Chris Brown may be the hottest thing in hip hop and R&B right now but like Skrillex and Dave Grohl, his roots are in punk and hardcore (and thrash). After the booming viral success of our last interview, we sat down with him again to discuss his feelings on the founders of anarcho-punk.
Street Carnage: You a big Crass fan?
Chris Brown: You know this ain’t a Crass hoodie, right?
Yeah I get it.
It’s just like, a shout out to they logo.
I know Chris, I’m just asking.
All right, all right. I ain’t trippin’. Just wanted to make sure because if you know Crass, you know how they are with all they rules and shit. You gotta watch it with those cranky old anarchists (laughs). They got a lot of rules about not having rules!
Again, are you a fan?
Sorry (laughs). Of course I’m a fan. Actually…hold up. You wouldn’t really say that about Crass. They don’t really do “fans,” if you will. They one of those rare artists that don’t want you to be they fans. They a mirror. They say, “It’s about you.”
I’m not sure I follow you.
This was way before my time but I remember hearing a story about this shorty who wanted to get [Crass drummer and founder] Penny [Rimbaud]’s autograph on some 7” and Pen goes, “What’s your name?” The kid tells him his name and Penny holds the kid’s hand with the marker still in it and writes the kid’s name on the record. When I heard that, I was buggin’ out. I was like, “What?” That one act says mad shit about them.
What’s the biggest misunderstanding about Crass?
Hold on, hold on. I ain’t finished. That’s what Crass was all about. You being you. If you a nerd and shit, be a nerd. Don’t let anyone tell you how to be. You think it was easy for me growing up in the hood as a black kid into punk rock? In fucking Virginia (laughs)? Crass made niggas keep it real. You know, “If you don’t like religion/you can be the antichrist/If you’re tired of politics, you can be an anarchist.”
That’s why Penny called himself Rimbaud. He’s an existentialist. If a black kid from Virginia can hang out in the pit and mosh, and then take over the charts like I be doing right now, anyone can.
I get that, I guess, but I think you’re basically who you are from birth.
Yo, I feel that. I feel that. Identical twins separated at birth turn out the same and shit and gays is “born that way” as Gaga says. How about this? Check this: Even if you ain’t down with the existentialists, he could be saying, “If you meant to be a dancer but you in a cubicle crunching numbers, get out.” You feel me? You don’t have to change who you is. You have to be who you are.
That’s a good point. Existentialists say anyone can be anything and you can change your destiny, but Crass’s lyrics are also relevant to people who have been forced into to something they weren’t destined to do.
Yo, we getting mad serious. You trying to put everyone to sleep? What was you asking about “misunderstanding?”
What people get wrong about the band’s message.
Oh yeah, oh yeah! OK, on some real shit? I think the problem with a lot of the people who talk about Crass is a lot of these niggas hate big business so much, they end up being pro-government. And I’m sorry, that ain’t “ANOK” to me.
You got all these “socialist anarchists” who think Crass is just a mad loud version of Billy Bragg or some shit. Crass don’t hate money makin’. They hate the government. They more like Big Boi than Bragg.
Big Boi is an anarchist?
Ha! Not quite but he libertarian. You know that nigga voted for Gary Johnson?
I did not know that.
Yeah, and that’s who Penny Rimbaud would probably vote for if he gave a shit. He want the nigga that’s going to do the least politickin’. Look at what Crass did with they logo and shit. They never made shirts. “Take our logo. Make your own shirts. Go for it.” What did they say about Marx? “Their ideas of freedom are just oppression now.”
I find it hard to believe Penny Rimbaud is into big business.
I’m telling you. I wouldn’t be surprised if he did a Gap ad right now.
Are you completely out of your mind?
(laughs) Well, I don’t know the Gap or how they operate. But if they don’t got sweatshops and shit? Yeah! He’d do it. He’s pro gun too. You know that?
I refuse to believe that.
See? That’s what people don’t get. Crass was about you doing you. You think they want the police to be the only people with authority? Hells nah. “There is no authority but yourself.”
I know [bass player] Pete Wright hates guns and big business.
And how’d things turn out with him and the rest of the band, huh?
That’s because that nigga is a fucking communist! Check this out, “Be exactly who you want to be/do what you want to do/I am he and she is she but you’re the only you.” Communism is the opposite of individualism. It says we all one. I ain’t you. You don’t even know me. How you gonna talk to me like you know me? You don’t!
When I was coming up, all this shit was “anarcho punk” but today, as a grown ass man, it’s closer to “libertarian.”
So you’re a libertarian?
What? You trippin? I voted for Obama, nigga. He the man!