After more than one year of dodging the press, Chris Brown breaks his silence.

Words: Chris Brown
Images: Juco

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the December/January 2013 issue of XXL Magazine.

Since this is my first cover in a minute, I’ll explain why I wasn’t doing interviews. I’ve been adamant about not doing anything with the press because I wasn’t confident with myself. I don’t think people realized that. They probably thought, “Oh, he just wanna hide from people. He just wanna do his own thing.”

I wasn’t confident.

At this point in my life, though, if I’m fearless enough to go on stage and perform for about 50,000 people and sing my heart out and damn near die every night flipping, then I’m able to walk with my head held high. I shouldn't worry about what somebody is gonna say about me or their opinion of me. I’m in this fucking game to do this. That’s really what I’m here to do. So why not do it? That’s just what I'm promoting and if nobody can
alter my attitude then nobody can ever get a reaction.

I gained success so early, I was like 14, 15 years old doing world tours. And just living a life that I never dreamed of. And arrogance plays a big part into that. You have a lot of “yes men,” a lot of people in your circle that are good and a lot of people that are bad. They tend to build you up and you don’t really listen to your mind first, the one that tells you to cool your head and understand what it is. I think, at that time, it was just a steppingstone for me to learn from. I’m 23 now. I don’t know what the future holds. I can only live it day-by-day. But I can just say, I live in reality. I deal with reality. Yeah, I like to create an image, but I definitely don’t want to be fake to my audience because whatever I do is natural.

I feel like a lot of artists aren’t living in reality anymore. A lot of people are caught up in, “Well, I sold this” or “People say my name a lot when I go here.” They don’t take heed of just, life. Everybody got the same life problems, and everybody goes through the same shit. I think people do too much trying to hide it instead of accepting it and just knowing it’s life.

A lot of people wanna know about the whole situation with me, Drake and Meek Mill. At the end of the day, I’m me, they’re them. They rap, I sing. Totally different caliber. I rap, I play around on mixtapes. But our worlds don’t collide as much as you’d think. I don’t really focus on that situation. They do them, I do me. I’m not here to be friends with everybody and I could really care less. For me, it’s just about living my life and taking care of my family. At the end of the day, shit’s gonna happen. I’m a nigga just like everybody else but we act like men and handle it accordingly and just keep it moving.

I have had some challenges during the past few years. There have been some ups and downs. But I think now, as time progressed, I’ve proven my talent. People are starting to not be so simple minded anymore and realize that a three- or four year-old mistake can change your life, but it also can make it better, too.

For example, with certain award shows, you know they give you a set and I set those expectations so high that I’ll have to come out of my own pocket because I didn’t have certain sponsorships or extra alley-oops for me that used to be there or that other artists might have because the companies didn’t wanna take the risk with me. But then you might look at another artist that gets a drug charge, gun charge or whatever charge it is and it’s cool. They ain’t gonna get looked at funny if they fuck with ’em. But if they fuck with me, it’s a side-eye. That’s been one of the challenges I’ve faced.

At the end of the day, people want to pick and choose who they’re mad at, and who they want as an advocate for anger, and that’s not cool. I’m not here to be bitter about it or upset about it. I live my life one day at a time, one step at a time so when people tend to not forgive me or say I haven’t shown remorse, I don’t pay attention. I just leave it in God’s hands.


Sometimes life can be a double-edged sword. No matter how much charitable stuff I do, it’s not enough to appease people or win a crowd over. I’m doing it out of the kindness of my heart. So if a camera crew comes around because they hear I’m doing something or donating to somewhere, for me, it’s publicity for those people. I want people to see the change in their lives. I don’t care. I hate the cameras most of the time unless I’m behind it directing, or making something to present for the world. As far as reality, I just like to help people in general. I don’t do it for money or a pat on the back. It’s my own reassurance to me that I’m doing something in my life. I just take it a day at a time and people are gonna say what they want to say. I just laugh, at the end of the day I can’t be mad. I’ve grown up. I’ve had the past two, three years to be mad.

