Five Burning Questions: Chris Brown and Young Thug’s ‘Go Crazy’ Jumps to No. 3 on the Hot 100

Five Burning Questions: Chris Brown and Young Thug’s ‘Go Crazy’ Jumps to No. 3 on the Hot 100

1. In its staggering 42nd week on the Hot 100, “Go Crazy” hits a new high of No. 3. What is it about the song that has allowed it to have such longevity?  

Josh Glicksman: It’s extremely digestible, particularly for radio: combine the uptempo, steadily tapping production from Murphy Kid and KanielTheOne – complete with a sample of The Showboys’ “Drag Rap” – with Chris Brown’s reliably smooth vocal and a few croons from Young Thug, and it’s easy to find yourself nodding along without really needing to pay too close attention to it. Oh, and it’s Chris Brown. This isn’t the first time he’s put together a long-standing R&B hit.

Carl Lamarre: The song is just flat-out catchy. CB has very few misses in his catalog when it comes to penning sing-songy hooks, and he accomplished that same mission when whipping up “Go Crazy.” Thug plays the perfect partner, too, matching his melodic intensity with an action-packed verse of his own.

Jason Lipshutz: “Go Crazy” has functioned a lot like Chris Brown’s other recent slow-growing smash, “No Guidance” with Drake, as an R&B song with the type of pop potential that sneaks up on the listener after multiple plays. The appeal of Brown’s costars on both songs shouldn’t be overlooked, as Drake and Young Thug obviously command huge fan bases. But with “Go Crazy” in particular, the song has hung around far longer than anyone would have predicted following the release of Slime & B last year, and turned its subtle hook into one of the bigger hits of both artists’ careers.

Heran Mamo: It’s not surprising that a TikTok dance challenge got the wheels turning for this Hot 100 smash. Maybe the #GoCrazy challenge’s striking similarity to the one for Drake’s summer 2018 chart-topper “In My Feelings” foreshadowed the song’s success. But listeners have probably kept this summer 2020 earworm on rotation to shake off their current stress and reminisce on brighter days under the sun.

Andrew Unterberger: I think it succeeds at being pretty immediately grabbing, hooking listeners with the well-traveled “Drag Rap” sample, and then getting into Brown’s “Trips to your crib in the middle of the night…” chorus fairly promptly thereafter. It’s also fairly repetitive and adaptable, which makes it an easily excerpted song: You can kinda grab any 60-second clip of it, drop it into a set and it’ll flow pretty smoothly — a boon for radio DJs, who can use it transition into or out of pretty much of anything.

2. “Go Crazy” got a boost this week from a new remix, also featuring Future, Lil Durk and Mulatto. Do you think the redo adds much to the song, or will it mostly be a footnote in the song’s history? 

Josh Glicksman: At the very least, the remix gives it a little additional oomph, which goes a long way when a song has already been around for this long. Durk isn’t ever going to waste an opportunity to give everything he has on a feature; Mulatto skates on her verse and gives the track a refreshing, straightforward rap tilt; and Future comes in with the reliable, extravagant bars about fashion, sexual prowess and home decor. I still think the original ultimately gets remembered better, but that’s likely more because it’s the version people have been listening to for almost a year already.

Carl Lamarre: The success of “Go Crazy” reminds me of Omarion’s 2014 Hot 100 hit “Post to Be.” Both were surefire party starters stamped by Breezy, and ultimately overshadowed their starry remixes. While Mulatto delivers a grand-slam feature on this remix, it’s not enough to eclipse the original — which doesn’t really need anything more than the fluid chemistry between CB and Thugger.

Jason Lipshutz: The remix is worth your time, at least for Mulatto’s verse breaking up the boys’ club (“Prada me if you proud of me” is a killer line!). I doubt it will change the legacy of “Go Crazy” too much, but as Mulatto is ascending, a rock-solid performance on a remix to a top 10 smash makes for another notable moment in that rise.

Heran Mamo: Considering the song reached No. 1 on seven different Billboard charts prior to the arrival of the remix, it’s looking more like a footnote to me. But the expertly tapped trio of hip-hop stars is noteworthy and, if I do say so myself, goes crazy: Lil Durk and Mulatto are graduating from their up-and-comer status in the game, while Future is a certified hitmaking veteran. 

