Chris Brown: When Fame Snatches Your Freedom — by Russell Simmons

For over twenty-five years, I have had the privilege to watch some the greatest living artists create the most powerful cultural movement that America has ever seen.   I saw Run-DMC sell out Madison Square Garden, the Beastie Boys get licensed to ill, DMX release three #1 albums in a row, LL Cool J rock the bells, Kanye West artistically push his generation to a new level, Diddy pave the way for a new wave of urban entrepreneurship…and those are to name just a few artists who went through a period of tremendous personal struggle after achieving their “dreams.”  I have worked everyday of my adult life to uplift the potential of the artist, who I believe has the greatest potential of uplifting the generation.  It is the artist that breathes clarity into a world that is full of clutter. And today, now more than ever, the world is very cluttered.

On Tuesday night, I sat with Chris Brown, one of the greatest performing artists of his time, during his celebration dinner for the release of his new album, F.A.M.E. I know that this young man’s dancing, singing and art are his prayers.  Without them, he’s left to deal with a cluttered world in a way that is far too complicated than he imagined when he was a thirteen-year-old kid with a dream of being famous. I am troubled by the people, critics and members of the media who drag Chris away from his art.  His freedom is deeply rooted in his artistic expression. It is during those seconds of stillness when you’re dancing that the Christ/Buddha/Allah/Moses inside of you is awakened and comes to power. This is the freedom Chris knew as a child, but as he rose to fame, finding freedom became a lot more complicated.  Coming back home is a very difficult thing.  Coming back to being normal, coming back to that pure place of artistry.  But, when fame snatches your freedom, the ability to control your own life becomes much more difficult.


And when you become famous, you are told and think that happiness will be found by buying more toys and spending more money on things you know you don’t need.  There’s nothing in the outside world that’ll make you happy. It’s written in every scripture over and over again. The only happiness comes from inside. And NO ONE can look deeper inside than the artist, cause you’re working on the inside because you’re lucky enough to see a piece of god in your dancing, a piece of god in your presence, through your songwriting and singing and all your artistic expression. And you get a glimpse of god and goodness and happiness which is all that’s inside you. However, you are being pulled away and you lose the perspective that the inside is all happiness, because the outside pulls you to work on the album’s marketing and promotion, the business deals, the corporate dinners, the groupies, the rest of the world.


I am reminded of my brother Rev. Run’s sermon that he tells every time about his breakdown.  He was sitting in the bathtub getting his hair cut while he was smoking a joint while he was eating pancakes. And hair was falling in the pancakes and ashes from the joint were falling in the pancakes and the syrup was falling in the tub and he was waiting for the phone to ring from some girl he had met on the road.  And he had a brand new Rolls Royce delivered to front of the hotel he was staying in, waiting for him to drive away. Had he been writing a song during that time he’d be okay, but he wasn’t. The things were there, but people were forcing him to deal with the outside when the outside was nothing but sickness. Because the outside is noise and the inside is the spirit.

So, you end up eating pancakes in the bathtub. That’s all it’s worth to you. Eat pancakes in the bathtub, get your hair cut while you smoke a joint and wait for the phone to ring for some girl, some groupie that might show up. It’s a lot. And all the things you think you want, make you sick.  People always want to say “well you got all that money and shit!” you “should” be happy.  But, the mistake is to believe that money’s gonna make you happy. Most of the people reading this blog wish they had all these things that the artists have. Almost every one of you would have trouble dealing with them as well. Because you too, think you need these things. But, I am here to tell you, the more you get the more you need. And yet, all scriptures remind you neediness is the cause of suffering.


And Chris is suffering from the same thing as almost every young star has gone through, including the Disney kids.  And, having lost control, some of these young artists, sometimes, do an unspeakable thing at a moment of time.  And they pay the price.  But, as I and my team have said repeatedly on my site,  what’s not fair is artists paying the price of the sins in their young lives for the rest of their lives.  Again, and again, and again.  That’s just not fair.  If we insisted on that there would be no art. There would be only shame; there would be no learning, no redemption, there would be no road for millions of fans to travel the journey of the artist to enlightenment.  It would negate the very purpose of art itself which is to reconcile, through a redeeming journey, the intractable contradictions in life and society.  This is something I have fought for all my life. And, you know, Disney kids are allowed a little bit more of a break. Sometimes you have to even feel sorry for them. Not that the media didn’t continue to drive Britney Spears freakin’ crazy. Not that the media doesn’t mess with Miley Cyrus every day.  Not that the media doesn’t stalk Lindsay Lohan.  I’m just saying, give this man a break. I spoke to him last night for a long time and I know how good of a young man he is.  He’s having the same type of struggles that all those other Disney kids have and all the other people who have instant fame… And because of that one regretful incident, no one will give him a break.  You can give them media coaches, but can you give them life coaches? A media coach is great, but a life coach is what he’s in need of.   And my heart and my office door is always open to him.



If only the hateful and non-forgiving people in this world would think like this, it would be a better place. Let Chris live!


