By Nuzhat Naoreen
Updated March 15, 2012 at 05:50 PM EDT

Chris Brown is one of the hottest R&B artists out there — at least according to Rihanna.

After igniting a firestorm of criticism (and in some cases praise) for her with decision to work with Brown last month on two remixes that they dropped simultaneously, Rihanna is finally speaking out.

The singer called into On Air With Ryan Seacrest this morning to explain why she asked Brown to guest on her single “Birthday Cake.”

“I reached out to him about doing ‘Birthday Cake’ because that’s the only person that really — it made sense to do the record. Just as a musician, despite everything else, that was going to be the person,” she explained, seemingly referring to the infamous assault that resulted in community service and a restraining order for Brown. “You know I thought about rappers, and I’ve done that so many times, and the hottest R&B artist out right now is Chris Brown.”

Rihanna went on to explain that after Brown appeared on her track, he asked her to return the favor by singing on his new single, “Turn Up The Music.”

“We did two records. One for my fans. One for his fans, and that way our fans can come together,” she told the radio host. “There shouldn’t be a divide. You know? It’s music, and it’s innocent.”

This isn’t the first time Rihanna has shown her support for Brown. Last year, she told Esquire that it’s “incredible to see how he pulled out of it the way he did.”

“Even when the world seemed like it was against him, you know? I really like the music he’s putting out. I’m a fan of his stuff. I’ve always been a fan. Obviously, I had some resentment toward him for a while, for obvious reasons. But I’ve put that behind me. It was taking up too much of my time. It was too much anger. I’m really excited to see the breakthrough he’s had in his career. I would never wish anything horrible for him. Never. I never have.”

What do you think — is she right that this is all “innocent”? And is it even fair to judge her choices, or is she beholden, as a public figure, to explain herself?

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