Andrew Unterberger: Honestly, no matter who’s delivering the verses to this song, memory of them vanishes almost completely by the time that massive chorus rolls around again. The remix is fine, and some programmers will undoubtedly be grateful for the fresh alternative, but ultimately I doubt its impact will be lasting.

3. As successful as the song has been on the Hot 100, it’s nothing compared to the song’s performance on Billboard’s Hip-Hop/R&B Airplay listing, where the song is currently in its 23rd week at No. 1. Incredibly enough, that’s not even the longest-reigning Chris Brown No. 1 of the past few years, as his “No Guidance” spent 27 weeks atop the chart from late 2019 to early 2020. Why is Chris Brown the top go-to artist for hip-hop and R&B radio at the moment? 

Josh Glicksman: It’s a combination of a few different things: brand name certainly factors into it. At this point, any single that Chris Brown is going to push will at least get some sort of shot at hip-hop/R&B radio, which is a luxury that comes with his chart history. Secondly, as noted in the first question, he has mastered the polished, easy listening R&B hit perfect for late night car rides – whether you’re the one driving or simply riding in the backseat after a night out. And give him credit for properly marketing his songs with star-studded features, too.

Carl Lamarre: If we’re honest, CB isn’t new to this. He’s easily top-five hook performers in the genre and has been for the last decade. Though his chart success doesn’t reflect it because of his past drama, he’s beyond formidable when a bop is needed. He’s remained an immediately identifiable voice on the radio due to his copious features, and his track record speaks volumes. From Big Sean (“My Last”) to Kid Ink (“Show Me”) to even Lil Dicky (“Freaky Friday”), Breezy’s punchy hooks were responsible for each of them breaking into the mainstream.

Jason Lipshutz: I’d argue that hip-hop and R&B radio have helped Chris Brown extend his career well beyond the decade mark by largely sticking with him during his most controversial moments. The format has turned hits like “No Guidance” and “Go Crazy” into juggernauts that spend months in heavy rotation and in the top 10 of the Hot 100 chart; maybe program directors are abiding by fan demand, or perhaps slotting in Brown songs as an easy pivot point between R&B and hip-hop tracks (“Go Crazy” works as an easy transition in nearly any song block), but whatever the reason for that dominance, it’s been career-sustaining for Brown.

Heran Mamo: Because hip-hop and R&B consistently protect and uplift men who have a history of violence toward women, especially Black women. (More on that later.) Radio has opened its arms and its airwaves for Brown’s long-awaited comeback, plopping him right back on his pedestal as if nothing ever happened.

Andrew Unterberger: At a time when there’s less superficially separating hip-hop and R&B than ever, Chris Brown excels at making the kind of singles that hit the radio format in its dead center. They’re energetic and catchy enough to fit alongside more hype rap club tracks, but also melodic and melancholy enough to fit with more downtempo R&B. It’s a niche that his “No Guidance” partner has also successfully filled for the past decade.

4. Though Young Thug has scored two Hot 100 No. 1 hits as a featured artist, this is now his highest-charting song as a lead or co-lead. Is the success of “Go Crazy” significant for his own career, do you think, or do most people simply think of it as a Chris Brown song that Young Thug happens to be on? 

Josh Glicksman: Just about any top-5 hit on the Hot 100 is significant to an artist’s career, but despite the co-lead, this song will ultimately be remembered more as a Chris Brown song than anything else. Young Thug’s singing provides a nice compliment on “Go Crazy,” but it has all the elements of a patented Breezy hit. Those looking for the classic Thugger vibes still feel much more likely to opt for something like “Wyclef Jean” or the Gunna-featuring “Hot” instead.

Carl Lamarre: I’m going to go with the latter. I still think “Go Crazy” is mainly Breezy’s territory and that Thugger made a great addition. He did enough to create impact and let people know that he’s on the song, but again, Breezy’s vocals and melodies shine through too “crazy” on this one.

Jason Lipshutz: “Go Crazy” doesn’t mark any sort of “breakthrough moment” for Young Thug as a mainstream artist, since it’s another hit collaboration for his collection… but that collection has been rapidly growing over the past five years, and seeing his name in the upper reaches of the Hot 100 no longer feels like a fluke for longtime fans. His ability to assist on huge singles while still maintaining his idiosyncratic charm is enviable — most rappers with cult fan bases and left-field deliveries will never sniff the type of long-term success that Thugger has been enjoying.