12 thoughts on “Chris Brown: When Fame Snatches Your Freedom — by Russell Simmons”

  1. no one could have said it better…only mr sims can, good luck chris teambreezy all day life is about the journey it’s also about for forgive so from human to another u r fogiven just try to live now.

  2. Excellent article. I too wonder why the media gives CB so much grief. Yes, he did a bad thing but ‘let he who is without sin cast the first stone’. I don’t get how people who probably never even heard of CB prior to the Rihanna incident can be so mean and hateful. I wonder how many of these hateful people, since they are so appalled at what CB did, have any of them volunteered at a domestic abuse shelter, dontated to a homeless shelter or did anything good to better the world ; or, have they just sat behind a computer, anonymously, and write hateful things about a person and a situation they have nothing to do with? If I could say anything to CB it would be to keep your head up; don’t let them get the best of you; when they talk negative you do something positive. NEVER, EVER let what they say or do affect you to the point where you risk your career. Also, get yourself a mentor or someone who you can speak with when it all becomes to much. Love you Chris and love your music. Hope I can meet you one day as I live in VA only 2 hrs away from you :).

  3. 4.8 million women in the US are a target of intimate partner violence; 2.9 million men are victims of intimate partner violence in the US each year. Intimate partner violence costs the US 8.3 billion dollars a year in medical costs, therapy, lost productivity from work (2003 figures and likely much higher as it escalates in times of economic uncertainty.) Domestic violence occurs in 30-40% of intimate relationships with straight couples during the span of their relationships, and that figure is likely slightly on the higher end in gay couples, which often times goes grossly under reported. People who engage in violence in their relationships are our neighbors, our friends, our family members. Vilifying people for their flaws only perpetuates further violence.

    John Lennon was abusive to Cynthia Lennon at one time in their relationship. Paul McCartney was accused by Heather Mills of doing the same. Frank Sinatra was known to be frequently violent in his relationships. Elvis Presley began having sex with Priscilla when she was 14 years old, which technically classifies him as a pedophile, a sexual form of domestic abuse. Johnny Cash was known to have been physically violent to June Carter. James Brown was known to batter several of his women. And its not just men: Hillary Clinton has been accused by biographers in the past of attacking Bill. Humphrey Bogarts wife as well. Liza Minnelli has been accused of attacking David Gest. Mary Todd Lincoln was known to be physically abusive to Abe Lincoln. Christian Slater and his wife have also been known to have violent episodes with one another. Greg Louganis was known to have been a victim of intimate partner abuse. Joe Elliott (from Def Leppard) and his wife were both arrested for beating the crap out of each other. Anthony Michael Hall, Tiger Woods, Urkel, Rick Springfield, Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, Eminem and his wife, Ron Wood (Stones), Phil Hartmann (murdered by his wife), Evil Kneival, Harry Morgan (M*A*S*H), Riddick Bowe, Mike Tyson and Robin Givens, Bill Murray, Richard Pryor, Paul Anka and his wife, Sean Penn (he allegedly abused Madonna), Jackson Browne (he allegedly abused Daryll Hannah) , Dennis Hopper, Josh Brolin (he allegedly abused Diane Lane), Gary Coleman, Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, Kim Kardashian and Britney Spears (both victims), and the list goes on and on.

    Violence is a human condition. Our insatiable appetite for people’s darkness is a feast of fools. Chris Brown is a good man who is learning to heal from the scars of violence in his home. He is one of the most talented and prolific artists of his generation. I have fully supported Chris throughout his career and I continue to be proud of him; he will continue to learn from his mistakes. Many of his have difficulty admitting our personal failings, let alone having to answer to them endlessly on national television to millions of people time after time.

    1. Your research was wonderfully presented !! We’re suffering from a LOVE DEFICIENCY in this world of ours. If WE don’t DO SOMETHING we will positivly DIE !!!!!!!

  4. What a wonderful Article, and honestly Chris Brown has learnt from his mistakes and he will continue to do so for the rest of his live, But this young man Deserves a break, I dont understand why will people be so Angry at him……He has done his time and trying to move on and leave his life with the new found self respect for himself and the world, Yet peolpe are depriving him from doing so, Com on he has admitted his mistake and Apologise, and rebuilt his image for the past 2 years………….He needs to be left alone and leave his life…….He carries on foung peace within himslef with his music, He’s not doing Drugs, Doing all kind of Funny stuff, but he is making his Music and people are trying to take that away from him, Honestly all the Haters need to look at themself, it all Jealousy now, nothing against the Artist, You Lot are plan down JEALOUS of this YOUNG TALENTED GIFTED MAN……..You the ones need help and you need to look within yourselfs for Comfort………………Russell Thank you soooooo Much for bringin the Light in this Angry World of today’

  5. Chris brown is amazing is great guy ever we don,t want him to leave his music and every other thing he do we love him we will support him everyday we don,t care about all the shit people talking about him, Rhianna she daub bitch she don,t even know what the hell she doing she just a stupid ugly bitch who care about her no body like her only stupid people does like jay z and all the other daub people jay z his too damn ugly shit he look like dog shit, Chris brown his so hot so cool so nice and sexy yeah, if you hate c b fuck you you daub ugly ass, if you love c b God bless you

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