A New York born female rapper and songwriter of Afro-Trinidadian and Indo-Trinidadian descent, Foxy Brown, born Inga Marchand, is recognized for her solo work as well as a number of collaborations and a short stint as part of hip hop super group The Firm. She has released the platinum albums Ill Na Na (1996) and Chyna Doll (1999), the critically acclaimed album Broken Silence (2001), as well as the 1997 The Firm: The Album, with The Form’s members Nas, AZ and Cormega. Known for her raspy, sexy voice, Brown also has worked together with many artists such as Case in “Touch Me, Tease Me,” Jay Z in “I’ll Be,” LL Cool J in “I Shot Ya” and Blackstreet in “Get Me Home.”
Now signed with Roc-A-Fella Records label, Brown is scheduled to return to the music scene in the mid of 2007 with her new album Black Roses.
No stranger to terrible press, Brown has created headlines for spitting on two hotel clerks who did not provide her with an iron, and being charged for purportedly hitting around a fan of hers. In March 2006, she was in the reports for suffering neck and arm ache after crashing her Range Rover into a fence 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. Two months later, she was arrested in Kingston, Jamaica for a clash with a policewoman at Norman Manley International Airport.
As for her private life, Brown was married to Ricardo Brown from 1999 until 2000. She had a long-term term relationship with Kurupt and once the two became engaged. Their relationship ended at the end of 1999. Brown was also romantically involved with Jamaican reggae star Spragga Benz.
The Ill Na Na
Childhood and Family:
Inga Marchand was born on September 6, 1979, in Brooklyn, New York, to parents who are from the two-island Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago. As a child, she was fascinated by blaxploitation films, and later took the pseudonym Foxy Brown from the 1974 movie Foxy Brown, starring Pam Grier. She befriended with Lil’s Kim and the girls hoped someday they would be stars in the rap world. It was nearly a fairytale and form of salvation for Foxy, who did not own a good relationship with her ever-absent dad. She attended Brooklyn College Academy High School in Brooklyn, New York.
In 1997, Foxy Brown, whose nickname is The Ill Na Na, was engaged to Ricardo Brown, and they got married two years later. However, the bond ended in separation in 2000.
Dreaming of becoming a successful rapper as an escape from her bad relationship with his father, Foxy Brown got her big break while still a teenager, when in 1994 she won a talent contest in Brooklyn, and was therefore invited to freestyle on stage. At that time, production team Trackmasters were on set of LL Cool J’s Mr. Smith album, and they decided to give Brown an opportunity to rap over LL Cool J track’s “I Shot Ya,” which became a hit. The success of the single led to her work in Total’s “No One Else,”
Toni Braxton’s remix of “You’re Makin’ Me High,” Case’s “Touch Me, Tease Me” and Silk’s remix of “Hooked On You.” She was also invited by Jay-Z to freestyle on his song, “Ain’t No Nigga.”
In 1996, Brown finally scored a record deal with the Def Jam label, and released her first solo album, Ill Na Na, that same year, which hit No. 7 on the Billboard charts in its first week of release. Produced by the Trackmasters, the album also featured appearances from Method Man, Kid Capri and Blackstreet. It earned some positive reviews, but was strongly criticized for its explicit lyrics, mainly because the lady rapper was still under seventeen at the time of the recording. Despite the mixed reviews, Ill Na Na, sold 2.8 million in America and went on to go platinum. It spawned two hit singles, “Get Me Home” (feat. Blackstreet) and “I’ll Be” (feat. Jay-Z).
Lured by her success as an emcee and soloist, Brown was recruited to be member of The Firm, the East Coast gangsta rap super group consisting of two other rappers AZ, Cormega, and led by Nas. The group launched their first album, The Firm: The Album, on October 27, 1997 on Dr. Dre’s Aftermath record label. The Firm’s only album sold badly but charted well upon its release. Though debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and selling 1. 4 million copies, the album immediately dropped the charts and was greatly criticize as a bomb.
Brown continued to release the 1997 single “Big Bad Mama,” featuring Dru Hill, from Def Jam’s How to Be a Player soundtrack. The track was a major hit and put the artist to have another album. When Brown launched her sophomore effort, Chyna Doll, in 1999, it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 that made Brown the first female rap artist ever to accomplish that feat. Selling over one million copies, the album earned a platinum certification. The freestyler further increased her profile by appearing as Calvin Klein Jeans’ spokesmodel and on the cover of Essence magazine later that same year.
Brown’s third album, Broken Silence, was released on July 17, 2001 to highly praised reviews. Its lead single, “B.K. Anthem,” was courageous and more subversive than any of her earlier singles, and the second single “Oh Yeah,” which featured her then lover Jamaican reggae artist Spragga Benz, marked her debut in the reggae/dancehall genre of music. Broken Silence was hailed by music critics as Brown’s most personal and thoughtful work to date, but it became her lowest selling album to date, particularly due to lack promotion from her record label Def Jam. She even picked up her first Grammy nomination for Best Female Rap Solo Performance in 2002 for her single “Na Na Be Like.”
In 2003, Brown was back to the music industry briefly on a DJ Kayslay’s single named “Too Much For Me,” which also featuring Nas and Baby. On an appearance in a New York radio, she exposed the details of her liaison with Lyor Cohen and Sean P. Diddy Combs, who at the time were Def Jam President, and blamed them of illegally selling her recording masters. She also stated that Cohen deferred her long anticipated fourth album Ill Na Na 2: The Fever because she rejected new contractual terms. In late 2003, Brown was released from Def Jam.
A year after her departure from her previous label, Brown signed with Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam, whose president is her childhood friend and collaborator Jay-Z. Currently, she is working on her new album, Black Roses, slated for release in the mid of 2007.