More than the winners, the highlight of this year's American Music Awards (AMAs) was yet another Chris Brown controversy. After Kelly Rowland announced that Brown won the AMA for Best R&B artist (Male), booing from the audience could be heard until Rowland asked the spectators to 'chill out'.
(Trigger warning: This story contains mentions of domestic assault, racism, and profanity)
Why was Chris Brown not present at the ceremony? On November 21, popstar and R&B singer Brown was expected to perform a Michael Jackson tribute on the ocassion of Thriller’s 40th anniversary. But when the singer’s performance was cancelled for unknown reasons, he decided to not show up at the ceremony.
Just a few days ago, Brown had uploaded a video of the performance’s rehearsal with the caption, “U serious?” In the comments, he added, “WOULD'VE been the ama performance but they cancelled me for reasons unknown.”
Enter Kelly Rowland: The Destiny’s Child alumna seemed to be disappointed with the audience’s reaction as soon as she announced Brown as the winner in his category. Accepting the award on his behalf, she addressed the jeering crowds,
Why did the audience boo though? It is highly probable that the audience didn’t appreciate Brown’s win given his controversial past.
A major downfall in the R&B singer’s career was in 2009 when he pleaded guilty in a domestic abuse case, turning himself in to the authorities after assaulting his then-girlfriend Rihanna. Visuals of Rihanna’s severe facial injuries were circulated in mainstream media, strengthening the negative PR against Brown.
Finally, Brown pleaded guilty to a felony and accepted a plea deal of community labour, five years of probation, and domestic violence counselling. Brown received five years of probation in August 2009, ordered by the court to attend one year of domestic violence counselling and undergo six months of community service. Brown also received a five-year restraining order on Brown, which required him to remain 50 yards away from Rihanna.
A hit-and-run case, false sexual assault allegations (Brown is still suing the women involved for defamation), and violent altercations with the entourage of artists such as Frank Ocean and Drake also marred his career further. His actions against Rihanna continue to be criticised by people even though his stardom is still not affected as is evident from his AMA win.
The Internet weighs in: Roland’s support for Brown is being criticised by some who find her to be defending an assaulter in this process. Others believe that Rowland shouldn’t be criticised as Brown has apologised for his past actions while even pushing the “separate the art from the artist” philosophy.
Shame on Kelly Rowland for supporting an abuser— d #FireCashman (@someyanksfan) November 21, 2022
Not only has Brown had run-ins with the law, he is also criticised for being colourist with women, alleging that he prefers to keep “dark-skinned black women” away from his VIP section at nightclubs.
In 2019, Brown’s song Need A Stack garnered controversy for Brown’s “preference”, especially the lyric “Only wanna f**k the Black b*****s with the nice hair.”
Chris Brown is colourist toward women with Kelly Rowland’s skin-tone— Karabo Parkins (@KaraboParkins) November 21, 2022
When black women collectives began to critically analyse his views and lyrics, Brown clapped back with fiery responses. For instance, when the collective “blackgirlsareit” posted on Instagram, “Never will I discriminate against my own kind”, Brown commented,
y’all agree with Kelly Rowland over a million things but get mad and wanna drag her because she doesn’t feel the same way you do ON ONE THING???? shut up.— AMERICA’S PROBLEM (@FUCCl) November 21, 2022
Put this in the present context, some black Twitter users are pointing out how Brown has been racist towards women of Kelly Rowland’s skin tone. But then again, as mentioned earlier, Rowland has also got some supporters who believe that her support for Brown is her personal opinion.