Chris Brown has a lot in common with most teenagers his age: He enjoys playing basketball, hanging out with his friends and, oh yeah, dropping an album that goes platinum within months of its release.
As soon as Brown unleashed his debut single, the electro-r&b jam "Run It" in November 2005, the song became a phenomenon, hitting No. 1 across the Billboard Hot 100, Pop 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks charts.
Overnight, he became a darling of both critics and fans, with his cute mug appearing not just in untold lockers across America's schools, but in Teen People, Vibe, Billboard, Rolling Stone, USA Today, 106 and Park and Regis & Kelly. Each outlet, it seemed, heaped on more praise than the next, calling Chris "the future of r&b" and "the next Usher."
Follow-up singles "Gimme That" and "Yo" bolstered his appeal, and Brown's' self-titled debut had gone platinum by January.
Brown became one of the few black artists who instantly snatches a fan base of r&b devotees and mainstream listeners, plus goes on to headline a tour on the strength of one album. It's all a major achievement for a 16-year-old, but a bigger one for a kid from Tappahannock, Va., a town with a population of 2,000.
For all his unbelievable success, he is being guarded against the dangers of having too much, too soon. His mother, Joyce Hawkins, goes with him everywhere, including tour stops. On nights preceding performances, Mom is quick to lay down a curfew. So even with a million albums sold, Chris Brown is very much like other teens, indeed.