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Brooklyn’s Don Diva: The Best of Foxy Brown

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Brooklyn’s Don Diva: The Best of Foxy Brown

Foxy Brown 3By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

For various reasons, Foxy Brown has been in the headlines. With crazy rumors flying around about her, Foxy Brown came out to set the record straight. All controversy aside, Foxy Brown helped usher in the female renaissance in the 1990s for hip hop. A legend in the game, Foxy Brown has dropped four albums over the years.

Emerging on the scene in 1995 alongside Jay-Z, Foxy Brown created an illustrious career that gets overlooked by the masses. Surely, there are many other femcees who have set records and there is room for them all. With femcees making a comeback in the game, of course the focus has to shift to Foxy Brown.

Because of the high volume of rappers in the game, it is easy to overlook some. It has been five years since Foxy Brown released Brooklyn’s Don Diva, her fourth studio album. Since Foxy Brown is back in the headlines, Hip Hop Vibe decided to showcase some of her best work since her debut, eighteen years ago.

Watch the music videos from Foxy Brown below:

“I Shot Ya” by LL Cool J ft. Keith Murray, Mobb Deep, Fat Joe, and Foxy Brown

When LL Cool J made his return in 1995, with Mr. Smith, he decided to keep it straight hip hop. Posse cuts are just as old as hip hop, itself, so LL Cool J began uniting all of the top emcees in the game on one track and a vibrant newcomer. LL Cool J started this with the remix of “I Shot Ya.” The song features Keith Murray, who appeared on the original version, alongside Mobb Deep, Fat Joe, and a fresh-faced fifteen year old girl, Foxy Brown. Though she is credited for debuting alongside Jay-Z on “Ain’t No Nigga,” Foxy Brown first debuted alongside LL Cool J on this classic record.

“Ain’t No Nigga” by Jay-Z ft. Foxy Brown 

This is when most feel they were introduced to Foxy Brown and it was when the masses learned of her. For sure, most know this is their first proper introduction to Jay-Z. In the case of Foxy Brown, the stage was set for her Def Jam debut, Ill Na Na, which was released in the fall of 1996, months after Jay-Z dropped his debut album. From this moment on, it was clear Foxy Brown had a position in the game for the foreseeable future.

“I’ll Be” by Foxy Brown ft. Jay-Z

After explosive cameos on many major singles, the world was ready to see how Foxy Brown would do as a solo artist. In the height of the “shiny suit” era of hip hop, Foxy Brown delivered “I’ll Be.” It is hard to categorize this song, but it is the epitome of 1990s hip hop and established Foxy Brown as a viable lead artist. Ill Na Na propelled to platinum status on the strength of such singles as “I’ll Be” and it looked as if Foxy Brown and Jay-Z would be hip hop’s Bonnie and Clyde during this period of time.

“Affirmative Action” by The Firm (Nas, Cormega, AZ, and Foxy Brown)

The Firm had all the potential in the world, but it never quite came to be. A lot of debuts took place in 1996, but none of them were as major as Foxy Brown. Delivering heat in her solo releases, which were widely accepted by the hip hop world, Foxy Brown also dominated her collaborations. Nas noticed Foxy Brown and he got her for his It Was Written sophomore album, pairing her with AZ and Cormega for his “Affirmative Action” single, which birth the ill-fated Firm. Foxy Brown stole the show on almost every song she appeared on and this continued on “Affirmative Action.”

“Get Me Home” by Foxy Brown ft. Blackstreet

As a solo artist, it truly began for Foxy Brown when she released “Get Me Home” with Blackstreet. With Blackstreet at the height of their popularity, Foxy Brown featured them on the lead single of Ill Na Na. While she had a strong string of guest verses under her belt, Foxy first showed her skills as a lead artist with “Get Me Home.” Clearly a commercial-driven song, Foxy Brown rocked it and made it where the streets could connect with the song and it is considered a classic years after its 1996 release.

“(Always Be My) Sunshine” by Jay-Z ft. Foxy Brown

So what if shiny suits were not for Jay-Z? Signing with Def Jam after releasing Reasonable Doubt, he immediately got to work on his sophomore album, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1. Starting this album out, he got Babyface for his lead single, “(Always Be My) Sunshine” and he shared the song with Foxy Brown. At the time, they had the makings of hip hop’s Bonnie and Clyde. Despite the widespread panning of this single, it remains a favorite in retrospect. Still, the future looked bright and fans expected more Foxy Brown/Jay-Z collaborations, but this did not end up happening.

“Touch Me, Tease Me” by Case ft. Foxy Brown and Mary J. Blige

There is much more to Foxy Brown than 1996, but she came out of the gate strong. She was on records with everybody and she also lent her vocals to Case for his “Touch Me, Tease Me” single that also featured Mary J. Blige. The song only featured Foxy Brown on the Intro and the Outro, but she had her impact on the song. There are several songs that are replayed during the noon throwbacks on the radio and “Touch Me, Tease Me” is one of them and it gets people to think back on the talent that Foxy Brown truly is.

“Big Bad Mamma” by Foxy Brown ft. Dru Hill

Foxy Brown had a niche when it came to rapping alongside R&B males. Though she could do almost anything, her biggest hits early in her career came with her baritone voice alongside smooth vocals from a male singer. With Ill Na Na being released late in 1996, the album continued to receive play in 1997. Her run continued with the help of Dru Hill, who appeared on her “Big Bad Mamma” single that was included on the Ill Na Na re-release. She originally recorded this song for the How to be a Player soundtrack. Regardless, the song remains another classic from Foxy Brown.

“BK Anthem” by Foxy Brown

Though Foxy Brown had commercial appeal, she was indeed a hardcore emcee. While 1996 was a strong debut year for her, Foxy Brown continued her run into the 2000s, with Broken Silence. This was her third studio album and the lead single was the “BK Anthem,” which displayed Foxy Brown taking it back to her roots as the hardcore chick we were introduced to on LL Cool J’s “I Shot Ya.” Her career went through many changes, but this song remains a classic, especially to those who are actually from Brooklyn.

“I Can’t” by Foxy Brown ft. Total

Among the more memorable songs from Foxy Brown is her “I Can’t” single. With a Marvin Gaye sample to boot, she linked with Total for “I Can’t.” Detailing being cheated on and how to move on Foxy Brown had styles for days. There are many rappers who had runs and deserve that legendary status. Foxy Brown earned her stripes with such singles as “I Can’t,” which is taken from her sophomore album, Chyna Doll. This song came out in the summer of 1999 and continued the run for Foxy Brown.

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