Deaf History Month 2012: Foxy Brown Suffers Loss, Bounces Back — Video
Wild antics and bold lyrics are synonymous with Foxy Brown but one aspect of her life that has slipped in and out of headlines is the rapper’s past hearing struggles. The Brooklyn native, born Inga Marchand, experienced the sensory loss for a full year back in 2005.
The day after she posed for a XXL cover shoot with Jay-Z, LeBron James and Kanye West, Foxy revealed that she’d lost all hearing in both ears. Rather than expose her ailment, she went on to self-medicate for four months before disclosing her handicap to the masses. Granted she had ear surgery the following year and made a complete recovery, but for 12 months, the ‘Ill Na Na’ creator had to rely on those around her in the studio to tap her shoulder to the rhythm. She had gone deaf but that didn’t stop her from working as if she could hear every snare, strum and cadence.
In honor of Deaf History Month — March 13 to April 15 — The BoomBox highlights the work of the MC who was once deaf. While we showcase noteworthy tracks from her own catalog, there are past collaborations as well. The rhymer faced trials and tribulations after enduring hearing loss, yet, in her own words, she was able to remain positive with support from her fans: “Through the rise and the fall, I love y’all.”
8. ‘I Shot Ya,’ LL Cool J Feat. Keith Murray, Prodigy, Fat Joe & Foxy Brown
Sixteen-year-old Inga Marchand had just slain the mic at a New York City talent show and caught the attention of the production team, The Trackmasters, who were working on LL Cool J‘s sixth studio album, ‘Mr. Smith,’ in 1995. The rugged voice and demeanor of the teenager coupled with her bloodthirsty delivery made the producers add her to the remix of the brutish cut, ‘I Shot Ya.’ Once the video dropped, everyone was shocked at the fact that it was indeed a very young lady anchoring the song between some hardcore verses.
Things had begun to move quickly by 1996. Foxy had just signed to Def Jam at age 17, and before long, the rapper and her raunchy lyrics were featured on every track that could possibly become a warm weather banger. The Brown Fox jumped on ‘Ain’t No’ with fellow Brooklynite and up-and-coming rhymer Jay-Z, who placed the song on his debut LP, ‘Reasonable Doubt,’ and quickly took guard of Foxy as his “Bonnie” of sorts.
6. ‘Get Home,’ Foxy Brown Feat. Blackstreet
As a result of some very smart planning, Foxy’s debut album, ‘Ill Na Na,’ was released during the fourth quarter of 1996, through Def Jam/Violator. This Blackstreet-assisted cut was her lead single, produced by the Trackmasters — team that discovered her two years prior — bringing everything full circle. Sidenote: Jay-Z is credited with writing the song.
5. ‘Big Bad Mama’ Feat. Dru Hill
In the summer of 1997, Foxy was at the helm of female rappers, providing summer jams for hip-hop enthusiasts to rock to. That July, her song with R&B group Dru Hill, ‘Big Bad Mamma,’ ended up being her second highest charting single during her solo career. The track was also featured on the soundtrack for the comedic film, ‘How to Be a Player.’
Foxy Brown was an unlikely fit when considered alongside the well-seasoned careers of Nas, AZ and Nature, but she held her own in The Firm. Cynics were astonished when the team released their LP, ‘The Firm: The Album,’ in 1997, and it soared to the top of the Billboard 200 and the R&B/Hip-Hop charts, peaking at No. 1. Subsequently, The Firm dissolved and the artists refocused on their individual careers.
In 1998, Foxy had grown even more accustomed to the music industry — a great thing. But she’d apparently forgotten how to make hits — a terrible thing. ‘Hot Spot’ was the lead single from her sophomore album, ‘Chyna Doll.’ It featured production from Irv Gotti but neither that nor Jay-Z’s co-writing credits could save her. ‘Hot Spot’ bombed, peaking only at 91 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
By 2001, Foxy had gone through more than her share of drama, some — if not most — of which she’d allegedly brought on herself. Somewhere after her hiatus, musical disappointments and between serious legal issues, she released her most personal body of work, ‘Broken Silence.’ It was introspective, heartbreaking and held a glimmer of hope for the young Brooklyn star. However, this third single, ‘Candy,’ which featured the singer Kelis, had none of that. The sugary sweet, poppy cut struggled its way up the Billboard Hip Hop/R&B chart, finally peaking at 48, but the streets hated it.
On ‘Broken Silence,’ Foxy Brown seemed to be more open about expressing the things she’d gone through as a young woman. She spoke about fears and insecurities on some cuts while somehow managing to keep her street sensibilities intact on others. On the booming single, ‘Oh Yeah,’ which featured her then-fiance, dancehall artist Spragga Benz, she revisits her Caribbean roots. Foxy used the reggae-tinged rhythm to brag and boast as rappers do and scored major radio play mainly on the East Coast.
See Photos of Hip-Hop and R&B Musicals Imagined