As a publication that takes pride in the extensive research into the (sadly) numerous problematic individuals who have yet to be banished from their respective industries—more prominently, music and film—and held accountable for the predatory behaviour, we couldn’t go any longer without mentioning Chris Brown. If you thought that Drake and Machine Gun Kelly were gross, wait until you read all there is to know about the R&B singer-songwriter. We’re talking Jared Leto-level of repulsive here.
First things first, let’s give you a quick refresh on who Brown is and how he first gained popularity. Brown is an American singer, songwriter, dancer, graffiti artist and actor. To this day, and according to Billboard, he remains one of the most influential and successful R&B singers ever, with several putting him alongside the likes of Usher and R. Kelly—oopsie, would you look at that, another disgusting man. In terms of Brown’s musical style, many would agree that his approach to R&B includes several influences from other genres, mainly hip hop and pop music. And as expected when it comes to the rhythm and blues category, his lyrics often revolve predominantly around themes of sex, romance, ‘fast life’, desire, regret and emotional conflict. Cry us a river, Christopher.
Brown went from choir boy to getting signed with Jive Records in 2004, leading him to release his self-titled debut studio album the following year, which sold 154,000 copies in the first week and became certified triple platinum. As stated on his Wikipedia page, “With his first single ‘Run It!’ peaking atop the Billboard Hot 100, Brown became the first male artist since 1995 to have his debut single top the chart.”
His second album, Exclusive, reached an even bigger commercial success worldwide and from there, Brown’s popularity never diminished. All this to say that the artist, despite the long list of accusations he still faces today, has had his career and reputation remain intact all because critics once compared him to Michael Jackson—leading him to, much like Leto, gain a cult-like following from his fans.
Okay, this one’s probably the most obvious piece of evidence you’ve already heard of yet somehow managed to put aside? Don’t feel too guilty just yet though, it seems like mainstream society unanimously decided to do so. From 2007 to 2009, Brown dated singer and absolute icon Rihanna. Aged 19 at the time, the R&B prodigy’s public image had been pretty clean until the vicious fight between him and Riri made headlines.
As recounted by Rolling Stone, “the night before the  Grammy Awards, where the couple had been nominated for two awards each, the pair had left a pre-Grammy party [in Los Angeles] and got into a public altercation. Rihanna’s face and arms had been covered in visible contusions and bruises.”
Shortly after the incident, police sources told TMZ that when they arrived at the Hancock Park crime scene, they took photos of the singer’s injuries, which they called “horrific.” There were reportedly major contusions on both sides of Rihanna’s face, and her lip was split and nose was bloody. There was also “serious swelling and bruising,” as well as several bite marks on her arm and several fingers.
Brown was charged with battery following his former girlfriend’s hospitalisation. The photos taken of Rihanna after the assault—if you somehow haven’t seen them already—were described as “devastating proof of abuse.” TMZ also reported that Rihanna told the police her assailant did the damage solely with his fists and did not have any weapons. Grim.
On 22 June 2009, Brown pleaded guilty to a felony and accepted a plea deal of five years of probation. He was also ordered to attend one year of domestic violence counselling and undergo six months of community service. The judge retained a five-year restraining order on Brown, which required him to remain 50 yards (45.72 metres) away from Rihanna, reduced to 10 yards at public events.
In September of that same year, Brown spoke about what had happened in a pre-recorded Larry King Live interview, his first public interview on the matter. He discussed growing up in a household with his mother being repeatedly assaulted by his stepfather and when asked about hearing details of his assault on Rihanna, said: “I’m in shock, because, first of all, that’s not who I am as a person and that’s not who I promise I want to be.”
That same year was the release of Brown’s third album, Graffiti, which was widely considered to be a commercial failure in comparison to his previous works. While performing a Michael Jackson tribute at the 2010 BET Awards, the R&B artist started to cry and fell to his knees while singing ‘Man in the Mirror’. The performance and his ‘emotional turmoil’ resonated with several celebrities present at the ceremony—it was as if crying on stage was enough performative guilt for the industry. “He left his heart on the stage. He gave genuine emotion. I was proud of him and I was happy for him for having that moment,” said Trey Songz.
Later during the award ceremony, Brown stated, “I let y’all down before, but I won’t do it again… I promise.” And guess what? He didn’t keep his loose promise… But not to worry, we’ll get into that very soon. This attitude was short-lived however, as only two years after being charged with battery, while doing an interview for Good Morning America and after being asked about the domestic abuse case, the singer reportedly stormed off the set. It was also alleged that he had broken a window in his dressing room. Feeling guilty much?
While still on probation for assaulting Rihanna, Brown risked spending time in prison after being accused of stealing a woman’s phone in February 2012. As reported by The Guardian at the time of the incident, the victim, Christal Spann, went to Miami Beach police complaining of an altercation with Brown outside a nightclub.
