A Fox In Sheeps Clothing
At the early age of 15 Inga introduced herself to the public as Foxy Brown. Now, eight years have past and five albums are in the books and she is only 23 years old. With almost 10 years of greatness, is Foxy ready to call it quits? She admits she is ready to settle down and have a baby. She also knows the pressure is on to produce a hot ass album. So much pressures that P. Diddy is executive producer of Ill Naanaa 2. It's pretty hard to imagine Puff and Foxy not winning together. This maybe the glorious way to end a career. We grew to know Fox and Jay-Z, grew to love Fox and Nas, and we will grow to respect Fox and Puff. Foxy is again ready to shut the door on the rest of the female rappers; why can't we all just get along?
F.E.D.S.: What's going on Foxy, tell us what you've been up to?
Grinding, just basically trying to to get my name back, trying to let them know where it all started from. There are a lot of female rappers right now, I'm just trying to show the people the difference between me and what will always set me apart from all other female rappers. The aura that I have, and the mystique about Foxy Brown. The last album only went gold., so I'm coming in and picking up where I left off. I'm going in now with my brothers, we got the label "Ill Na Na Entertainment", a joint venture with Def Jam.
F.E.D.S.: How did that situation come about?
Well I was actually going to leave Def Jam and go to Bad Boy. I was leaving, and I always dealt with Puff. Actually a lot of female rappers owe their careers to me, because if I would have signed to Puff from the begining, know what I mean. So, I didn't sign with Puff, I signed with Def Jam basically because Russell had more longevity. thought I would have more leverage over there at the time. Even though I signed with Def jam, Puff and I still had a good friendship. The last album, "The Streets", everybody felt like they didn't (Def Jam) promote it right, so Puff was like, "Yo I'll buy you out, let's do it right." We fit with each other. We were both very controversial. we had both been up and been down. I'm here sitting back watching other female rappers they're not even believable. It's like "Where are you even from?" Everything was all wrong. I couldn't have it anymore. So I went into Def Jam like, "I need a subsidiary." A joint venture, and they gave it to me.
F.E.D.S.: Let's take it back to young Foxy, how was your childhood growing up?
It was ill. My mother was a single parent, but we lived in a house. I'm the only girl, I have two older brothers. We lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn. It's not the hood hood, but we always traveled to the hood. I had a pretty good upbringing. My mothers a teacher. I never lived in the projects, but I had the heart of a female who did have it rough. I was always too outspoken, and a little too blunt for my own good. That's what made the niggaz take to me, but the females never really liked me.
F.E.D.S.: What inspired you to want to become a rapper?
I can't even remember. My parents are from Trinidad, we didn't even listen to hip-hop like that. It really wasn't playing in my house like that. DJ Clark Kent was like family to me. He was my cousin's best-friend, and they used to always be cutting, playing records. Tone from Track Masters lived next door to us, and we were all family, and I was like the little sister to everyone. I was writing little rhymes, but always going hardcore. I remember sitting there with Pooh (he was my manager from day one), and asking me shit like "What's an eight ball?". Always inquisitive about shit like that. I put it in my first rhyme on "Affirmative Action". I was 15 doing that. That was unheard of from anyone especially from a 15 yrs old. Clark Kent introduced me to Jay-Z when I was 14 or 15 years old. Me and Jay decided to be the Bonnie & Clyde of rap and it worked. We did "Ain't No Nigga", which was the first record. I did it for no money. I was 16 when it dropped. I had to leave High School. It started getting a little crazy and I started slacking in the classes.
F.E.D.S.: How old are you now?
Im 23 years old. That's the real age, not no bullshit like some females be hollering 23 and are like 30. I'm 23, and I'm still the youngest female rapper in the game.
F.E.D.S.: Whose decision was it for you to choose Def Jam as your record label?
It was crazy because when I first signed, I was going to stay with Jay-Z, but he was with Priority, and he did not have his situation right back then. Def Jam came, Puff came, and Jimmy Iovine came (Interscope). So I narrowed it down to Def Jam and Puff. Jay was like go ahead and do it because I can't do it right now. So I went to Def Jam and I put my contract that whatever I do we had to have a Bonnie & Clyde record. I felt I owed him that much for just fucking with me. I believe in loyalty!!
F.E.D.S.: I know you feel a little bitter about the current situation between you and Jay. Tell us a little about that?
