Born Inga Fung Marchand on September 6, 1979; raised in the Prospect Park section of Brooklyn in; mother worked as a teacher; brother Gavin a musician named "Pretty Boy." Addresses: Record company-Def Jam Records, 652 Broadway, New York, NY 10012; Phone: (212) 229-5200.
Hip hop/rap artist Foxy Brown's distinctive style combines the street sounds and lyrics of rap with rhythm-and-blues tinged hip-hop, along with a persona borrowed from actress Pam Grier's portrayal of the strong, black, tomboyish film character Foxy Brown in in the film of the same name. Her career reached fruition at the young age of 17 when she made her first musical appearance on LL Cool J's remix of "Who Shot Ya" on Mr. Smith. Subsequent appearances included being featured on Jay-Z's hit "Ain't No Nigga," Silk's remix of "Hooked On You, Total's remix of "No One Else," Case's "Touch Me Tease Me," and several songs on Nas's releases. Brown released her platinum debut album, Ill Na Na, in 1996 at the age of 18 to critical acclaim within the rap and hip-hop community, and released Chyna Doll in 1999. The Village Voice's Evelyn McDonnell wrote, "The actress discovered at the soda fountain is now the 19-year old daughter of a single mother schoolteacher in Park Slope (Brooklyn). Ladies and Gentlemen, Foxy Brown."
Part Filipino, Foxy Brown was born Inga Fung Marchand on September 6, 1979 and was raised in the Prospect Park section of Brooklyn by a single mother who worked as a teacher. She demonstrated talent, initiative, and ambition at an early age. During the winter of 1994, at the age of 15, she was picked from a Brooklyn talent show audience to freestyle rap on stage. Soon after, she was featured rhyming over the track of "I Shot Ya" on LL Cool J's album Mr. Smith, and collaborated with the TrackMasters production team, which included Tone and Poke. She also contributed musically to the single "I'll Be," which also featured Jay Z, on the Mr. Smith release. In 1997, she was included in the bluesSmokin' Grooves tour along with Cypress Hill, Erykah Badu, George Clinton, The Roots, Brand New Heavies, Pharcyde, and Outkast in House. Brown eventually pulled out of the tour after missing several dates, but soon collaborated with Mia X, Master P, and Dru Hill on "Big Bad Mamma" from The Party Don't Stop. She also contributed a guest appearance to Puff Daddy's release No Way Out on the singles "Fried" and "Release Some Tension".
Brown was included in a group of rap and hip-hop musicians called The Firm, which included Nas Escobar, AZ, and Nature (Nature replaced Cormega). The group released a CD titled Nas Escobar, Foxy Brown, AZ, and Nature Present The Firm; The Album on Uni/Interscope in November of 1997. The release entered the BillboardHot 200 Albums at number one in November, and featured guest appearances by Dr. Dre, Pretty Boy (Gavin, Foxy Brown's brother), Miss Jones, Half-A-Mil, Noriega, and Canibus. Brown was featured a month later in the rap magazine The Source. She also appeared on the Def Jam's Greatest Hits release in 1997, on the singles "Touch Me, Tease Me, Get Me Home," and "The Promise". The soundtrack to the Warner Brothers release Jackie Brown in 1997 also featured a guest appearance by Brown.
Brown's debut release, Ill Na Na, went platinum soon after its release in 1997. McDonnell wrote, "Scandal can be a starlet's best friend. Flashing flesh helped the so-so Na Na grab press and go platinum.... In her eyes, Brown wasn't doing anything Mae West and Madonna hadn't done before. Grier jiggled and kicked butt; Foxy wanted to do the same." Brown's idols Roxanne Shante and Salt-n-Pepa had also combined sex appeal with rap music, but Brown's debut at the age of 17 happened to coincide with a trend in hip-hop and rap toward a tomboyish female approach." McDonnell continued, "Wrapped in furs, constantly deferring to male patrons, and luxury-obsessed, she wasn't doing much for any of your favorite socialist feminist animal rights-activist causes." Brown, young and unapologetically exuberant, used both the criticism and sex appeal to her advantage, propelling her album forward in the process. She also railed against the sexual double standards for men and women in her music, pointing out that men are lauded for being promiscuous and flashy. Part of Brown's appeal is to be true to her own instincts. McDonnell further wrote, "Brown reminds me of Tupac (Shakur). She has the same Hamlet-like combo of Thanatos and Eros, recklessness and introspection."
