There are seven men in the living room, a sedentary but easygoing entourage. Skylar “Skywlkr” Tait, the 22-year-old Brown calls his “official whistle producer,” lies on the carpet, an iPad his parents gave him for Christmas in one hand and a bottle of A&W cream soda in the other. “The best pop,” he says, a Midwesternly sentiment he immediately posts to Twitter. Brown’s oldest friend, Vince “Tripleblack” Huff, a rapper with a Barry White voice and a song called “Pussy Fartin’,” has folded himself into a rattan chair. A very big man in a matching heather grey Everlast sweatpant suit passes a 40-ounce bottle of Miller High Life to a small man in loafers who resembles a Rain Man-era Tom Cruise. No one has anywhere they need to be, including Brown, and they’ve got nothing to do but watch 45-minute long rap battles on YouTube, talk unending heaps of shit and beat each other in NBA 2K12 on Xbox. Brown swivels on his cheapish office chair. “I wrote XXX right here, point blank,” he says. His legs are tired from a morning jog, an exhaustion he announces more than once, proudly.
He pulls a baseball cap on and off, exposing his unruly frizz so he resembles a black, toothless Einstein. His hairdo is asymmetrical, shaved to the scalp on the right side but long everywhere else, parted severely down over his left temple, and with a long and narrow V-shape cut into the back, odd from every angle. Brown loves the way he looks. Despite the recent album accolades, the year-end list he’s most proud of making is Complex’s “25 Most Stylish Celebrities of 2011.” When Brown was a child, his father—a house DJ who was only 16 when Brown was born—always outfitted him in the latest styles, stuff you couldn’t find without traveling to suburban malls. When Brown asked for “Jodeci boots” from Payless to fit in at school, his dad bought him hundred-dollar Timberlands. “He would not allow me to be corny,” Brown says. In high school he’d show up late for class just so everyone could see his outfit, stolen from the back of his grandmother’s dry cleaner. Now he’s wearing oversized blue-and-white sneakers with miniature New York license plates on the tongues. His favorite coat isn’t the black Moncler but a tiger-striped half-tuxedo, half-track jacket with little cat ears sewn onto the hood. The hair, the shoes, the jacket—it’s funny, or at least it provokes funny insults from others, which seems like half the point. His Twitter feed is a constant retweet of fans praising of his skill but befuddled by his look. That he’s able to provoke so many rap purists to begrudgingly love a man in skinny jeans is a mark of his unique skill.