well-wishers and then made his way to the back. Maybe he was looking forward to letting off steam after the energetic 90-minute set we caught on Tuesday in Jersey. But Drake had just lost his close friend Christopher "Lewds" Natalio, too, so maybe spending a couple ones was just the prescription.
Meanwhile, early Wednesday afternoon, at around 1:15 p.m. ET, Brown paid a visit to our 1515 Broadway headquarters. Dressed in Jordans and a white Comme des Garçons polo, he bounced into the interview room with girlfriend Karrueche Tran trailing quietly behind. Breezy's bodyguard, Big Pat — who later suffered head injuries in the melee at W.i.P — was also with Brown.
While we set up mics and cameras, Chris held out his arms for us to get a good look at his inked-up sleeves. Soon the topic turned to his rapping and how much we liked the Fortune track "Till I Die." The Virginia crooner told us he was in a '90s-rap state of mind when it comes to fashion (check his "Today" show vintage), but firmly in this decade when it comes to music. He grew animated explaining why he felt at ease rapping and singing on a record these days, citing the reception for "Look at Me Now" and the impact of a certain Canadian actor-turned-rapper.
"I think the culture is starting to be very different and be [accepting of] diversity," he said. "You don't have to be the hardest of the hardest rapper or the toughest of the toughest guy to make a statement ... as far as your music. ... So with Justin [Bieber] and me and you've got Drake and other people that rap that aren't the DMXs of the world — it's a different day.
"I think people are just listening to the music," he added, saying fans don't get caught up in giving rappers a thug litmus test or in judging whether they live a street "lifestyle."
Kind words indeed, but tension was brewing. We haven't mentioned Rihanna yet but it's nearly impossible to talk about Chris Brown and Drake these days without the Bajan stunner's name coming up. Brown is the ex who did her wrong and Drizzy, the collaborator who once rapped about wanting to do right by her, who would have accepted sparks over "fireworks" with her. To hear the blogs tell it, the brawl was over Rih, and it was a collision waiting to happen. A tug of war over who could claim her erupted, with Meek making the triangle a very complicated quad.
All it took was for all of the players to touch down in one place, and on Wednesday night, they did.
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