Spann claimed she snapped a photo of the celebrity as he came out of the club and climbed into a black Bentley. The R&B star then “reached through his car window and snatched her phone from her hands,” according to a police report. As the car pulled away, Brown allegedly sneered, “Bitch, you ain’t going to put that [photo] on no website.”
Though Brown ended up not getting charged, this incident was yet further proof of his erratic and downright violent behaviour. But things were far from over for him when it comes to club-related occurrences…
In June 2012, a scuffle broke out at around 4am between Drake’s entourage and Brown’s at a New York club called W.I.P. Several conflicting reports were released as to what caused the fight, including an alleged argument over Rihanna. Five people were injured in the melee, including NBA star Tony Parker, with Brown receiving a cut on the chin.
A spokesman for the NYPD also said that witnesses reported hearing gunshots inside the club during the scuffle, though no one seemed to have seen the weapon. Brown’s attorney alleged Drake was the instigator. The ‘With You’ singer himself even tweeted about the incident and publicly criticised the Toronto-born rapper just weeks later.
In January 2013, Los Angeles police responded to a call of six men fighting over a parking space at a recording studio, according to witnesses. Authorities did not name the man whom witnesses say Brown punched, but Frank Ocean ended up tweeting that it was him.
“Got jumped by Chris and a couple guys. lol. I only wish Everest was there,” Ocean wrote that night. “Cut my finger now I can’t play w[ith] two hands at the Grammys,” he continued. Everest is the singer-songwriter’s dog.
According to the sheriff’s department, and as previously reported on CNN, the fight ended after the men were separated, with Brown and his camp disappearing by the time deputies arrived. Although Ocean alleged that Brown had threatened to shoot him, he said he would not press charges.
Fellow artist Sean Kingston who was present at the scene alleged that Ocean and his cousin instigated the incident and were at fault. Brown later sued Ocean and his cousin for the incident and the matter was eventually settled out of court.
When it comes to this specific accusation, it’s important to note that the claims made by the alleged victim, Deanna Gines, were never confirmed to be true by the police and were, of course, denied by the singer’s legal team. Brown’s representative, Nicole Perna, told TMZ, “I’m unaware of the incident, as is Chris’ lawyer and his entire team. He was in a great mood after Powerhouse. None of this makes sense.”
Gines, who was 24 in June 2013, claimed that after seeing Brown perform at the club, she approached him and tried to kiss him—which is by no means okay—resulting in the artist violently pushing her to the ground. Gines further told TMZ that she went to the hospital where doctors told her she had torn ligaments in her right knee.
In September 2015, a woman made allegations that suggested Brown had assaulted her. According to reporting at the time, the woman pressed charges for reportedly being thrown off of the bus. The alleged assault took place outside a Gentlemen’s Club in Denver where Brown, French Montana and Fetty Wap were in the process of shooting a new music video.
The third-degree assault charges were filed when the woman refused to hand over her mobile phone on the production set in line with the shoot’s regulations.
Addressing the story on Twitter, the singer tweeted:
He followed his initial tweet with a second one that read, “Let’s shine the light on real fucking criminals. People looking for a come up. Hilarious!” Somehow, Brown avoided facing the music once more.
Not to make a joke out of Brown’s worrying behaviour, but we’re seeing a pattern here that mainly consists of violence against women and phone grabbing. Though the artist ended up not getting charged in the alleged assault due to lack of evidence, in January 2016, he was involved in an alleged assault that occurred following the singer’s concert in Las Vegas.
The day after his performance, the Las Vegas police department confirmed to The Associated Press that they were investigating Brown as a suspect in an alleged battery. While the police would not discuss any details of the ongoing investigation, TMZ—with permission from the alleged victim—reported that the incident involved a woman named Liziane Gutierrez.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Brown’s representative denied the allegations. “Making false accusations seems to be a pattern of behaviour for Ms. Gutierrez. Whatever her motives, her statements are unequivocally untrue,” the singer’s rep said. Heard this before?
According to Gutierrez’s version of the events however, as told to TMZ, Brown assaulted her after she snuck her cellphone into the singer’s suite and took a photo, angering him, and leading him to yell at her and punch her in the eye. Gutierrez claimed she then left the party and, a few hours later, called the police. She did not seek medical attention at a hospital.
In August 2012, Brown began working with Mike G—real name Michael Guirguis—who became his personal manager at a time when the singer’s career was not at its best. The suit, obtained by USA TODAY, stated, “no one else was interested in Brown—after his sickening and gruesome attack on then-girlfriend Rihanna and while Brown was on probation and in rehab (Brown was later asked to leave the rehab facility)—Mike G agreed to work as Brown’s personal manager.”
In June 2016, Mike G filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against his former client, claiming Brown “viciously attacked” him and that his injuries sent him to the hospital. “Days before Brown was set to leave for a much-anticipated and highly lucrative European tour, [he] turned his (drug-fueled) rage on Mike G,” the suit further stated. “What Mike G assumed would be a run-of-the-mill conversation about the upcoming tour turned into Brown shutting [him] alone into a room with him and brutally attacking him—punching him four times in the face and neck.”
