When Chris Brown stormed the charts in late 2005 with “Run It!” he was a mere 16 years old. The combination of youth, talent, and success drew comparisons to Michael Jackson. His early love of hip hop was eventually supplanted by a natural affinity for singing.
Brown had moved from his hometown of Tappahannock, Virginia, to New York City in pursuit of his dream. A former Def Jam executive signed on as Brown's manager and they landed a deal with Jive Records who had launched the careers of Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears.
Heading into the studio to record his 2005 eponymous debut, Brown was surrounded by hit masters like Jermaine Dupri, Scott Storch, and Dre & Vidal with Storch reworking Usher's “Yeah!” into “Run It!” Two subsequent singles -- “Yo (Excuse Me Miss)” and “Say Goodbye” -- both made it into the Top 10, as well.
In 2007, Brown followed up with Exclusive. Putting a grittier edge on his music proved an effective tactic as Exclusive yielded a chart-topping single ("Kiss Kiss") along with two others that cracked the Top Five. Brown followed that up by partnering with Jordin Sparks for the “No Air” duet off her self-titled debut set. The cut also made the Top Five.
Brown's momentum hit the skids in 2009 when he was charged with a felony assault of then-girlfriend Rihanna. A number of radio stations pulled Brown's songs and the public, generally, came down on Rihanna's side of the incident.
After keeping a low profile for a while, Brown was back with Graffiti in December of that year lead by the Top 20 single “I Can Transform Ya.” Though it didn't even sell half a million copies, Graffiti earned a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary R&B Album. A second nod came for Brown's work with Tank on "Take My Time" which was nominated for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
On the side, Brown continued to pursue acting jobs, with appearances on The O.C. and other projects.
In the spring of 2011, Brown was back with F.A.M.E. which features cameso by Lil Wayne, Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, Justin Bieber, Wiz Khalifa, Timbaland, and others. Among the hit singles were "Yeah 3x," "Look at Me Now," and "Beautiful People."
A follow-up companion album, titled Fortune, is slated for an early 2012 release with “Strip” and “Biggest Fan” serving as the first two singles.