If you've avoided the news of Chris Brown and Drake's SoHo melee, congratulations. You'll need a primer for the purposes of this article, though, so here's what appears to have happened: the two performers were at a New York nightclub. Brown sent a bottle of champagne over to Drake's table. Words were exchanged and a fight eventually broke out. Bottles were thrown and struck one of Brown's body men and a young woman, the latter of whom was not partial to the actual fight. Brown also suffered a laceration on his chin.
Why did the fight break out? Nightclubs can be mysterious places, but the generally accepted account (thus far) has Chris Brown's people taunting Drake's until Meek Mill and some other people in Drake's entourage had enough and got heated. Drake's rep maintains that the rapper actually wasn't involved in the fight at all, but was just leaving the club when it broke out. Of course, that Drake and Chris Brown have one super-famous former lover (Rihanna) in common didn't help the rumor mill. (A "source close to Brown" told CNN that the two were not fighting over Rihanna.)
That the fight happened, and what both men have done since, is generally depressing. Neither singer/rapper is known for being especially "tough" (insofar as "tough" is synonymous with "intimidating," though Brown is obviously unstable and dangerous), and hip-hop, rap and R&B have evolved to a place where disagreements, while great for press, don't need to progress past lyrical jabs.
But there's a lesson in it for Brown. The short version: If you've beaten a woman in the past and ever want to near redemption, don't put yourself in positions that can lead to further violence. You will always lose.
Brown's tale is a sadder one than we sometimes like to remember, if only because he could have contributed meaningful performances to our culture. Though it goes without saying that no perpetrator of domestic abuse is deserving of pity, it is disheartening to see one of music's most talented men waste his life. This is a singer and dancer who was once compared to Michael Jackson (take that as you will), a radio hit-maker with an actual voice, complete with a fan base (#TeamBreezy) that rivaled Jackson's in its determination. (Team Breezy's disturbing reaction to the Rihanna incident would later remind us of Jackson's fans' inability to understand that their hero may have committed grave ills.)
And though he may never be "redeemed," he never really tempts us to try. Take this club fight, for example. Brown immediately tweeted irate messages and posted a Myspace-style photo of his cut chin. Of course, he later went back and deleted them (note to famous people: deleting tweets always looks stupid). Across the ring, Drake stayed quiet while his representative gave his side of the story to the Associated Press. Within hours, virtually every news outlet in the country had posted articles which either suggested Drake was not a part of the fight or focused in large part on Brown's bizarre tweets and photos.
Drake is no angel, either. He, Brown and Meek Mill had previously engaged in some downright chauvinistic tweets about Rihanna (Drake: "Oh that's your ho?"; Meek: "dese chicks belong 2 da game"). But Drake is forthcoming in interviews, makes music videos that take place at bar mitzvah's or are just made up of him and Rihanna hugging. And Drake hasn't brutally assaulted a woman.
There's also the problem of stakes: It doesn't really make sense that Drake would instigate the fight, because he doesn't have anything to prove. At 23, Brown is only two years younger than Drake, but even a quick glance at Brown's career and media presence belies a maturity gap that's inexcusable. Like it or not, Drake has been widely touted as a new voice in hip-hop, the ringleader of a new guard. Brown makes fun but immediately forgettable dance-pop songs. Maybe it's a role model issue (Drake constantly talks about his mom, Brown always talks about ... his haters), but plenty of other 23-year-olds have figured out how to stay out of trouble.
So, in short: Chris, if you ever want to be respected and/or taken seriously as an artist, stop walking around nightclubs shirtless, don't get in fights, and please, for the love of everything that's good, quit Twitter.