The singer’s ex-manager sued Brown for assault, false imprisonment, intention to inflict emotional distress and breach of contract. At the time, the artist responded with an Instagram video from his tour in Europe in which he was heard saying: “Ok, you knew it was coming… Shit is getting mad and filing lawsuits because I fired them because they’re stealing money! You’re stealing money, pal. So. You’re mad because you’re no longer existent. It’s alright. I’m going to keep pushing. God bless you. Wish you the best of luck.”
In 2019, it was reported that Brown and Mike G had agreed to work out a deal between themselves instead of going to court as initially planned. However, following these accusations, the singer’s tour manager, Nancy Ghosh, also claimed that he had threatened a similar attack against her and cut ties with the performer.
According to Complex, Ghosh allegedly quit on the spot after a drug-fuelled outburst from Brown left her feeling unsafe back in May 2016. She claimed that the supposed ‘King of R&B’ cursed her out over the terms of her employment, which led her to jump off the tour bus and quit the job altogether.
Ghosh reportedly then emailed Brown’s entire team to explain what went down and claimed that she felt unsafe because the artist was “irrational and high on drugs.” She also claimed he referenced “what he did to Mike G” and threatened to do the same to her, which is why she decided it was in the best interest of her safety to get off the tour bus immediately.
In August 2016, Brown was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after a woman, Baylee Curran, told police he had threatened her with a gun. As reported by the BBC, Curran told the LA Times that Brown had pointed the gun at her face after she had been admiring his friend’s jewellery.
The woman also revealed that she had gone to the singer’s house with a friend, as well as a business associate, on Monday evening. She added that she had been admiring the diamond necklace of a man who had been showing off his jewellery when the man got angry and told her to back away. That’s when she claims the ‘Breezy’ artist pulled out a gun, pointed it at her face and told her to get out.
The next day, Brown was arrested with his lawyer later tweeting that his client had been freed, adding that the accusations were—you know the drill by now—“demonstrably false.” The R&B vocalist was released on $250,000 (£190,000) bail.
However, Brown later sued the accuser for defamation, winning the lawsuit after an investigation proved that the defendant brought to court false and defamatory statements about the singer, through her incriminating text messages where she said “don’t you know this freak Chris Brown is kicking me out of his house because I called his friend jewellery fake can you come get me my Uber is messing up if not I’m going to set him up and call the cops and say that he tried to shoot me and that will teach him a lesson I’m going to set his ass up.”
Though the accusation came out in January 2022, the alleged assault reportedly took place on a yacht on 30 December 2020 in Miami, Florida. Once again, he took to social media to respond to the serious claims, suggesting on his Instagram Story that he is only being sued because he’s releasing new music.
“I HOPE YALL SEE THIS PATTERN… whenever im releasing music or projects,” he wrote. The lawsuit has been filed by an unidentified professional dancer and musician who is named only as ‘Jane Doe’ in legal documents, according to the BBC.
The documents detail five separate accusations against the singer—sexual assault, violation of the Gender Violence Statute, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment. Any of these sound familiar?
The victim claims she now “fears for her life and career” following an invitation to a yacht at a property owned by rapper and producer Diddy, where the alleged incident is said to have taken place. She went on to state in court documents that she was offered drinks by Brown after arriving, and later felt “a sudden, unexplained change in consciousness.”
She became “disoriented, physically unstable, and started to fall in and out of sleep,” before being led to a bedroom where Brown allegedly undressed and raped her. The singer is said to have contacted the woman the following day, telling her to take an emergency contraceptive. This certainly wasn’t the first time the Grammy winner has faced such an accusation.
In January 2019, the artist was released without charge in Paris, France after being questioned on suspicion of rape. The star and two other men had been arrested after a 24-year-old woman alleged she was assaulted in a hotel in the city earlier that month. After his release, Brown denied once more any wrongdoing on Instagram.
Even if it turns out true that a few of the many accusations listed just above were unfounded, the simple fact that the artist has such a long history of violence towards women is enough to justify just how urgent it is for the music industry to realise Brown must face repercussions for his actions.
Ever since his attack on Rihanna, Brown has been tied to a long list of alleged assaults and violent incidents. Not to mention his ex-girlfriend Karrueche Tran was granted a restraining order against him citing physical violence during their relationship and menacing behaviour after their split, including threatening to kill her.
How does someone with multiple alleged violent assaults against both intimate partners and complete strangers continue to be widely celebrated by fans and other artists? Sure, the man benefits from expensive legal representation as well as a crisis management team and influential allies. But while celebrities are perfect targets for those who want to see the rich and famous punished for their crimes, too often, we’ve come to realise that specific personalities aren’t treated like the rest of the ones in the public eye.
As we start to witness a slow yet growing online movement calling for Leto’s predatory behaviour to be exposed, we hope the same light will finally be shed on Brown’s history of violence.