Three weeks after allegedly beating and bruising his pop star girlfriend Rihanna, and days before his potential court arraignment, Chris Brown remains quiet -- but that's not stopping members of the hip-hop community from weighing in on the Feb. 8 incident and the future of his career.
In an interview with ABC News, rapper 50 Cent described his reaction to the photos of Rihanna's swollen, cut face released last week. He joined the likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z and T.I. in opining on the incident.
"It's past what would happen in a traditional dysfunctional relationship, just a little more," he said. "She was beaten past someone hitting a person out of anger that they couldn't control at the moment. It's like a man fighting another man versus a man fighting another woman.
"It was shocking. It was more than I could do," added 50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson.
The rapper is no stranger to domestic drama. Last year, his ex-wife accused him of trying to burn her and their son to death after a suspicious fire ripped through their Long Island home.
"Fiddy" went on to talk about the future of both stars' careers. Brown, 19, was considered a triple threat prior to the alleged altercation. He sang hit songs ("Kiss Kiss," "Forever"), danced circles around the competition (with moves comparable to those of Usher and Michael Jackson) and made inroads into the acting world ("The O.C." and "Stomp the Yard.")
Rihanna, 21, is one of the pop music world's biggest stars. She's racked up five Billboard No. 1 singles in a four-year-long career and serves as the face of ad campaigns for Gucci and Cover Girl.
Of Brown's career, 50 Cent said, "I don't want to say it's over, but it will be different. ... He can't have that clean-cut image anymore.
"I don't think he should say anything right now. Like the apology statement he put out ... there's no way the public will embrace that," 50 Cent added.
As for Rihanna, 50 Cent hopes she'll get back to the tour circuit and recording studio soon.
"I don't think she needs to hide. She didn't do anything wrong," he said.
Brown, Rihanna Remain in Hiding
But apart from canned statements from their PR reps, both stars have been in hiding. Rihanna escaped the cloud hanging over her by catching some sun in her native Barbados last weekend.
"At the request of the authorities, Rihanna is not commenting about the incident involving Chris Brown," her representative said in a statement released Feb. 20, the singer's 21st birthday. "She wants to assure her fans that she remains strong, is doing well, and deeply appreciates the outpouring of support she has received during this difficult time."
Brown, according to a statement released Feb. 15 by Mike Sitrick, a Brown representative, is "seeking the counseling of my pastor, my mother and other loved ones."
According to an anonymous source quoted in the New York Daily News this week, Brown is also attending anger management classes.
"Chris doesn't actually have to go, by law," the source told the paper. "He believes it will make him look better to the public, and he wants to try to get in a few classes before March 5."
March 5 is the date Brown may appear in Los Angeles Superior Court. Uncertainty remains because earlier this month, the Los Angeles district attorney's office kicked the case back to the LAPD for "further investigation." No charges have been filed yet.
The district attorney's public information officer told ABC News "nothing will happen this week," meaning Brown will not be charged this week.
But the New York Daily News stresses both Brown and Rihanna will appear in court next week, again quoting an anonymous source: "She'll be there -- she has to testify."
What Next for Rising Stars?
In the wake of the Feb. 8 incident, both Brown and Rihanna put their careers on hold. He canceled a slew of scheduled appearances as she postponed multiple tour dates.
For Brown, backlash came fast. His "Got Milk" and Wrigley's ad campaigns ended days after the alleged altercation; radio stations in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis pulled his music soon after.
Marvet Britto, founder of brand management firm The Britto Agency, speculated that until Brown offers a sincere apology and in-depth explanation of what happened, his career will remain at a standstill.
"He needs to restore his image with his fans and his public. He can't expect that time elapsed will help him rebound from the black cloud that's hovering over his life and his career," she said. "We need to see Chris step up and explain what transpired."
Will he still sing songs? Sure. But with his clean-cut image destroyed, the potential for Brown to become a cross-platform superstar a la Justin Timberlake or Will Smith is likely no more.
"While he may sell records again -- because all that really takes is a hit song -- he will not be held in the same high regard that he once was," Britto said.
As for Rihanna, if she ends her romance with Brown, Britto believes that once she is mentally and physically healed, she can pick up right where she left off -- recording and touring without directly addressing the drama.
But if she stays with Brown, as some rumors suggest she might, that will call for a different course of action.
"She is now, like it or not, the most famous face of domestic abuse. If Rihanna emerges again with Chris Brown, she will absolutely have to address her mindset and the actions leading up to that," Britto said. "She owes her fans and supporters an explanation if she decides to continue her very public relationship with him."