“No disrespect to anyone, but gear up baby, because when I come, it’s over.”
Foxy Brown, Femme Fatale
Fame and infamy often go hand in hand. It’s an entertainment industry truth that Foxy Brown has seen and experienced for herself. Despite her meteoric rise to fame aided by some of the biggest names in rap and hip-hop, Brown has been far from immune against the industry standard substance abuse and prison stints. Her numerous incidents, though, have not dinted her prolificacy nor her skills at the microphone.
Born Inga Fung Marchand in 1978, the NYC native made it big even before she’d written any material for herself at all. A Brooklyn talent contest in 1994 started her career, when producers Jean-Claude Olivier and Samuel Barnes – better known as the Trackmasters – heard her stuff. The duo was impressed, so much so that they invited teenaged Marchand to rap over I Shot Ya from LL Cool J’s 1995 multiplatinum album Mr. Smith.
Foxy Brown: Young and Fierce
Several extremely successful high-profile collaborations followed, such as with Jay-Z on Ain’t No Nigga from the soundtrack of 1996 comedy hit The Nutty Professor. By 1996, she had caused a bidding war between major record labels, with Def Jam coming out as the eventual victor. 17-year old Marchand joined their roster in late 1996.
Ill Na Na, her 2006 debut, did not do very well with the music press but did excellently at the tills. Over 100,000 copies were sold in the first week alone and it opened to a Top 10 spot on the Billboard 200. Thanks to considerable production from the Trackmasters and collaborations with the likes of Jay-Z and Method Man, the album went on to sell triple platinum and spawned two hit singles.
With her street cred established, she officially became the fourth member of New York-based hip-hop supergroup The Firm, along with Nature, AZ and Nas. This gave her yet another platinum album under her belt.
After a string of touring in 1997, she made history with her 1999 sophomore album Chyna Doll, which was the first album from any female rapper to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200. Despite strong sales during the first week, its commercial performance slumped later on, and it only just managed to get platinum RIAA certification.
Foxy Brown’s Fighting Spirit
Two years later, Brown took on a more street rapper image with the released of Broken Silence and its first single, the Brooklyn tribute BK Anthem. The album quickly sold gold. Despite the star-heavy lineup for her 2002 single Stylin’, the carrier album Ill Na Na 2: The Fever was shelved by Def Jam due to differences between her and the top brass.
Jay-Z reconciled her with the company two years later, when he persuaded her to sign back on with Roc-A-Fella Records. She returned with an appearance in his Jay-Z and Friends tour before beginning work on her own album, Black Roses. This project took a back seat, however, when she signed with Koch Records to release Brooklyn’s Don Diva in 2007. She also began serving a twelve-month prison sentence for assault that year.
Koch Entertainment also gave her a deal to create her own imprint, Black Rose Entertainment. It was under that branding that she released her fifth studio album, Black Roses, in 2010, which had been half a decade in the making.
Did you know that...
- ...there was supposed to be a Foxy Brown autobiography? Publishers Simon & Schuster, Inc., however, sued her in 2008 when she failed to deliver any material.
- ...she went without hearing for a while? Before undergoing surgery, she had someone tap a beat on her shoulder while she made songs.