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Chris Brown studies for finals between gigs

17-year-old R&B star travels with a tutor so he can keep up in school
/ Source: The Associated Press

It’s only been a few months since Chris Brown made his debut, and already the teen has achieved success that would make showbiz veterans envious.

Besides his smash No. 1 hit “Run It,” the quick-footed R&B singer has posted two other hits on the charts, his self-titled album went platinum and he’s one of the most squeal-inducing performers on tour this year. And Brown isn’t even legal yet — he just turned 17 this spring.

But despite his quick rise, Brown didn’t seem too overwhelmed when he talked to The Associated Press about his life on the road. The Virginia native told The AP what he does to prepare for a show, what it’s like to be a high school student on the road and why a girl should think twice before writing her name on his tour bus.

AP: What’s the biggest key to staying fresh on tour?

Brown: Just have a lot of energy and showmanship, to know that you will have a great show and kill it every night.

AP: What do you do to keep yourself energized for a show?

Brown: I just look at the crowd. I see other acts that go on before me and I just see their energy. That’s what I feed off.

AP: What if the act before you hasn’t gotten the crowd hyped — does it intimidate you to go on right afterward?

Brown: No, because that means I’ll get ’em hyped.

AP: What do you do in your spare time on tour?

Brown: I play basketball. I have a basketball court on the bus. I put it in a trailer, and it’s a portable one, so we just hook it up whenever we want to play.

AP: What kind of a basketball player are you?

Brown: I’m a point guard. I hold my own. I’ve played ball. That’s one of my second talents, next to singing and dancing.

AP: You’ve been touring with several different acts. What are some of the challenges of being on tour with a big bill?

Brown: The challenges are people showing up late, people throwing water on stage. The act that went before you might throw water on stage ... but they don’t realize that 85 percent of the show is dancing, and we’ll slip on our tail if the floor’s not dry.

AP: What do you need to get ready for a show?

Brown: The only thing I really get is tea and Ricola, because that’s the only thing I do to warm my voice up. But when everybody else is done, and you know how rappers 50 of their friends and the whole nine yards and everybody else has to be backstage — people be getting backstage that we don’t even know — so I just need the whole back area cleared before I get backstage. When I have to change my clothes, [sometimes] you’re in front of people you don’t even know. There have been times when I’ve been yelling, ‘Who are you? Get out the way, man!’

AP: Is your bus filled with DVDs and games?

Brown: I got the Xbox, I play that a little bit, but at that same time, I really focus on writing songs. I write a lot of music.

AP: You’re still in high school; how do you manage studying on tour?

Brown: With me, It’s different, because I’ve got a tutor, the tutor stays on the road with me constantly, so I got school in the morning every day. As soon as I wake up, I have two or three hours of school, and then I go on with the regular day.

AP: What’s been the craziest thing that happened to you on tour?

Brown: People writing all over my bus! I have so many phone numbers on one of my buses, it’s ridiculous! And people just bang on the bus, chase the bus, follow us to the next city.

AP: If a girl wrote on the bus, would you ever call back?

Brown: Nah, because I wouldn’t know her. I wouldn’t have asked her for her number, so I wouldn’t just get a number off the bus and call it.