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Today, Billboard published an in-depth, behind-the-scenes feature examining the last three years of Chris Brown’s personal and professional life. Through new interviews with Brown’s former associates and inner circle, Billboard outlines the downward spiral that transformed one of the most successful male R&B singers of the past decade into one of the most troubled.
As Brown sets out on an arena tour and works to complete a long-gestating album – even as his ex-girlfriend files a restraining order against him – his former associates wonder how long he can last: “The kid is going to hit rock bottom.”
On working with Brown:
At a February 2016 Vanity Fair Italia shoot, a member of Brown’s team says he observed Brown snorting cocaine, which he was turning to more frequently. His moods became even more unpredictable. “We would ask, ‘What’s the temperature today?’ ” says a member of his security detail at the time. “You didn’t know how he was going to wake up. Were you going to get cool Chris? Or depressed or artsy and focused Chris, who would be very productive? Or the happy-go-lucky Chris, who would just joke around and have fun? It was a different person every day.”
On the ‘Grass Ain’t Greener’ video shoot:
After a chaotic August video shoot in which, according to a witness, Brown — who was flown through a forest outside Fresno, Calif., in a harness while wearing gold teeth and a purple ponytail — threatened a cameraman by saying his cousin would “knock his ass out,” then excused himself to the restroom where he was found two hours later, taking a nap.
On Brown’s obsession with Kerrueche Tran:
“He’s always on social media, looking up who Karrueche was with, what she was looking like, what club she was at, who posted to her Instagram.”
On spending habits:
“[He] spends money before he has it, whether it’s cars, jewelry or drugs,” says a former Brown team member. “He has no appreciation of it. He never wants to hear he has no money, and he blames everyone [else] when his funds run low.”
On Brown’s drug addition:
“He will cuss you out and say, ‘Hey, man, I’m functioning. I’m going to get the work out.’ And he does,” says a current member of Brown’s team. “But [he’s not] the first functional star who thinks they can handle those powerful drugs. I got to say with all my heart, he’s dancing with death.”
“Sober Chris is a solid guy with a big heart. High Chris and Chris coming off drugs is ungrateful, unappreciative and a foul person who most people don’t want to deal with,” says a close former associate. “Good Chris? You’ll fight for him. Unfortunately, the last couple of years, it has been drug Chris. That Chris is not a good dude.”
“You can talk to any drug addict or chemically imbalanced person — it doesn’t just go away,” says a former member of Brown’s inner circle. “It’s something you have to work on. You have to change your lifestyle. And he’s not doing the things he needs to do to get well, so he’s never going to be well. The kid is going to hit rock bottom.”
On Brown’s parenting:
Brown is “a great Instagram dad”
On firing management:
That member of Brown’s personal detail recalls Brown screaming at his recently hired tour manager, Nancy Ghosh, threatening to beat her up because she asked his cousin not to smoke marijuana on the managers’ bus. She quit that day…
“Once he did what he did to Mike G, there was no structure,” that former security team member says. “We had no manager telling us what to do or where we were going. He would make people sleep on the bus [instead of hotels] when he was mad at them. He was threatening people and cops. He was calling himself the devil.”
On Brown’s Good Morning America appearance:
[Fili] Stylz remembers walking toward the room with Brown. “He was so upset,” he recalls. “Out of love, he said, ‘Flii, don’t walk with me. I want to hit shit. I want to swing at everything around me.’ I didn’t want to go in the room. He could have knocked anybody out.”