Another rising R&B star has failed to read the room regarding well-known abuser Chris Brown.
On Thursday, singer Chlöe Bailey, who performs under the mononym Chlöe, announced the second single from her hotly anticipated debut album, In Pieces. The track, “How Does It Feel,” features none other than the controversial musician, who’s seen on the cover art holding Bailey in a tight embrace as they stare seductively into each other’s eyes.
Both the image and the song’s title suggest that the collaboration—which ostensibly will come alongside a music video—will be pretty steamy, if not sexually charged. Unfortunately for Bailey, her fans and others on Twitter were less than psyched to see her cozy up with Brown.
Backlash aimed at artists who have either supported or worked with Brown is a recurring phenomenon online—mainly because celebrities just can’t stop associating themselves with him. Last year, Kelly Rowland was criticized for defending the “Run It” singer at the American Music Awards when she tried to shush the audience after they started booing him. Rowland later said regarding the incident, “We all need to be forgiven for anything that we could be doing—we all come up short in some sort of way. Grace is real, and we are humans, and everybody deserves grace, period.”
Earlier last year, former Fifth Harmony member Normani was dragged on Twitter for her cameo in Brown’s music video for the song “WE (Warm Embrace).” Lizzo faced similar scrutiny for calling Brown her “favorite person in the whole fucking world” in a widely circulated video.
Defenders of Brown will often point to his highly publicized domestic abuse case with ex-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009 as his only discretion (only, as if it’s a minor one). But if you’ve followed Brown’s public antics over the past decade, you know that his list of controversies and abuse allegations are longer than a CVS receipt.
Actress Karrueche Tran obtained a five-year restraining order against Brown in 2017 after he threatened to “kill” her. A year earlier, a woman alleged that the singer had threatened her with a gun. He also publicly mocked singer Kehlani for her suicide attempt. In 2019, a woman accused Brown of raping her in a Paris hotel. In 2021, he was a suspect in a battery probe after a woman claimed he struck her so hard that her hair extensions fell out. And just last year, another woman filed a civil suit against Brown for allegedly raping her on a yacht.
Most recently—but less seriously—Brown threw a tantrum on Instagram after losing the Grammy for Best R&B Album to notable pianist Robert Glasper and later gave a shitty apology.
All of this to say, unless you’re Drake and earn No. 1 singles in your sleep, working with Brown has proven to be a thankless endeavor. For Bailey, in particular, it’s maybe not the best time to be stirring up controversy; in addition to a new album in March, the 24-year-old Beyoncé protégé is co-starring in Donald Glover’s buzzy show Swarm, premiering at SXSW next month.
If reactions to her and Breezy’s link-up are already this intense, it’ll be interesting to see what happens once the song (and, most likely, a music video) are actually released next Friday.