There have been some media that have gone in on me, but I understand that game and at the end of the day, you can’t be mad at them. They’re job is to dissect life and drain it as much as possible. That’s how they make their money. If they know that a lot of people love Chris Brown and if they know that people are gonna keep coming to their site by talking shit, then they’re gonna keep saying whatever. They’ll come up with something every other week or every week and I can’t take heed to it as much any more. In the beginning, I used to be hot. I’m normal. I’m human, so if anybody says something that’s a lie, I’m numb to it. I’ve smartened up.

I haven’t been as mature and thought out in the past, so, me growing now, it’s showing my progression. I used to use my Twitter account to vent, but now I mostly use it for marketing and promotions. Even if the media asks me something, if it’s cool then it’s, “What’s up?” But if it’s anything that’s too negative, I don’t care to respond.

One thing people often want me to talk about is my public love life. When it comes to my love life, the perception seems as though I am a player. But that’s not true. Love is something I am still learning. It’s just an obstacle that I haven’t yet mastered. I think that’s my biggest hurdle in life. Women are my ultimate challenge but defi nitely my ultimate want and necessity. So it’s a give and take and also something I try to focus on and make sense of.

A lot of people like to know about my public love life. There is a webisode that I recently released about my love life and personal life that spoke on this topic. For the people that are interested and haven’t seen it, they can go to my website,, to catch the episode and understand what I am talking about.

I think one of my biggest challenges now is understanding people in general. As a society, as a conglomerate, as a community, as a whole, like, the thought process of people is insane to me sometimes and I don’t want to sound like the bandwagon effect. Even today, we still deal with bullying and racism. Some people have hatred towards one another for no real reason. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Like, when people have their own free will, you can paint, do whatever you want but sometimes society’s reasons for things don’t make sense to me. Like why we haven’t had free health care in America and how are people still starving in the world? I kind of have a battle with myself about certain things I wanna do. How can I financially support generations to come with all the slandering of my name that I have had to overcome by proving the type of person I really am.

I use music or painting as my outlet to get through the confusion. I try to promote positivity and love. I don't try to be the guy that everybody frowns at when I walk in the room. Hopefully everybody could be like, “Oh guess what? Chris Brown just walked in.” It would be a cool experience to not be like, “Ahh man, I knew that guy was an asshole.”

I’ve gotten more into art to relax. Painting, for me, is like a stress reliever. Being able to create something else from scratch is just like music and dancing to me but I think I always was creative with drawing, spray-painting, anything. I really started focusing on it maybe three years ago. I went to a lot of different art shows and hung out with an eclectic group of people that didn’t do the normal trap shit: Hanging out, smoking. I just wanted to expand what my mental capacity. So I was like, “Let me go to these art exhibits myself. I don't have to have my homies with me.” So I started going and met a lot of diff erent painters, street artists. I showed them a lot of my stuff and they taught me different techniques, spraypainting wise, and it’s been helping me ever since. I’ve been able to have an art gallery and I did two big shows, one in LA’s Corey Helford Gallery and one at New York’s Opera Gallery. Already, I sold four of my pieces out of seven and 50 percent of the proceeds went to my foundation, Symphonic Love, which I launched in November. So being able to have people appreciate my art and not say, “Oh, that’s just some crayon shit, some bullshit he just put up on a wall,” is a blessing and another form of my creation of who Chris Brown is.

With art for me, it’s all personal but people can still get it—just like my music. Music is personal to me, too, but it’s something I want people to hear. So with art, it’s the same thing. I created it all myself. I don’t really have anybody trace anything or go over it, I do everything myself. Then from there, hopefully people can see it and if they like it, or they don’t, then I’ll know what to critique. I know I have a long future ahead of me but my mission is to be one of the greatest. All the greats had to overcome major struggles and challenges. At this point of my life, I feel like people won’t appreciate me until I am gone. But everyday I work hard to change that.