I don't really feel bitter, I just feel like me and Duke came up together. But no one owes me anything. Like niggaz can say what they want, but I'm the reason Duke even signed to Def Jam. They weren't fucking with Jay before that, niggaz can attest to that. When "Ain't No Nigga" was poppin' I had to leave recording my album to go on the road with Jay, because the promoters wouldn't book him without me. I wasn't getting anything, but it didn't matter because that was my nigga. It could never be beef between us because we weren't rappers who met. Jay and I really came from Shawn and Inga. So it could never be anything but love. It's just I can't fuck with Duke. But for real Duke is a genius when it comes to his shit. It hurts when I see him because I want to hug him, but it doesn't feel the same. He signed Amil and tried to replace me, but it got laughed at. It's hard for female rappers, you can't only look good. Niggaz got to also believe you. Niggaz got to want to fuck you, and bitches got to want to be you. It's a whole package that goes with it. "MY BROTHERS ARE MY LIFE SUPPORT, I WOULDN'T KNOW HALF OF MY SHIT IF IT WASN'T FOR THEM. THEY ARE GOING TO BE HERE FOREVER, THEY ARE MY BLOOD!!" Me and Kim came in at the same time and we made it hard for female rappers to break in. She disses me every chance she gets, but I can't front because she was there also. When me and Kim came out everybody all of a sudden wanted a female in their crew. It's like you believed Big and Kim, you believed me and Jay. You believed we carried their guns around in our Chanel purses. You can't believe Eve is doing that for DMX. That's just not believable. You were placed there because Duke was hot. We really had to grind. I had to be in the studio with Jay, lyrically he's the best, my shit had to be tight.
F.E.D.S.: What are some of the things you learned from being in the game for nine years?
First, there is no loyalty in the game. Now I'm learning to appreciate the money end of it. There are people behind the scenes who got to slave and sweat in hot offices, while we're in air conditioned studios dropping a few verses. A lot of people don't get a second chance and I got a second chance, so I feel blessed.
F.E.D.S.: It's rough for females in this industry because men are always trying to take adventage. Did it help any coming under two brothers?
My brothers are my life support, I wouldn't know half of my shit if it wasn't for them. Anton is like the laid back one, no one knew he was my brother until this year, and he's been in the industry for a while now over at Interscope. Now Gavin, he's in the Bentley, he got the ice on, he got the Fox tattoo. He's like, "I'm here even if she doesn't sell any records." They are going to be here forever, they're my blood!!
F.E.D.S.: What would you tell the young females who want to be a rapper?
Listen, it's hard. I know the political answer would be to strive hard and don't let anybody stop you. But it's crazy. Everything has always been a road block for me. I've been Bonnie to Jay, and in the Firm with Nas. I've been blessed to be with two of the greatest rappers in history and to be on the greatest rap label of all time. Even now Puff is executive producing this album. For real, you got to be an ill bitch to have the best niggaz wanting to fuck with you.
F.E.D.S.: How did the Firm come about?
AZ and I always knew each other from Brooklyn, and he brought Nas. We were all in the studio and we instantly clicked. That shit was easy. We were watching the Firm movie and came up with the name. Nas was the leader of the crew, but I don't think he was really ready to lead at that time.
F.E.D.S.: How's your relationship now with Nas & AZ?
I just spoke to Nas yesterday and AZ is my baby forever.
F.E.D.S.: When you started falling, which artists helped you out?
Nore, that nigga I ride for. When shit was hectic, they weren't playing my records, the label wasn't returning my calls, I was in the hospital, it was crazy. Nore was like, "Yo I can't let them destroy one of the greatest female rappers to ever touch the mic. Fuck that, come to the studio." He said, "Yo, I'm going to let you say whatever and I'll co-sign it". We did "Bang Bang" that night. That shit was a street banger. From that point on, Nore always fucked with me. So when it was my turn to get back poppin', it was only right for Nore to be on "Burberry". That's the loyalty a lot of niggas don't have in the game.
F.E.D.S.: How did you get involved in the fashion?
I don't know, but that's what I always tried to do was send them to the stores. And that's why I went back to that "Burberry".
F.E.D.S.: What was the budget going for back then for those shopping sprees?
The budget--Russell used to give me the American Express. Def jam was really linient, he would throw me the Black American Express.
F.E.D.S.: There's always a lot of shit on the rumor block concerning Foxy.