Heran Mamo: Thugger definitely deserves to get his flowers. After dropping his So Much Fun debut album in 2019 — still weird to think how an artist as influential on the past decade as him didn’t drop a legit LP earlier — the rapper had a blowout 2020 based on features alone. He charted 14 hits on the Hot 100 alongside Travis Scott (“Franchise”), Gunna (“Dollaz on My Head”), Megan Thee Stallion (“Don’t Stop”) and more, and “Go Crazy” was among the two top 10 hits. But because Thug’s output hasn’t been as widely received or radio friendly as Chris Brown’s has over the last decade, the latter’s name has taken over more as a lead artist. 

Andrew Unterberger: It is funny how Young Thug’s success kinda runs in two parallels at this point, with a number of appearances on radio smashes his biggest fans could probably care less about, and an even wider array of underground classics that barely grazed the Hot 100, if at all. In any event, “Go Crazy” is a worthy addition to the former category, but it’s still a Chris Brown smash first and foremost — and if Young Thug was competing in a Verzuz this weekend, 50/50 on whether or not he’d even play it.

5. After Chris Brown’s arrest for his domestic assault on fellow pop star Rihanna, his immediate commercial fortunes took a small but noticeable dip. But the dip didn’t last long — he returned to pop stardom in the 2010s, and now in the 2020s, he’s once again among popular music’s most successful hitmakers. In general, how do you feel about that? 

Josh Glicksman: Upset. He has faced several other allegations of violence against women in the past decade as well. All facets of the music industry – and society, in general – still have a long way to go regarding believing and protecting women, and particularly women of color.

Carl Lamarre: I think his role in the domestic assault case was atrocious, and he deserved to be vilified every step along the way. I’m also a firm believer that people change and are entitled to a second chance. To see him now focused on the music and emerge successful amid the drama speaks to his discipline and focus on self-improvement. Not only did he capture his first lead top 10 record on the Hot 100 in seven years with “No Guidance,” but he also earned a Grammy nomination for the song — his first since 2015. He’s done the work, and he deserves the praise.

Jason Lipshutz: I still have difficulty listening to Chris Brown music, and that’s a personal stance, as is any decision in which real-life morality impacts the level of comfort in which art is processed. Brown has found a remarkable amount of success since the 2009 assault — scoring hit singles, No. 1 albums and collaborations with some of the biggest stars in music, including Rihanna. A lot of the music industry has moved on, while some, including myself, likely never will.

Heran Mamo: Chris Brown is living proof that cancel culture doesn’t truly exist the way some wish it did. People claimed they’d stop listening to him after he assaulted Rihanna, but the numbers for this song and even the ones for “No Guidance” tell quite the opposite story. Fans, label executives and radio programmers can easily turn a blind eye to their favorite or top stars assaulting women, especially Black women, and lean their ears into their next hit. Roxane Gay dedicated an entire chapter in her 2014 essay collection Bad Feminist to this exact phenomenon called “Dear Young Ladies Who Love Chris Brown So Much They Would Let Him Beat Them.” She writes, “Over and over again we tell you it is acceptable for men — famous, infamous, or not at all famous — to abuse women. We look the other way. We make excuses. We reward these men for their bad behavior.” A No. 3 hit on the Hot 100? That’s just his most current reward. 

Andrew Unterberger: I think it’s pretty crummy. I don’t believe in unconditional lifetime bans on radio (or on most other platforms), and he certainly wouldn’t be the first hitmaker to continue to find success after committing horrible deeds, but I’m not sure what exactly Chris Brown has done to be deserving of such wide re-acceptance. A 2017 Billboard deep dive into his current personal and professional state painted him as a violent, self-destructive and extremely troubled guy, one whose more noxious behavior is indulged just enough by his fans and team to keep him from seeking any kind of legitimate self-examination or personal development. He’s been arrested or legally detained multiple times since, and I can’t imagine the validation from scoring two of the biggest hits of his career has exactly tamped down his narcissism. I don’t get it, really. The songs aren’t even that good.