"Chris is just coming out of the shower, so we'll call you back in a couple of minutes." There's no doubt that many young females (as well as older ones, as you'll read below) would give anything to hear Chris Brown's assistant say those words.
Bursting out of Tappahannock, Va., three years ago as a wide-eyed newcomer, Brown has rapidly morphed into a pop and R&B tower of power with a screaming fan base to match. Still riding high on the success of his 2007 sophomore Jive set "Exclusive," which has sold 1.9 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, the singer/songwriter and dancer/actor is wrapping up a banner 2008.
Not only did he snare two more Grammy Award nominations -- best pop collaboration (with Jordin Sparks on "No Air") and best male R&B vocal ("Take You Down") -- he emerges as Billboard's top pop artist of the year (see story, page 48). Brown chatted with Billboard about preparing his next album, what he's learned and how much he truly appreciates all those screaming fans.
Why does "Exclusive" have so much staying power?.
Because of the potential of the songs on the album and the collaborations. When I was recording the album, there were certain people I wanted to work with. I got Kanye West to do "Down." I also got to work with the Game, Lil Wayne and T-Pain. I had a great chance to do something in a different creative forum.
The reissued version of the album includes the hit "Forever." What was the inspiration for that?
I wasn't even planning on doing "Forever" for the repackage; it was going to be on my next album. But then I decided I wasn't ready to release a new album yet. So we gave the fans the rerelease with four new songs. The original inspiration for the song was to just make a dance record, a European kind of record that everybody all over the world could listen to. It turned out to be one of those big explosions.
Care to reveal any potential collaborations you're considering?
Right now, there's really nothing in the works. I'm going to take it one step at a time. We just put out another single, "Superhuman," with Keri Hilson. So we're going to ride that out and let "Exclusive" die down. Then I'm going to go away for a little while so people won't get tired of me [laughs]. After that I'll come back and give them some bangers.
Can we at least expect a duet from you and your girlfriend, Rihanna, on your next album?
Of course. I actually have a couple of songs written already that would be dope collaborations between me and her. And I'm writing for her new album now.
Click here to read the full Billboard Q&A with artist of the year Chris Brown.