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Rap Biographies: Foxy Brown

Foxy Brown
Foxy Brown (born Inga Marchand on September 6,1979 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American rapper of Trinidadian and Asian descent known for her solo work as well as numerous collaborations and a brief stint as part of hip-hop supergroup The Firm. She has released three solo albums: Ill Na Na (1996), Chyna Doll (1999), and Broken Silence  (2001). After a bitter split with her record label Def Jam in 2003, Brown ended up in label limbo. She admitted to the media her face was dangerously ugly as lil kim said, but then added im pretty "short" and "fat" too. In 2004 childhood friend/collaborator Jay-Z resigned Brown to Def Jam and his Rocafella Records label, when he became the President of Def Jam Records. In 1999 she made music history when her album Chyna Doll entered the Billboard 200 album chart at No.1, she is the only female rapper in the history of music to do so.

In 2005 while in the midst of recording her fourth studio album Black Roses, Brown faced another hardship when she was diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss. The hearing impairment took 100% of Brown's hearing, but 20% was restored after an operation to repair it. Brown also landed in legal trouble when two manicurists who alleged that she assaulted them during a 2004 altercation, pressed criminal charges against her. After turning down several plea bargains, Brown is expected to go on trial in January 2006, the same month that she will undergo another surgery to restore her hearing.

Inga Marchand - a.k.a. Foxy Brown or the Ill Na Na - was born September 6, 1979, in Brooklyn, New York. In her Park Slope childhood days, young Inga was mesmerized by blaxploitation films. She watched practically every one, and chose Pam Grier's title character Foxy Brown as her moniker.

Foxy and her childhood friend Lil' Kim (who Foxy is often compared to) fantasized about the days that they would be successful in the rap world. It was almost a fairytale and form of escape for Foxy, who did not have a good relationship with her ever-absent father.

Her big break came along in 1994, when she won a talent contest and was therefore invited to freestyle on a Brooklyn concert stage. Incidentally, Trackmasters decided to let the foxy lady rap over an LL Cool J track, "I Shot Ya". LL Cool J's Mr. Smith was in production at the time, and the album became one of Foxy's tickets to stardom.

She was next invited by Jay-Z to freestyle on his single, "Ain't No Nigga". While her friend Lil' Kim became Notorious B.I.G.'s protg, Foxy was handpicked and mentored by Jay-Z. She appeared on Toni Braxton's remix for "You're Makin' Me High", Case's "Touch Me, Tease Me", Silk's remix of "Hooked On You", and Total's "No One Else".

By the time Foxy Brown released her debut album, the rap world was already familiar with the artist's raspy, sexy voice thanks to her contribution to many a rapper. A bidding war between record companies ensued, since many companies wanted to sign Foxy Brown to their label. Def Jam was the lucky winner.

Ill Na Na was released in 1996, and debuted in the 7th spot on the Billboard charts. Produced by the Trackmasters, the album also featured contributions by Blackstreet, Method Man and Kid Capri, and the production assistance of Mobb Deep, Suga Bear and China. Selling more than 1.5 million copies, the album spawned the Blackstreet and Foxy Brown smash duet, "Get Me Home".

Foxy's success as an emcee and solo artist led to her joining The Firm, a group consisting of rappers AZ, Cormega, and led by Nas. The Firm posse released their first album, The Firm: The Album in 1997, on Dr. Dre's Aftermath record label.

Foxy Brown made her biggest splash with the 1996 hit song "Ain't No Nigga..." with Jay-Z from the soundtrack to the movie The Nutty Professor. She released her debut album Ill Na Na to mixed reviews but strong sales. The Album was produced by Trackmasters, and featured appearances from Blackstreet, Method Man, and Kid Capri. It hit number seven its first week on the album charts. Despite some positive reviews, Ill Na Na was heavily criticized by many for containing lyrics that were more explicit than anything anyone so young (Brown was 16 when the album was produced), especially a girl, had ever recorded before. Although the album went on to go platinum and launched two hit singles fellow raunchy female rapper and Brooklyn native, Lil' Kim, also appeared on the music scene around the same time and the media immediately created a rivalry between once friends Brown and Kim.

Foxy Brown joined The Firm with Cormega, AZ and Nas before releasing her solo 1996 debut, Il Na Na.

