The debate over Chris Brown‘s continued acceptance–even celebration–in the music world has been raging for nearly a decade. Many believe that after seeing the gruesome photos of Rihanna’s face, which surfaced when Brown viciously attacked his former romantic partner in 2009, any self-respecting artist would never want to work with him. Over the years, he has had many chances to redeem himself, but ultimately has fallen short each time, leaving a slew of physical violence, outbursts, hateful comments, denials of responsibility, broken windows, and threats of beatings and murder in his wake.
Here at CE, we don’t normally care to cover these types of “she said-he said” pieces. For us, it’s about the music and our conscious consumption of said music in service of our human and spiritual well-being. But this is one that deserves focus and energy, which we feel ought to be channeled to raise awareness over Brown’s abusive past, and marshmello’s complicit support of such behaviors by choosing to work with a convicted abuser who shows zero remorse.
Chris Brown still has had no problem finding musicians and industry professionals who will turn a blind eye to the criminal allegations, his unrepentant statements, and destructive behavior. While as a society, we hope that musicians can aspire to make their craft reflect connection, positivity, and love, this is a stark reminder that for many artists, the motive behind their music is devoid of authentic values or message. Simply designed to be exploited as a vehicle for profit, music that features blatantly immoral, violent abusers comes at a high cost to basic human decency and detracts from potential enjoyment for any self-respecting music listener.
Mega-producer and DJ marshmello is the latest to overlook Brown’s horrific actions in favor of making a quick hit. Scottish band CHVRCHES, and fellow marshmello collaborators, have placed themselves squarely in the camp that believes Chris Brown has no place in the music industry, releasing a statement critical of marshmello for choosing to work with him.
Also in the crosshairs is rapper Tyga, who has frequently been accused of participating in an egregiously blatant sexual relationship with a then-underage Kylie Jenner, though no charges were ever filed. Additionally, he was forced to pay a $50K settlement to a woman who was sexually assaulted on the set of one of his music videos.
It’s almost as if marshmello was attempting to stir up controversy with this collaboration, though perhaps unsurprisingly, he has not commented on any of this yet. Lauren Mayberry, lead singer of CHVRCHES, has since received numerous death and rape threats from some Chris Brown and Tyga fans, as well as a slew of hateful messages, some of which she has posted online.
It appears the attitude of some of Brown’s fans mirrors his own, as he responded with a jaw-droppingly inappropriate and unrepentant reaction. He fired back on the comments of CHVRCHES’ Instagram post and called the band a “BUNCH OF LOSERS,” wishing that they “walked in front of a bus of speeding mental patients.” Tyga had a slightly less offensive comment claiming that “everyone makes mistakes,” though he also did not take the opportunity to issue any sort of apology.
Mayberry’s point is essentially being proven here. By continuing to work with Chris Brown, artists and producers normalize a culture of violence, denial of personal responsibility and downright horrible behavior. He has been allowed to return to the spotlight time and time again after continuously committing a host of egregiously violent and disrespectful acts. Legions of young fans learn early and often that any degree of capricious violence–no matter whether followed by a genuine apology or not–can be forgiven, forgotten, and aggressively hand-waved away, leading to this kind of reaction to Mayberry’s statements. In the music industry, there is a long list of gifted singers who could graciously occupy any guest feature with the same degree of musical talent that Chris Brown would bring to the table. Therefore, there is no excuse for marshmello or any other artist to continue to endorse him when the consequences are both so chilling and so clear-cut.
It’s baffling to think that any artist who cares about the integrity of their music would work with him, until you remember that he has 30 million followers on Twitter and still commands a massive loyal following. The answer becomes obvious: it’s that the integrity of the music is not what matters to artists like marshmello, it’s all about getting as much money and exposure as possible from each release. It’s a shame that collectively, music industry professionals don’t take up positions like Mayberry’s, instead opting for the almighty dollar over supporting artists with basic human decency. We applaud CHVRCHES for speaking out about the issue and for taking a stand against the continual endorsement of Chris Brown, a convicted abuser with a history of violence.