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Chris Brown talks Rihanna, his career, and his spot in the gossip columns

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Chris Brown has been the center of attention for everything but his music lately (with the exception of penning Rihanna’s latest single “Disturbia”). Be it his dancing, cuddling with RiRi at KFC, or out-swagging the next male artist, CB has remained a staple in the spotlight – for better or worse. However, we managed to catch up with Chris Brown while doing something not so gossip-worthy… THISDAY, Africa’s leading media source, raises awareness for African issues through its annual star-studded THISDAY Festival. This year’s Festival themed “Africa Rising” focused on finding “sustainable solutions” rather than the “problems” facing Africa. Now in its third year, THISDAY Festival has gone cross continental for the first time with events in Abuja, Lagos, Washington DC, and London.The global festival sets out to project positive images of Africa by showcasing the renaissance of Africa’s music, fashion and the arts alongside global artists. Chris Brown, who was one of the many artists on the THISDAY line up in Lagos, shares his not so vast knowledge of Nigeria, his career, identity, and working with none other than Michael Jackson.AllHipHop.com Alternatives: What made you want to get involved with the Africa Rising Festival; what do you know about Nigeria?Chris Brown: Well I was asked to do it last year, but was busy. They called again this year, and this time I could do it, so here I am. I’m not going to even lie. I don’t know anything about Nigeria. I just know what I do. AHHA: What have you heard about Lagos before you came?Chris Brown: I heard it was hood. I heard it was going to be full of guns and everything, but just like any other place, people have good stories and bad stories and exaggerated stories.

“I ain’t even trying no more. Like honestly, I’m not a groupie type of guy so I’ll wait for his call before I keep calling him. Anyway, he’s harder to get hold of than Jesus.” – on collaborating with MJ

AHHA: How do you define yourself as an African in terms of your descendents?Chris Brown: Well, it’s kind of hard because I’m made up of so many different cultures and races. I’m Native American – like my Grandfather is an Indian chief like you see in the films [makes Native American chief tribal calling gesture] – but my Dad is Black. I haven’t actually looked at my culture and into what tribe I’m actually from, and it’s something I would like to do, but right now at this point I’m busy with my music.AHHA: You wrote Rihanna’s new song “Disturbia.” Is that something you would like to do more of?Chris Brown: I’ve got a three guy writing crew called Graffiti Artists, and so most of the time when we write, we just have fun with it. So whatever type of concepts that we have, we just have fun and try to put it out in record. For obvious reasons it was fun writing “Disturbia.”AHHA: What does “Disturbia” actually mean?Chris Brown: A weird state of mind, that’s what “Disturbia” is. Just kind of-like weird.AHHA: At one point there was talk of you and Michael Jackson collaborating. Whatever happened to that? Is that still in the works?Chris Brown: Hopefully… You know he’s such a difficult person to get hold of, he’s busy and I’m busy. I reached out to him at one point and we spoke about it. So if he wants to do it, then I’m sure he’ll get in touch with my people.I ain’t even trying no more. Like honestly, I’m not a groupie type of guy so I’ll wait for his call before I keep calling him. Anyway, he’s harder to get hold of than Jesus. AHHA: So what about doing collaborations with someone more current like Ne-Yo or Usher?Chris Brown: Yeah that would be incredible. I think we would have fun. That’s definitely a possibility for the future. It would depend on the record and how they would want to do it.

“I think that now he’s given me that lee-way, now that he’s been gone for so long, I think it is time for me to come. At the same time I’ll still welcome him in and still want him to still do great and still do great records.” – on competition with Usher