Yeah I just read in the papers that Foxy joined Ja Rule and Nas in dissing Jay-Z. I've never been one to join anyone. My situation with Jay-Z is me and him. I never dickride anybody! No one has ever seen me play another rapper close. Shit is crazy. This shit does not last. I went from three platinum to gold.
F.E.D.S.: Does that humble you as an artist?
Hell yeah, it opened my eyes and matured me a lot. I always felt like I'm good, Jay got me. If I don't want to go to the studio to write, Jay will write it, Nas will write it. I'm being real with ya'll. I turned around and looked, and those niggaz were gone. I was like, "Oh shit!" I had to fend for myself, basically. People need to really understand, who's dick riding who. Jay was fucking with me, now everybody wants a Jay-Z record. I do Calvin Klein, now everybody wants to do clothes. I came out hood first. I did "I Shot Ya" with five niggas; Fat Joe, Prodigy, Keith Murray, LL and bodied everybody. I love all them, but I came through and shined. This album is bananas, "Ill Na Na 2 Da Fever". I said I got to do this magazine because this shit is street right here. Can I talk about my brother for a second? My brother--that nigga ya'll don't understand. That nigga held my hand in the hospital like "Get up man, we can't fall. This can't happen". He would bring my notebook to the hospital and bring me beats to rhyme to. He was like, "I can't see you fall." with tears in his eyes. I get emotional whenever I talk about it.
F.E.D.S.: What female rapper do you get along with now?
I love Charli Baltimore. Last year I called Charlie up. What I like about her, she was always fly without a deal. I didn't see her a lot, but when I did see her she had a good boot on, a nice fur. She was fresh. It was like everybody was killing her. Kim was killing her, the papers were killing her. Nobody gave her a fair shot. I felt bad for her. So I called her in Philly. I said get on the turnpike, I want to do a joint with you. She was like, "Word?". I said I want you to get on this DJ Envy mix tape with me. She came up in like an hour. I put on the beat, she went in. I said, go ahead, I'm co-signing she wrote it right there. Crazy. From what I understand Envy was mixing the record and Irv Gotti came up to the studio and was like, "Yo that's Charlie, she's signed". I'm real proud of her. She's hungry.
F.E.D.S.: Which other female rappers would you say you even respect?
Lauren Hill, that's it. Other than that, none!! Oh, I like Lady May too. She and I speak. Lauren is my girl. Remember, me and her came in two dark skinned girls. Back then dark skinned wasn't in, but now you see every video has something dark in it. We broke a lot of barriers. I'm proud.
F.E.D.S.: We know you are from Brooklyn, tell us some of your memories of Biggie.
I loved Big. His family is Jamaican and my family is Trinidadian. We lived like a couple of blocks away from each other. Ya'll can question Un Rivera about this article. Big was the first one like, "For real, I want shorty on the mafia". I want Fox in Junior Mafia, clearly. Like let's not get that twisted. Un will tell you, Daddy-O will tell you, Kedar was the lawyer back in the days. Big was like shorty is bananas, but I stayed with Jay. Jay was my nigga. It became more of a friendly competition with him and Kim. I don't see where the hate came from with Kim. Personally I don't think nobody can fuck with her. We both got that Brooklyn in us. She got Big in her, and I got Jay and Nas in me. When I hear Kim spitting crazy, I feel good. I'm ready to go in the studio to lay shit down. If me and Kim could get together no female rapper would be able to rap again. But shorty wouldn't do it. I'm like, "Let's get this paper." But I got Puff now. I got the best of both world's now! I'm signed with Def Jam, but I'm a Bad Boy. I'm the female with Puff.
F.E.D.S.: Was Def Jam kosher with that?
It don't go down without Jaz Young at Def Jam. Jaz has to be apart of everything. She's been with me since the first day I signed (at 15). But it's only right because Puff wanted me from the begining.
F.E.D.S.: The word around is, the street team at Def Jam really didn't fuck with you and didn't put a muscle into your projects?
Yep, I felt because I came up and said what I wanted, they didn't like that. If I was a nigga, I'll be like a female Damon Dash. Like him or not, you have to respect him because he is about his business. Now they are respecting me a lot more at 23 then they did at 15.
F.E.D.S.: So when are we going to hear about some babies or something that is going to slow foxy down?
Man, I want a baby this year. I've been trying. Can you imagine a little Foxy?
F.E.D.S.: How tough is it for you to find a man? Or are men scared to approach you?
When I got in the industry till about 20 years old I was with Kurupt. After that, I got into another relationship. I never did do the dating shit.