1995, the "Golden Age" of hip-hop. The attention is focused on important male figures releasing their projects the same year. Soul food by Goodie Mob; Mobb Deep's The Infamous; The Natural by Mic Geronimo; Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio; Return to the 36 chambers: the dirty version by O.D.B; Me against the world by 2Pac or Only Built 4 Cuban Linx by Chef Raekwon.
Indeed in an essentially masculine universe where virility is very important and where women are most of the time seen for pleasure only, we progressively see in reaction to the "ambient" misogyny the apparition of a new type of feemcees. A movement mostly embodied by Little Kim and Foxy Brown succeeding to artists such as Mc Lyte or YoYo. They helped make hip-hop history by showing females can rap with the same ease as men, use their image, talk freely about sex while serving the feminist cause. Some true amazons who deserve respect due to their strength and impertinence. Showing the path to others women who contribute to the existence of female rap nowadays.
BROOKLYN’S DON DIVAS
Name: Inga DeCarlo Fung « Foxy Brown » Marchand
Birth date: September 6th, 1979
Inga Marchand was born on September 6th, 1979 in Brooklyn, New-York. Keith Stahler, her father, abandoned her and the rest of his family to pursue his career at Erac recods. When she was a teenager she had no intention of being a rapper, even though the idea used to make her smile. In 1994 she won a talent contest and had to perform on stage, at this exact moment she knew she was made for it. Also at the same period, she was introduced thanks to her cousin (a dj and producer) Clark Kent, to a mc not very well-known at the time, but on his way to be a huge star : Jay-Z. Inga then decided to find a label : first off she signed with Capital Records, her alias was « Big Shorty » then « Aka ». But, she get dropped not long after. Then the rapper Red Hot Lover Tone introduced her to Puffy Combs who didn't seem really interested. But all those failures made her stonger and even more determined to succeed. In 1995 her wish came true, when the producer Trackmaster and the CEO of Violator Records, Chris Lighty decided to put her on the remix of LL Cool J's track « I Shot Ya » featuring Prodigy, Fat Joe and Keith Murray. Combine studio sessions and homeworks didn't discouraged the 16 years old girl who saw the experience as a challenge she was ready to take up. This is what she said in an interview for Vibe in 1999 “Everybody ran out of the room screaming like that shit was the bomb…I knew right then it was going to be on for me. I was a female truly rhyming with some real niggas.” The single charted #55 in Billboard and propelled Inga's career forward.
Deals, singles, everything happened really fast, between 1995 and 1996 Inga appeared on differents tracks : with Toni Braxton on the remix of « You’re makin’ me high », Case and Mary J Blige on « Touch me, Tease me » or Jay-z on the track « Aint no Nigga », the rapper fell in love with her verse.
During this period she also shaped her alter-ego "Foxy Brown". In the mid 90's the rookie contacted the actress Pam Grier aka "Foxy Brown", due to the name of her character in the 70's blaxploitation movie. During their conversation Inga asked her if she could use the pseudonym as her stage name. Everything makes sense, indeed in the movie Foxy Brown is a strong, rebellious and independant black woman. She uses her charm and sensuality to avenge her boyfriend killed by gangsters. A token gesture, because Pam made her promise to make of the name "Foxy Brown" something big, so when people will hear it they will instantly assimilate it to the rapper.
“Who’s got the illest pussy on the planet ? Sugar walls comin’ down niggas can’t stand it, the Ill Nana” – Method Man (Ill Nana)
11/19/96 - « Ill Nana » the album, Foxy Brown, Def Jams Records.
Inga's only 17, when her first debut album comes out. The tiltle is provocative and a reference to her private part. On the cover she's sitting on an indigo carpet, she's wearing a black dress showing her décolleté and her chain. Everything reminds me of an old Playboy cover. She's staring at us with a look full of sensuality, maturity and confidence, we're actually watching the split between Inga the teenager and the woman, Foxy Brown.
It has sold over a million copies and was certified platinum. Throughout the album we see a Foxy Brown with an obsession for sex and mafia, got a taste for luxury and who swears allegiance to her clique The Firm. Composed of Nas, Az and Nature their collaboration led to their first debut album in 1997 « The Firm : The Album » produced by Dr Dre.
With her album « Ill Nana » she managed to establish her reputation. Her attitude, her deep voice and her flow, all those things helped her deliver amazing bars with an ease never seen before. Trackmaster's productions are also the reason why the album is now a classic. Same for Foxy's verses on « Ill be » featuring Jay-z, the track « Get me home » with Blackstreet, « Big Bad Mama » added in 1997 and Method Man's hook on « Ill Nana » : « Who’s got the illest pussy on the planet ? Sugar walls comin’ down niggas can’t stand it, the Ill Na Na ».
The album came out exactly one week after Lil' Kim's debut album.