The East Coast gangsta rap supergroup never lived up to its excessive hype and instead became a brief footnote in the careers of its main participants. Including Brown the foursome included three other New York rappers - Nas, AZ, and Nature - but was actually the pet project of its producers: Nas Escobar (as he referred to himself at the time), Steve "Commissioner" Stoute, Dr. Dre, and the Trackmasters. On paper, the group seemed nothing short of spectacular: on the vocals Nas and Foxy Brown, two of New York's favorite rappers at the time; on the beats Dre and the Trackmasters, two of the industry's most accomplished producers of the time; and signing the checks Stoute, the man standing alongside Puff Daddy as New York's biggest career-booster. On paper this looked like an invincible team for sure; however, the overconfident, over-reaching attitudes of all involved ironically became the group's downfall.

An early form of the Firm appeared on "Affirmative Action," a standout song from Nas' second album, It Was Written. Foxy Brown, AZ, and Cormega joined Nas for the song - each taking a verse - and it became an album highlight as well as a much-talked-about song on the streets. Of course, Cormega got the boot in favor of Nature for reasons that vary depending on who you ask (reportedly because either Stoute or Nas - or both - preferred Nature). Up until this incident, Cormega and Nas had been comrades. Following the incident, however, Cormega took his beef to the streets, penning the inflammatory track "Fuck Nas and Nature" and letting it circulate through the mix-tape market. Things would never be the same between the two former comrades.

But the Cormega incident had little to do with why the Firm flopped. Rather, it became an instance of overconfidence and over-reaching. All involved with the project hyped it heavily, creating a huge buzz on the streets. Dre and the Trackmasters split the production duties, and Stoute brought in a number of guests to pad the album, most likely hoping to spin off successful careers for several of the newcomers. It didn't work that way, though. Instead, listeners rejected the over-hyped album, unhappy with the excessive guests and skits; they wanted to hear Nas and Foxy Brown, not a bunch of no-names (keep in mind that the outside packaging listed no guests besides the primary participants, though actually there are guests on nearly every song). It, of course, didn't help that none of the singles hit big and that the primary draws - Nas and Foxy Brown - seemed like guests themselves on their own album. Although debuting at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums The album quickly collected dust on record-store shelves, and all involved returned to their solo careers, happy to put the embarrassment behind them. The only person to really mention the fiasco years later was Cormega, who continued to resent being ousted from the group.

Brown went on to release a single Big Bad Mama featuring Dru Hill from Def Jam's How To Be A Player Soundtrack. It became a minor hit and set Brown up to launch another album.

In 1999 Foxy Brown released her second album Chyna Doll which made chart history when it became the first album by a female rap artist to enter the Billboard 200 Album chart at #1, even though its first single "Hot Spot" failed to even make it to the top 50 on the singles chart. Chyna Doll was certified Platinum selling over 1 million copys by the RIAA, but it did not live up to the expectations of her record label Def Jam still Brown was living in the success.

At the end of 1999, Brown and her fiance' Kurupt ended their five year relationship. By the year 2000, several of Brown's friendships in the industry, such as those with Jay-Z and Nas, grew strained. Brown suffered from depression and entered rehab for an addiction to prescription painkillers. Also in 1999 Brown appeared on the cover of Essense Magazine's August issue. The article was titled Dignity or Dollars in it Brown stated she wanted to clean up her image even appearing clothed alot more than she usually was and it countered the negative press she recieved for her Vibe cover shot in which she posed wearing a silver bikini and suggestively holding her crotch.

Brown's personal problems continued to escalate. On March 6, 2000, Brown crashed her Range Rover in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Her injuries were minor but police arrested her for driving while her license had been suspended for not paying two parking tickets.

Being dissed several times on Lil' Kim's 2000 album The Notorious K.I.M. Brown decided to respond back. Foxy Brown jumped back on her feet in late 2000 when she was featured on C-N-N's single "Bang Bang". Brown delivered a scathing diss towards her rival Lil' Kim. The diss is considered by most rap fans the verse that won the battle for Brown. After this Brown was relatively quiet doing small guest apperances here and there.

