Since pictures of Rihanna, with a black eye, surfaced just before the 2009 Grammy Awards, fans have been divided into “Team Chris” and “Team Rihanna.” And while the restraining order and charges against Chris Brown strained fan relations over the years, a recent musical collaboration between the two left both sides confused. In an attempt to set her fans at ease, Rihanna finally broke her silence on their new working relationship.
“I reached out to him about doing ‘Birthday Cake’ because that’s the only person that really made sense to do the record,” Rolling Stone reports. “I thought about rappers, and I’ve done that so many times, and the hottest R&B artist out right now is Chris Brown. So I wanted him on the track.”
In an attempt at fan reconciliation, Rihanna and Brown reunited and traded vocals for tracks on each other’s albums. Brown rapped on Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake,” which appeared on her 2011 release Talk That Talk, while Rihanna remixed his track “Turn Up the Music” from his upcoming LP Fortune.
“It was a trade off,” Rihanna said. “We did two records. One for my fans. One for his fans, and that way our fans can come together. There shouldn’t be a divide. You know? It’s music, and it’s innocent,” she added.
The news of their recent musical connection took many by surprise. The news hit just weeks after the 2012 Grammy Awards, where Brown made headlines with two performances and a Grammy win for Best R&B Album for F.A.M.E.
Afterward, several musicians including Miranda Lambert and Michelle Branch took to Twitter to voice their opinions.
Not cool that we act like that didn’t happen. He needs to listen to Gunpowder and lead and be put back in his place. Not at the Grammys.
— Miranda Lambert (@Miranda_Lambert) February 13, 2012
Trying not to go off on a rant but…Chris Brown…*bites tongue* have we forgiven him? #Grammys
— Michelle Branch (@michellebranch) February 13, 2012
The musical union inspired twitter reactions from fans and responses from other artists as well. Annie Lennox told the Telegraph that Rihanna could become a “tremendous spokesperson” if she spoke out against domestic violence and discussed her experience.
“Here is a young woman who has been through domestic violence and she could become a tremendous spokesperson for that issue but the choice is hers,” Lennox said. “It’s not up to anybody else to do that.”
Melanie Fiona added that our opinions on the situation are irrelevant.
“I think that from a music standpoint, they’re doing what they want to do, they don’t give a damn what anybody has to say,” she said. “So it pretty much doesn’t matter what I have to say because they don’t care. To each is own. Everybody is going to have an opinion about everything. They don’t care about anybody’s opinion, so rock on guys.”
-Jodi Phillips, Kiss 95.1 with additional reporting by Annie Reuter