Foxy Brown is an American rapper whose famous collaborations with the likes of LL Cool J and Jay Z put her on the map. She is one the most interesting and influential rappers of all time. The model, actress and rapper can still boast a substantial body of work and millions of records sold, and an incredible journey from from talent show to worldwide fame.
Foxy took her stage name from Pam Grier’s character in the 1974 blaxploitation film of the same name. She was born on September 6, 1978. Her mother, a teacher who hailed from Trinidad, named her Inga Fung Marchand and raised her as a single parent in the Park Slope and Prospect Heights area of Brooklyn after splitting from her husband when Brown was four.
Brown didn’t start rapping until she was 14, but by 15 she’d already achieved a huge breakthrough. She entered a local talent competition, grabbed the microphone on stage and performed a freestyle that impressed the production duo Trackmasters. Shortly after they invited her to guest on a remix they were making of LL Cool J’s 1995 single “I Shot Ya,” alongside Fat Joe, Keith Murray and Prodigy of Mobb Deep. Exalted company for an unknown rapper.
Such was the impact of Brown’s breakthrough verse that a slew of other artists and producers contacted her for guest rhymes in early 1996. She collaborated with Toni Braxton on “You’re Makin’ Me High” and with Jay Z for the hit single “Ain’t No Nigga,” joining him on his debut album at just 17 years of age. Her overnight success led to inevitable record label interest and she penned a deal with Def Jam in 1996.
Her debut album, Ill Na Na, was released on November in the same year, with most of the production handled by the Trackmasters duo of Poke and Tone, and heavyweight guest shots from Blackstreet, Method Man and Jay Z. Going on to sell over 3 million copies worldwide. Brown’s charisma and verbal aggression certainly carried the day. “Foxy Brown’s seductive, confident presence… makes it her own,” said Entertainment Weekly.
Another guest appearance — on the track “Affirmative Action” on Nas’ second studio album It Was Written — was the catalyst for formation of the rap “super-group” The Firm. The line-up of Nas, Foxy, Nature and AZ were joined by the producer Dr. Dre and Trackmasters for a heavily hyped long player, The Album, released in 1997.
Her second album, Chyna Doll, was released in early 1999, went platinum with a new production line-up including Swizz Beatz and a then-unknown Kanye West