By Simon Vozick-Levinson
Updated November 18, 2009 at 07:24 PM EST
UPI/John Angelillo/Landov

New Boyz

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  • Music

Chris Brown has been going all out to relaunch his music career lately, just a few short months after pleading guilty to felony assault of his ex Rihanna. Right now, all signs indicate that Brown’s career rehab might be working. (Full disclosure: I’ve both reported on and expressed my opinion on various sides of this story.)

“I Can Transform Ya,” the lead single from his album Graffiti (due Dec. 8), has climbed to a peak position of No. 23 after five weeks on Billboard‘s Hot 100. That’s not smash territory yet, but it suggests that a lot of people are ready to hear new music from Brown. “The audience will tell us whether they want to hear it,” says Rob Morris, program director at the Twin Cities region’s KDWB FM, which has begun testing “I Can Transform Ya” in its mix shows. “I’m sure there’s going to be folks who will give us reasons why they don’t think Chris Brown should have a song on the radio. But a song’s a song. Obviously he’s paying for [what he did] in many ways. I think the music that he continues to do is somewhat separate.”

The story is much the same in concert venues around the country. Brown kicked off his Fan Appreciation tour this past weekend with a sold-out show in Houston. His dates this week in L.A. and San Francisco are sold out, too, according to his label. While Brown has been playing smaller venues than usual, it’s clear that he’s kept a substantial number of fans. Many of them must feel the same way as New Boyz (of “You’re a Jerk” fame), who jumped at the chance to be Brown’s opening act on this tour despite his violent behavior in February. “That was his business,” New Boyz’ Ben J tells the Music Mix. “We’re not going to hold that against Chris Brown. He still makes dope music.”

The real test will be in the coming weeks, when singles like “I Can Transform Ya” and “Crawl” either continue to climb the charts or start to fall, and Graffiti arrives in stores.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

More from EW.com’s Music Mix:

Chris Brown on the Music Mix

Rock ‘n’ roll wine tie-ins

Miley Cyrus not a Twilight fan: “I’ve never seen it, nor will I ever”

Kris Allen: A track-by-track analysis of his self-titled debut album

Photo credit: UPI/John Angelillo/Landov

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New Boyz

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