AHHA: You, Ne-Yo and Rihanna all basically started up at the same time. It must be great that all have become successful…Chris Brown: It’s incredible, especially as we all started so young. For a while it seemed only artists over the age of twenty-three and up were breaking into the industry, and then we all came along. It’s a great thing, especially as even to this day we are all still doing a great job, and this is just the beginning. This is just a steppingstone for what we will achieve in the future.AHHA: R&B has recently taken a more Pop/dance driven route. Will we be seeing you go down that direction?Chris Brown: Most definitely… I am trying to be the next Michael Jackson, hopefully… You will definitely be hearing some more Pop-driven records from me. I want to be the Prince of Pop; I don’t want to say I’m the King. I hopefully can be the Prince.AHHA: Usher put out his album this year. What do you make of his comeback?Chris Brown: I think it’s cool. I think it’s dope. I think there’s still going to be room for me though. I think that now he’s given me that lee-way, now that he’s been gone for so long, I think it is time for me to come. At the same time I’ll still welcome him in and still want him to still do great and still do great records. So me and him are just going to be battling at the top of the charts for those records. AHHA: So who if any do you see as your competition?Chris Brown: Competition…Err, I think everybody is. At the end of the day, I think everybody is going to be competition. Friendly competition though, because everyone will be making a hot record. Everybody always comes with a hot record or dope record that becomes Number 1, so I’m just competing with everybody. But my Number 1 competition is myself.AHHA: Is it hard to deal with all the media interest into your personal life?Chris Brown: Not really. To be honest, I don’t really care. Like my personal life is my personal life. I don’t focus on negative things. I just focus on the positive.

“Like certain people in my fan club or whatever will be like, ‘Oh he’s Hollywood now,’ and this and that. I’m like, ‘No I’m not.’ It’s just that my records are doing well. I’m just a bigger artist.” – on some fans not accepting his success

AHHA: Ok but with the whole media spotlight, having a relationship can often be difficult to keep private. What’s your take on it? Like does it annoy you when people pry into your private life?Chris Brown: Always, always… Regardless if it’s an interview or anywhere… I think private life is called private life; it’s self-explanatory. So it’s supposed to be a private situation, but in this industry you can’t always think that you can have that because people are nosy. People want to get the juice on you; people want to know what’s going on. I find people won’t even ask me about my work or music anymore; it’s just about my private life.AHHA: So do you get bothered about the blogs/internet interest?Chris Brown: I don’t really read them. When I read them it’s just to laugh. I take it as a compliment; I must be important for them to even spend time talking about me. AHHA: Good Attitude. Normally the more famous a person gets, the less normal they feel. How do you stay grounded?Chris Brown: Well not me personally. I feel like the more famous, I get the more I want to show people that that’s not the case and that I’m still the same person. I think the people around you might change a little bit though because they think that you think that you’re bigger. AHHA: Is that what you’ve experienced?Chris Brown: Hmm. I would say to a certain extent, part of my fan base has. Like certain people in my fan club or whatever will be like, “Oh he’s Hollywood now,” and this and that. I’m like, “No I’m not.” It’s just that my records are doing well. I’m just a bigger artist. I’m not saying there’s nothing changed about me, and I’m still doing the same things but I haven’t changed as a person.AHHA: You were a part of the Jay-Z/Roc-A-Wear clothing “I Will Not Lose” campaign. How did that come about?Chris Brown: I was asked to be a part of the campaign before doing my US tour. They worked with us on our tour; sending over merchandise and other bits so we had a working relationship. I think it was a good campaign to be a part of – not just because of the various other celebrities involved, but just because of the message behind it.

“I think private life is called private life; it’s self-explanatory. So it’s supposed to be a private situation, but in this industry you can’t always think that you can have that because people are nosy.” – on his love life

AHHA: What is your relationship like with Jay-Z?Chris Brown: If I see him, I say what up. I have a cordial relationship with him. We haven’t got any real friendship or anything. Like we have never hung out or anything. AHHA: Do you have any other fashion endorsements?Chris Brown: Some of the deals I will be doing are being negotiated right now and because I’m a businessman, so I’m not going to say yet. [laughs]AHHA: Who are you’re favorite designers?Chris Brown: Certain people make different things. I like the fit of Levi’s jeans and I wear more skinny jeans like skateboarder jeans. Sneakers are always Nike, Adidas, Jordans. Designer-wise I like Dolce, Gucci, Luis Vuitton, everything. AHHA: Is it true you support Barack Obama?Chris Brown: I have met Obama, and I think he’s a great person, but I don’t get into politics.AHHA: Fair enough. So music wise are you working on a new album?Chris Brown: Yeah we started on the new album maybe like – s**t when was it – we started on the new album maybe November-ish. Like I been starting on writing some stuff, but we haven’t really started all the way. AHHA: So finally what does the future hold for Chris Brown?Chris Brown: In the future, a little bit of everything. More albums, more films, more video directing, touring, writing, fashion…everything. Expect a little bit of everything. As much as possible…and just having fun.

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