MIMO - When Music is Your Fix

What’s Wrong with Chris Brown?

Y’all remember that delightful kid with the velvet voice beaming, flirting and spinning like a young Michael Jackson in “Yo (Excuse Me Miss)?”  Remember him?  That was Chris Brown.

That was a different time. Nowadays, unfortunately, all we see is a string of unflattering headlines.  Domestic Violence.  Bar fights. Drake stand-offs.  Substance abuse.  Arrests.  Rehab.  More arrests.  Where did that guy go?

Chris Brown spent last weekend behind bars in a downtown Los Angeles jail, having been arrested for breaking probation after being kicked out of rehab on Friday.  Chris had been in treatment for his anger issues since October, and was court-ordered to remain in the rehab program until his next court appearance in April.  Still on probation for his 2009 assault on Rihanna, he entered rehab after a confrontation with a man outside a D.C. hotel.  There’s no comment on which rules Chris actually broke in the rehab facility before he got the boot;  however, he was being treated for substance abuse, bi-polar disorder and anger management.

Chris has his hearing today following the weekend jail stint, during which attorney Mark Geragos will either try to get the judge to release Chris or at least get him admitted to a different rehab facility instead of locking him up.  It remains to be seen whether Supreme Court Judge James R. Brandlin will further penalize the singer for this recent arrest.  His D.C. trial is set for April, and if found guilty, Chris may be sent to prison.

This is the second time in the last four months that Chris has been kicked out of a rehab facility. So the real question is: why is Chris so angry?

Doesn’t it seem like that Rihanna assault incident never really went away?  It keeps coming back up like a case of bad acne because the roots of it were never properly dealt with – only medicated, scandalized and buried.  I sense Chris’ anger, like most anger, comes from some kind of deep hurt, an unhealed pain.

Let’s go back to 2009.  The Grammy Awards were forever scarred by those awful pictures of Rihanna’s bruised and battered face.  The first thing I thought when Chris Brown was named the culprit was, Oh, he better really acknowledge that.  (Yes, I, of course, also ranted to all my male friends on the horrors of domestic violence.)

I saw the rounds of press reviews, and how all of Chris’ handlers urged him to say just the “right” thing to keep him (and his career) in public good graces after the public shaming he’d undergone.  The motive, however, seemed to be to keep the albums selling.  Something was ajar. Something was missing from the mea culpa.  Something from the soul.

Usually, abusers have either been abused, or have witnessed abuse.  There have been reports that Chris came from an abusive family, which might be the real root of his angry outbursts.   Unreconciled rage, broken trust, unhealed family pain—they can all play a part. Don’t get me wrong: Chris is ultimately responsible for his actions.  But abuse is still a learned behavior.

Yes, Chris is still a megastar, with millions of dollars and legions of fans. But the problem is that celebrities are often quick to use the trappings of success as a shield for a bruised or broken spirit, and that pain festers like dirty laundry in a closet.  Fame never cured brokenness.  We have plenty of suicidal celebrities to attest to that,

Being a celebrity does not solve human issues—it simply overbloats them.  Chris does not have the luxury of privacy to navigate his anger, confusion, shame or pain.  He’s probably asking himself, just like we are, “Who am I? Did I get off on the wrong train somewhere?” Our society doesn’t actually teach us how to heal brokenness in the soul.   It teaches us how to numb it or medicate it with drugs.  True acknowledgement of one’s pain and the roots of one’s problem is the only way to begin the road to recovery and redemption.

So what’s wrong with Chris Brown?  Why is he so angry?  We can only assume that somewhere inside, Chris is still dealing with brokenness.  And until that is fully dealt with, the anger outbursts are likely to continue, and we will continue to search for that young kid who first popped on screen and delighted us with his music.

(Photo: Eva Rinaldi/Flickr/Wikimedia)

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About the Author


Mic check 1,2,1,2. Not the words you expect to bust out of Orange County, California, but that's where Deborah Jane found her funk. Daughter of Guyanese immigrants, Deborah grew up in an all-white suburb where she was one of the only black kids in her school. (Fun fact: She didn't make her first black friend until attending Stanford University). Hip-hop gave her a voice and helped her discover her roots. Now she is an emcee and writer who both spits raps and writes editorials, TV shows and films - especially hip-hop musicals!

At Stanford, she wrote and produced an award-winning hip-hop musical, Strange Fruit: The Hip-Hopera (www.strangefruithiphopera.com) - now in development as a feature film. Deborah also launched her hip-hip theatre webseries, The HOTT (www.youtube.com/TheHOTTtv), published in Urban Cusp Magazine. Currently, she is penning her first hip-hop album, Do You Love Me Deborah Jane? And do you? She truly hopes you all love her.

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