In 2001, Brown released the critically acclaimed Broken Silence album. The first single "BK Anthem" was gritty and more underground than any of Brown's previous singles. It gave "props" to her hometown, Brooklyn, and other famous rappers such as Biggie and Jay-Z who also originated from Brooklyn. The song's music video had a similarly urban and home-grown feel, and was made to look like it was cheaply recorded from a home video camcorder. The second single from the album "Oh Yeah", which featured her then boyfriend Jamaican reggae artist Spragga Benz, marked Brown's debut in the reggae/dancehall genre of music. Brown's record label Def Jam didn't put forth the promotion as they had did with her two previous albums. But this album was a success, music critics hailed Broken Silence as Brown's most personal and introspective work to date. The album recived great reviews and went on to sell nearly a million copies.

In 2002, Brown received her first Grammy nomination for Best Female Rap Solo Performance for her single "Na Na Be Like" off the Broken Silence album.

In 2003, Brown returned to the music scene briefly on a DJ Kay Slay single called "Too Much For Me". In April 2003 Brown appeared on popular New York radio jock Wendy Williams' radio show, and revealed the shocking details of her relationship with Def Jam President at the time, Lyor Cohen and Sean P. Diddy Combs. Brown accused both of illegally trading her recording masters. She also announced that Lyor Cohen shelved her long awaited fourth album "Ill Na Na 2: The Fever", because of her refusal to accept new contractual terms. Most shocking, Brown tearfully revealed that the overwhelming stress from Def Jam resulted in her having a miscarriage. She was expecting her first child with boyfriend Spragga Benz. Less than 24 hours after the interview was broadcast, "Ill Na Na 2: The Fever" mysteriously surfaced online for downloading and bootlegging. A few months later Brown appeared on the cover of the popular hip-hop magazine XXL Magazine, and shared her desire to leave Def Jam. In late 2003 Brown was released from Def Jam Records.

In 2004, Brown reunited with her childhood friend Jay-Z, when he became the President of Def Jam and signed her to his subsidiary, Roc-A-Fella Records. Later that year, Brown joined Jay-Z and a slew of other hot hip-hop acts on his U.S. Jay-Z And Friends tour. Brown also began recording her fourth solo album, "Black Roses". Later that year, Brown was allegedly involved in a physical altercation with two manicurists over a payment dispute.

In April 2005, female rapper Jacki-O alleged that she and Brown got into a physical altercation at a recording studio in Miami, Florida. Jacki said that Brown came in the studio during her session and expected her to "bow down" to her. She said that Brown constantly belittled her, and a heated argument ensued. Jacki alleged that verbal altercation eventually escalated into fist fight. While Brown did admit that there was definitely a verbal disagreement, she denied that it ever turned physical. Brown said that Jacki was "disrespectful" and that she exaggerated the incident to gain publicity for her upcoming project. In May 2005, Brown fell victim to a sudden case of sensorineural hearing loss, which took 100% of her hearing. Surgery restored approximately 20% of her hearing, and although repeated treatments have not improved her hearing beyond this point, Brown remains hopeful that surgery will help.

In October 2005, Brown gave an exclusive interview to People Magazine discussing being diagnosed with the hearing impairment.

On December 5, 2005, her attorney Joseph Tacopina said that Brown is almost totally deaf and that he cannot communicate with her verbally any more. Brown told reporters on December 15 that she was diagnosed with sudden hearing loss in May while she was recording her upcoming album.

Shortly after Brown's attorney Joseph Tacopina spoke to the public about her hearing condition news spread that Brown had fired Tacopina. According to reports, Tacopina was never given permission by Brown or her agent to discuss her medical condition to reporters.

On December 15, 2005, Brown held an emotional press conference in New York City, where she revealed that she is now 100% deaf due to sensorineural hearing loss. She also revealed that she has not heard another person's voice since May 2005. Brown will undergo surgery in early 2006 to hopefully restore her hearing. Post recovery, Brown said that she plans to finish working on her fourth solo album, Black Roses, for a 2006 release. At the conference, Brown was surrounded by many supporters such as her friend supermodel Tyson Beckford, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, Kimora Lee Simmons and rapper Doug E. Fresh.

Foxy Brown has been feuding with rapper Lil' Kim for close to a decade. Though the root of the rivalry is unclear, Brown and Kim have exchanged verbal barbs in their recordings. In early 2001, members of Kim's former group, Junior Mafia, and C-N-N got into a violent shoot-out outside of New York radio station Hot 97, leaving one man wounded. The shooting was reputedly a retaliation for insults Brown delivered to Kim in the song "Bang Bang". In 2005, Kim was sentenced to serve 366 days in federal prison for conspiracy and perjury.
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