Foxy Brown talks her relationships with her father and other men, changing the rap game as a brown skinned girl, her friendships with Lauryn Hill & Nicki Minaj, her mess-ups and the mature place she’s in now.
Read the highlights below:
On growing up as an educated good girl who turned “bad” with street guys:
“There was something that intrigued me about the projects. I didn’t come from that. I grew up in Park Slope in a brownstone. My parents were hard working Trinidadians and I was raised by an educator (my mother). My brothers were ball players. I used to go to my girlfriends’ houses in East NY and BedStuy after school (when I was like 14) and there would be the guys parked on the corner in the Mercedes 190 E. Witht he mesh tank tops. That’s the scene I would go to and that would be my escape.”
On dating Haitian Jack (legendary gangster who stong-armed himself into Jimmy Henchman’s, Tupac’s, and Biggie’s circles) when she was just 14 and 15-years-old:
“At that time, light skin chicks were in. I came in and changed that. I met him in East NY and he was like who is this dark shorty? Clear skin, hair is kinda good. I just knew OF the legend of “Haitian Jack.” He took me to Jacob’s (Jacob the Jeweler) the first time we met. I started out EARLY. And once a good girl’s gone bad, she’s gone forever. But he was that street dude who could still take me to my meetings with Lyor Cohen and with American Express while he’s wearing his snakeskin boots. He always taught me to ‘stay in my mirrors’.”
On growing up insecure about her dark skin
Lauryn [Hill] came in first as the dark skin chick on the scene. And the dark skin she represented was more natural and beautiful. Light skin, long hair…cool. No disrespect to light skin women. But when you see a bad, dark skin chocolate chick, it’s like Wow. I absolutely was not always comfortable in my skin. Lauryn and I used to talk about that all the time. I had the worst insecurity. My mother is very light skin from Trinidad and my brothers are too and I’m the only one in my family who is dark, besides my dad. My mom always tried to make me feel better by saying she wanted to go to the beach to get darker. But I think we all have that..even my nieces who are dark have that innate insecurity. I also always had keen features so…
On first discovering her power with rap
I discovered it when my dad up and left. My parents divorced and he left at a really early age. I have two brothers and I’m the baby. They tried t fill the void but couldn’t. When he left, he started getting high and it got really bad. I used to come off tour and roll up to his welding shop and he would be shriveled up sitting on a crate. And that hurt me. But he was still my King. When I look back at the guys I’ve dated, I picked some crazy ones. And it’s because I was rebelling. My pops just left…and left me to find out from these dudes how I should be treated. So I said, I’m going to flip it and do THEM dirty. So I got that power and got that nickname “Ill Na Na”. And the statement that made when I was so young…. I had to get permission from the OG Foxy Brown to use her name. There’s no way I would use Pam Grier’s name without asking her first. And she told me to take the name and make it bigger than her.
On who influenced her to start her hip hop career
I was totally into dancehall back then. Not even hip hop. But the only one who did it for me, who was the dark skinned one who was educated and had all the dudes on her and didn’t care what chicks said–was Roxanne Shante.
She’s my big sister to this day. No disrespect to other females, but Roxanne did it for me. It was the power she had–the crazy fur, the chocolate skin, and she would open her mouth and be so articulate. And at that moment I knew that’s what I wanted.
On physical abuse and not having a father shielding her from the harshness of the business
“Yeah, me and my girlfriends went through the same thing. We thought that was the guy who loved us, the ones who got physical. He’s getting physical so…
But I started to know that was wrong when I did the cover of New York Magazine in 2005. Four of us did it–Beyonce, myself, Star Jones and Teri Woods, the author. Not sure why they pulled us four, but they said we were all at the top of our game. Star and Beyonce had their dads there, Teri and I didn’t. We were asked if it made a difference that even though we’re all here in the same place in our careers, that we didn’t have our dads but Beyonce and STar did. Beyonce was asked if it helped having Mr. Knowles there taking all the shots and covering up your boo boos and saying “Oh it’s OK baby” when you got hurt. And instead of (like Foxy) having to take all the shots herself. And Beyonce said, “Absolutely.” And she said it made her know which men to allow in next to her. The father sets the bar so high, so the dude knows what he has to measure up to be.”
