Aside from being one of the most eventful years in the history of hip-hop overall, 1996 will also go down as a major turning point for the ladies putting in work behind the mic due to a slew of landmark releases. One of those influential albums was Foxy Brown's debut album, Ill Na Na, on Def Jam Records.
First discovered by Trackmasters after a performance at a local talent showcase in Brooklyn, N.Y., Brown would make waves shortly after appearing on a slew of remixes, including LL Cool J's "I Shot Ya," Toni Braxton's "You're Making Me High" and Total's "No One Else." The buzz created from these showings would result in a bidding war that would eventually be won by Def Jam Records, who inked Brown to a contract in March of 1996, officially setting in motion the recording of her debut album, Ill Na Na.
Continuing to make her mark with high profile features on Case's "Touch Me Tease Me" and Jay Z's "Ain't No N----," Brown would unleash Ill Na Na on Nov. 19, 1996, which debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 chart with 109,000 copies sold in the first week of release.
The platinum-selling Ill Na Na would be one of the premier releases of 1996 and would turn the teenage Brooklyn femme fatale into a sex symbol. To help celebrate the album's 20th anniversary, The Boombox gave Ill Na Na an intense round of spins and handpicked its five most memorable selections. Did your favorite tune make the cut?
"Fox Boogie Brown is bad as hell," Foxy Brown declares on "Foxy's Bells," one of the instant highlights from her debut album. Taking a stab at LL Cool J's classic version, Foxy Brown comes with her A-Game, rapping "Me and my Firm binos, rhyme to the death / The mahogany Mami, and shine like Pledge / Wouldn't suggest you try me, verses like Gianni / What? I hurt it on purpose like Bonnie" and manages to do the original justice. Getting wordy and dexterous throughout the course of the track's pair of verses, Foxy rises to the occasion on this superior track.
A sample of S.O.S Band's "No One's Gonna Love You" gets reworked on "No One's," which catches the Brooklyn rhymer reminiscing of her days pre-stardom and her swift rise to the top of the game. Produced by China Black & Divine Allah, "No One's" is one of the more introspective tunes on Ill Na Na. "Back in the days, maxes and cresses / Now it's 6's with chrome rellies, and BBSes / Undress this, no deal, no skills off this / And from where I was holdin, before this," she raps, giving insight into her humble beginnings. Featuring plush vocals, vintage sample loop, and Brown's remarkable flow, it's an enticing song from the project.
"Ill Na Na"Foxy Brown Featuring Method Man
Brooklyn and Staten Island connects as Foxy Brown links with Method Man for the title track. Produced by Shuga Bear, the song samples the Commodores' "Brick House." Rhyming "Yo Na Na so Ill, first week out / Shipped a half a mil, niggas freaked out / She's all about sex, pard-on, check your facts / And the track record, I'm all about plaques" Brown delivers some of the coldest bars on the album. With Method Man holding down the hook, Brown oozes with sex appeal. "Ill Na Na," is a quality offering with plenty of replay value two decades later.
"I'll Be"Foxy Brown Featuring Jay Z
After appearing alongside Jay Z on "Ain't No N----" from his debut album Reasonable Doubt, Brown enlisted Hov to play co-star on the track "I'll Be." Produced by Trackmasters, the song was the second single released in support of the project and continued her streak of hot tunes, grabbing the No. 2 slot on the Billboard Rap Charts, as well peaking at No. 7 on the Hot 100 chart. Finagling a sample of René & Angela's 1985 classic "I'll Be Good," Trackmasters delivered an undeniable banger to Fox Boogie, who - along with Jay Z - molded it into a rap banger and a standout track on Ill Na Na.
"Get You Home"Foxy Brown Featuring Blackstreet
Foxy Brown's claim to fame was her gruff voice and lyrical fervor, but she showed a rare glimpse of her more tender side on the first single released in support of Ill Na Na, "Get Me Home." Featuring R&B group Blackstreet on the hook, the BK native gets sensual atop a sample of Eugene Wilde's 1984 single, "Gotta Get You Home Tonight," with stellar results. Lines like 'Cross the room throwin signals I'm throwin em back / Flirt-in cause I, digs you like that/Peep baby boy style, hopin we match / He sent me Crown Royale with a note attached" sets the tone, as Fox Boogie coyly plays hard to get before giving in to her suitors advances, playing the perfect game of cat and mouse. While other singles were more commercially successful during the album's initial release, with 20 years worth of hindsight, "Get You Home" has proved to be the most indelible selection from Ill Na Na.
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