Brown released her sophomore CD, Chyna Doll, at the age of 20 in 1999. She wrote the lyrics for all of the tracks and produced three of them herself. On the autobiographical single "My Life," Brown said she never wanted to be born, she wished her father had used a prophylactic, and she wished she hadn't sought her father's love by dating "thugs." She wrote, "My life, do you feel what I feel" My life, a black girl's ordeal". Brown sings about her personal experience and flatly sing-speaks the chorus. McDonnell described "My Life" as "black-and-white 8mm compared to the melismatic octave-cartwheeling Technicolor we've come to expect." Brown knows how to tell a compelling story through music, and is equally adept at creating a compelling public persona. Chyna Doll's "My Life" also addresses a broken friendship with rap artist Li'L Kim, a friendship that Brown concedes in the song was lost due to overblown pride. The two women were close friends before they became famous, and even charted their early course to fame together.
Brown has collaborated with or performed alongside a wide array of rap and hip-hop musicians over the course of only a few years, and her career began to flourish in earnest after her debut release. Brown's combination of artful and gripping storytelling, spotlight-grabbing glamour, natural beauty, gritty realism, and urban sound buttressed her early success, and her discernible vulnerability and youthful boasting further endeared her to fans. Pam Grier met Foxy Brown in 1998 and the two women became friends. The mythical heroine of the silver screen after whom Brown named herself turned out to be the ideal moniker for Brown, as Brown is just as headstrong, courageous, and larger-than-life as the original Foxy Brown. Although Brown shuns the tough, tomboy style of many other female hip-hop and rap artists, her inner strength and choice of stage names reveal the ultimate tomboy: an independent woman with talent, who alone decides what she will or won't exploit.
by B. Kimberly Taylor
Foxy Brown's Career
Picked from a Brooklyn Talent show audience to freestyle rap on stage at the age of 15, 1994; featured rhyming over the track of "I Shot Ya" on LL Cool's album Mr. Smith; collaborated with the TrackMasters production team, which included Tone and Poke; contributed musically to the single I'll Be" which also featured Jay Z, on the Mr. Smith release; collaborated with Mia X, Master P, and Dru Hill on "Big Bad Mamma" from The Party Don't Stop; contributed a guest appearance to Puff Daddy's release No Way Out on the singles "Fried" and "Release Some Tension;" part of a group of rap and hip-hop musicians called The Firm, which included Nas Escobar, AZ, and Nature (Nature replaced Cormega); The Firm released a CD titled Nas Escobar, Foxy Brown, AZ, and Nature Present The Firm; The Album, Uni/Interscope, November of 1997; appeared on the Def Jam's Greatest Hits, 1997, on the singles "Touch Me, Tease Me," "Get Me Home," and "The Promise;" released debut CD I'll Na Na, Def Jam Records 1996 and ; released Chyna Doll, Def Jam Records, 1999.
Foxy Brown's Awards
Platinum status for I'll Na Na, 1996.
- Selected discography
- Nas Escobar, Foxy Brown, AZ, and Nature Present The Firm; The Album , Uni/Interscope, 1997.
- Ill Na Na , Def Jam, 1996.
- Chyna Doll , Def Jam, 1999.
May 26, 2006: Brown was ordered to stand trial on July 17, 2006, for assault. Source: USA Today, www.usatoday.com/life/people/2006-05-26-foxy-brown_x.htm, May 28, 2006.
- The Source , December 1997.
- Vibe , May 1996.
- The Village Voice , February 9, 1999.