R&B vet Carl Thomas has a long list of experiences in the music game. Ones that include an impromptu meeting of a young Chris Brown in front of a convenient store. “The first time that I met Chris, I was getting out of my truck in Fort Lee, New Jersey,” he recalls to Vixen. “I was going into a 7-Eleven, and Tina Davis gets out of her Range Rover and introduces this kid, ‘This is my new artist Chris’ [Laughs].
Since that day, Thomas has a been a fan of the “Run It” kid, keeping up with Breezy’s work and taking note of the young star’s undeniable comparisons to pop icon Michael Jackson–a direct descendent of James Brown.
In Chris’ most recent musical offering “Fine China,” the X crooner uses his falsetto and “The Way Make You Make Me Feel”-esque visuals as a dead giveaway of Jackson’s direct influences. “All I know is that when I’m in my car, it feels right,” Thomas says of CB’s new tune. “I’ve constantly told people that I felt that Chris was moving to a crossroad in his artistry. It’s a weird place between singing and rap. His music is somewhat of a statement for me.”
But beyond the Virgina native’s singing-slash-rapping and constant onstage cardio, the “Summer Rain” singer recognizes MJ-like similarities in other artists that he quickly cuts down. When asked about Beyoncé being this generation’s MJ, he says, “No, Beyoncé is not the Michael Jackson. She would be a cross between the Diana Ross and Liza Minnelli of our generation. That’s who she is, and she herself would agree with me.”
Is it the theatrics, perhaps?
“Beyoncé’s show is geared more toward Broadway. It’s way more showy. When Liza Minnelli did a show, she wanted to let you know every time where she came from. ‘I came from Broadway. Broadway made me.’ Her shows are a cross between a Broadway production and Las Vegas grandiose.”
No matter who the disciples of the late legend are, the King of Pop’s blueprint for artists today is indisputable. Thomas would agree that the current state of Brown’s resurgence has that thing that could take the almost-forgiven star into the musical stratosphere. Only time will tell. — Niki McGloster