We all know Foxy Brown as the multi-platinum recording artist who brought us the sultry “Get Me Home” and strip club fave “Touch Me Tease Me,” who took her name in homage of Pam Grier’s character—only after calling to ask permission to use the moniker. But do we know the heroine’s journey and what it took to get to her legendary status?
After winning talent contests for rapping at age 15, she caught the ear of the Trackmasters production team, who invited her to rap over LL COOL J’s song “I Shot Ya,”where she spit “ooh I’m jinglin’ baby/I got crazy Dominicans who pay me” and later “sexin’ raw dog without protection” with all the bravado we want in our rap heroes.
She signed with Def Jam in ’96 at the age of 17, was mentored by JAY-Z and debuted with the platinum-selling album Ill Nana. As part of the Hip-Hop supergroup The Firm (with Naz, AZ and Nature), she then released The Album, followed by her own full-lengths Chyna Doll and Broken Silence.
History now hails Foxy Brown and Lil Kim as MCs who broke what Billboard called “the hypermasculinity” barrier, with lyrics as raw and images as sexy as they wanted to be, but it hasn’t been a golden pathway sprinkled with fairy dust for Foxy.
Inga DeCarlo Fung Marchand, this daughter of West Indian/Trinidadian parents from Park Slope, Brooklyn, was born with the right attributes and attitude to allow her to take the sword and slay the dragons that came her way.
Here are four things you might not know about the legend in honor of Women's History Month.
Inga DeCarlo Fung Marchand borrowed her moniker Foxy Brown from the 1974 film Foxy Brown where Pam Grier plays the sexy, empowered heroine—the film’s namesake. When she was 15, out of respect the rapper asked for the actor’s blessing to use the name and in interviews she says she was told ‘the only way you can have it is to elevate it.’
2. Locked in History
The Unstoppable Def Jam Sampler Tape featuring a comic book-like illustration of Foxy Brown is stored in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s archives, so her image will live in infamy. The 1997 cassette is one of five limited edition comps featuring Def Jam artists and includes her gangsta love cut, "Holy Matrimony (Letter to The Firm)."
3. She Was Deaf for a Year
Just as the Def Jam artist was scheduled to release her fifth solo studio album, Black Roses, she went deaf for real, experiencing unexplained sudden hearing loss. “I woke up [on a Thursday morning] and couldn’t hear anything,” Foxy told Mo’Nique on the Mo’Nique Show on BET. Thanks to ear surgery, Brown’s hearing all came back in 2006, after which she was reportedly working on her next album, Ill Nana 2: The Fever, but label and personal legal disputes seem to have gotten in the way. Still, Nicky Minaj called her “the most influential female rapper” and her silky bass-heavy flow obviously still holds weight as one of the greats, so hopefully these are just bumps in the road.
4. The Ill Nana is a Mama
Brown gave birth to her daughter C’yani in March of 2017, insinuating many times on social media that Jamaican dancehall star Spragga Benz is the father. No doubt the girl is dripped in Gabbana and clearly the apple of her mother’s eye, because her Instagram’s steadily blown up with love bombs. Lucky girl, getting lullabies or maybe inspiring a whole new batch of rhymes? Whenever Foxy’s ready, fans are ready to get our swerve on.