In 2005, a 16-year-old Chris Brown stormed the pop and R&B charts with his self-titled debut album (Number One R&B, Number Two Pop) and smash hit "Run It!" (Number One R&B, Number 1 Pop). The album presented trendy electronic production techniques and updated homages to Brown's heroes Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Usher.
Born Christopher Maurice Brown on May 5th, 1989, in the small town of Tappahannock, in Virginia's Northern Neck, he began dancing at age 2 and singing at 11, but initially aspired to be a rapper. Around that time, his father met a record producer while working his gas station job. Brown eventually signed with Jive Records, which teamed him with a string of name songwriters and producers including Jermaine Dupri and Scott Storch. In addition to the jaunty "Run It!" (featuring rapper Juelz Santana and a video that showed off Brown's plentiful dancing skills), Chris Brown yielded hits with the smooth bubblegum R&B of "Yo (Excuse Me Miss)" (Number Two R&B; Number Seven Pop, 2005) and the R&B/hip-hop tracks "Gimme That" (Number Five R&B; Number 15 Pop, 2006) with Lil Wayne, and "Poppin'" (Number Five R&B; Number 42 Pop, 2006). The album won the young singer with the boyish face a string of awards in 2006 including Soul Train's Best R&B Soul New Artist, BET's Best New Artist, Teen Choice's Male Breakout Artist and Billboard's Male Artist of the Year, New Artist of the Year and overall Artist of the Year.
Before releasing his second album, Brown headlined the Up Close and Personal Tour (which also included Bow Wow, Ne-Yo and Lil Wayne) and stole the show at 2007's MTV Video Music Awards, performing a tightly choreographed medley that included Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." Exclusive (Number Two R&B; Number Four Pop, 2007) arrived in November 2007 and broadened his musical palette with help from collaborators Will.i.am, Big Boi and Kanye West. The album yielded a blockbuster hit with rapper T-Pain, "Kiss Kiss" (Number One Pop; Number Two R&B, 2007), as well as the acoustic-based R&B/pop ballad "With You" (Number Two Pop; Number Five R&B, 2007). Shortly after the album came out, Brown made his second big-screen appearance in the holiday film This Christmas (he previously starred in the college dance film Stomp the Yard and made several television appearances). "Kiss Kiss" was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 50th Grammy Awards.
To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here
MUSIC 9 Classic Devo Videos
OLYMPICS 18 Epic Opening Ceremonies