Greeted with comparisons to a young Michael Jackson and Usher, Chris Brown arrived in 2005 as a squeaky-clean pop-R&B artist with "Run It!," the first debut single by a male artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 in over a decade. While there was nowhere to go but down, at least in terms of chart positions, the singer, dancer, and occasional rapper was only getting started. Within a few years, Brown became one of the biggest active pop stars with Chris Brown (2005) and Exclusive (2007), multi-platinum albums that produced five more Top Ten singles, including "Kiss Kiss" and "Forever." As a featured artist or duettist, he added to the count with hits such as "No Air," a ballad with Jordin Sparks. By the end of the decade, Brown underwent a stylistic makeover during which his forebears shifted to the likes of Jodeci, R. Kelly, and 2Pac. This, and a more drastic change in his public image, did little to slow his commercial momentum. His streak of Top Ten albums was sustained with releases such as Graffiti (2009), the Grammy-winning F.A.M.E. (2011), and Fortune (2012). Brown's artistic scope has since continued to widen with Heartbreak on a Full Moon (2017) and Indigo (2019), albums as long as epic films, and Breezy (2022), his tenth consecutive Top Ten solo LP.
Chris Brown is originally from Tappahannock, Virginia. Like a lot of kids born in the mid- to late '80s, he got into his parents' favorite music but eventually fell under the spell of hip-hop. Around the time his voice changed, he discovered his singing ability and switched his focus away from MCing. A move to New York led to being discovered by Tina Davis, a Def Jam A&R executive who became the singer's manager shortly after losing her position in the Sony-BMG merger. The Jive label, due in part to its track record with younger artists who had established longevity (like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake), won the bidding war for Brown and lined up several production and songwriting heavy weights, including Jermaine Dupri, Bryan-Michael Cox, Sean Garrett, and Scott Storch, for his self-titled first album. An immediate Top Ten hit when it was released in 2005, Chris Brown not only featured the number one "Run It!" but two other Top Ten singles in "Yo (Excuse Me Miss)" and "Say Goodbye." Brown was subsequently nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best New Artist. Exclusive, released in 2007 and a bit of a departure from the wholesome image presented throughout his debut, was even more successful, featuring the number one single "Kiss Kiss" and two other Top Five hits. Yet another Top Five hit came with "No Air," a duet with Jordin Sparks that appeared on Sparks' own self-titled album. Brown also co-wrote "Disturbia," a number one hit for Rihanna.