Now that Chris Brown has apologized (in his own way) for dismissing Robert Glasper’s Best R&B Album win, I hope he calls up Glasper and tries to get in the studio with him
OPINION: I actually believe that Chris Brown and Robert Glasper could make some amazing music together.
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
Admittedly, when news broke that Chris Brown had digitally flipped out via social media about his loss to Robert Glasper for Best R&B Album at the 65th Grammy Awards, I thought it was a joke. For starters, I didn’t realize Chris Brown cared about such things, though I don’t know him personally, so I’m not sure where that notion came from. I also didn’t realize that Brown had only one Grammy win ever, something that surprised me since Chris Brown, for better or worse, has made some really good music over the years.
But also, I mean, Robert Glasper kind of, ya know, does this. He recently won the award for his “Black Radio III” album—he also won for Best R&B song for “Better Than I Imagined” featuring H.E.R. and Meshell N’degeocello—but he also won the same award for his first installment, “Black Radio” and was nominated for “Black Radio II.” Makes you wonder if Chris Brown even looked at the nominees in this category that he was so upset to lose; I wonder if he didn’t just think that the award was his to lose. Turns out, he was right.
And because Chris Brown has been known to Chris Brown on occasion, he let off some shots on Instagram, first antagonistically questioning, and I’m offering a summation here, of just who in the CENSORED is Robert Glasper?, and then jokingly saying he needs to get his skills up and become Harmonica Brown. Well, Mr. Brown was subsequently served up on a platter via social media; a vast many people let Chris Brown know that if he doesn’t know who Robert Glasper is, he’s the problem, not Glasper. Eventually, Chris Brown apologized to Robert via Instagram DM — which was nice — pointing out that he took out his frustrations on the wrong person but also doesn’t think they should be nominated in the same category. Kumbaya, my lord … kumbaya.
There are a few things of note here in this entire debacle. For starters, I’m not at all surprised that Chris Brown doesn’t know who Robert Glasper is. While Glasper is a very popular artist among a certain demographic, I know people in my own life who aren’t familiar with his work … by name. I say by name because if you listen to Black music nowadays, there’s a really, really good chance that you’ve listened to work by Robert Glasper — he’s worked with so many artists at this point that I found I originally thought Chris Brown was joking. Glasper scored the Issa Rae film, “The Photograph” and worked on Kendrick Lamar’s album “To Pimp a Butterfly,” which I’m about 100% sure Chris Brown is familiar with. Point is, without going too deep, Glasper is kind of a big deal, just maybe not in the is-it-rap-is-it-R&B world that Chris Brown lives in — which is OK; I literally had never heard Steve Lacy’s song “Bad Habit” until he performed it at the Grammys, and this song has over half a BILLION streams on Spotify alone. Everybody doesn’t know everything. But you can’t be a d-bag about losing to a person you aren’t familiar with; maybe that’s why you lost.
Which brings me here: Now that Chris Brown knows who he is (and alleges that he checked out some of his music), perhaps Chris needs to holler at Glasper and see if he can get in the studio with him. As a point of note, there are several songs on “Black Radio III” that would have been amazing with Chris Brown on them. For instance, the song “Over” featuring Yebba is great. I feel like the addition of Chris Brown would have taken that song to the next level. Same with the song “Heaven’s Here” with Ant Clemons and the album closer “Bright Lights” with Ty Dolla $ign. Those three songs sound like the kind of songs Chris Brown would get loose on. One of Glasper’s strong suits is just how versatile his music is, Chris Brown wouldn’t be lost or out of place in that universe. Like, there’s no way that Chris Brown could listen to “Black Radio III” and NOT want to hop on some of those songs.
In fact, a Chris Brown album produced by Robert Glasper would be quite the listening experience, I believe. It could signal a creative pivot — even if only short-lived — for Brown that would likely lead him down that road to that Grammy he apparently covets. Stranger musical marriages have occurred, and this one actually makes sense on paper and sonically. So here’s hoping that Chris Brown both apologized AND tried to pick up the phone to see if they can make some magic.
Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest), but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said: “Unknown” (Blackest).
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