On if she made Jay relevant with “Aint No N*gga”
I always have to correct people about this. Jay was always Jay. He was that dude whether he was going out of town or on the streets. When I came in, I don’t think Jay saw past the streets and “Can’t Knock The Hustle.” When my records crossed over and went pop and went #1 all over, like our “Aint No N*gga”, the format of that record is so hip hop. It changed him. My allegiance to Jay is so real I just knew I had to be there and be on stage with him at his shows. I’ll always do that.
On her current relationship with Jay-Z
Jay doesn’t allow ANYONE around him who causes discord. That’s why he is where he is now. When I read his book Decoded, I said, if there’s any young black dude out here who doesn’t look up to this dude, something’s wrong. He’s a street dude and he took the shots. And he’s leading by example. I didn’t have a female to say to me “this is what it is” while I was coming up. So I tell every young dude to pick up this book. The first thing Jay did when he was named President of Def Jam, he reached back and signed me–the person who he started with. He’s never said not one bad thing about me. So when that false story came out about me talking about him, it’s like, why would I say those things about him?
On the completely fabricated story about Foxy supposedly speaking badly about Jay and Beyonce in a book
“I stood up for him and Bey because I love both of them. That took me back. I was ready to lace my Timbs up and go back to old Inga because it was so disrespectful. The slander. It was disrespectful to me and all of the people who have done things for me. Do you understand I can hear now because of Jay-Z?” [Foxy got emotional and broke down and said she needed to go to a break]
“….People believed something that wasn’t even a story, it never was said. It’s not about immortalizing Jay, it’s about me having a reputation. I’m always coy about my personal life. There was no story, no audio, no interview….just someone maybe in Milwaukee somewhere just made up some story. When a story is saying YOU said someone like transvestites and someone gave you Herpes…when you’re insulting people’s families that’s a different level. Jay-Z is someone who I love and respect dearly and he’s always been nothing but great to me and my family period. Beyonce has been nothing but classy and sweet and loving and respectful to me. Those are my friends. They were disrespected. I was disrespected.
I come from a time of real journalism and now, this new day in age someone can just sit behind a computer and say whatever. Even the tone of the article was so ill-written. The words and grammar used, it’s not even me. My mom is an educator. And anyone who knows me knew immediately I don’t speak like that. And all these little hip hop sites just ran with it…”
On her longtime friendship with Nicki Minaj
“She and I had a conversation because I see so much of me in her. I said, “I took the shots….I kicked the doors down and opened them back up…I did the jail time…and I’ve made a ton of mistakes.” I sit back and laugh at all these girls calling themselves a “bad girl.” And no shots at Rihanna. I love her and she supported me when she posted that pic of me and Kate Moss for W from a long time ago. I was a REAL bad girl. I took the shots. I was sassy and wouldn’t take any sh*t from anyone. It wasn’t concocted and it wasn’t fake. So I tell Nicki she doesn’t have to do that. Lil Kim and I came in and changed the landscape. There have been many girls after that who have tried to do the same thing. But they’re coming out with a group of guys and just putting on a bikini. So I tell Nicki she doesn’t have to do all that, she’s amazing and talented. She can do it herself.”
On losing her hearing
The next morning after finalizing her and Jay’s “Come Fly With Me” track, it was being sent to Z100 and they were gearing up to shoot the video in 2 days–which she knew would be their biggest track: [Very emotional] “I woke up the next morning and couldn’t hear anything. Jay is the first person I told. We had what we knew what be the biggest pop record, and we couldn’t tell anybody. We had just shot the cover of XXL–President Carter and his cabinet. Foxy, LeBron, Kanye, us four on the cover and I was the first lady. Jay said he’s going to put his entire life….” [Foxy breaks down again]
It was a quiet that will drive your crazy. I had to mentally flip it to my advantage and make it work for me. I knew I would never find that type of quiet peace with hearing, so I would read and let it soak in. I told Jay I lost my hearing the morning of my aunt’s funeral who died from cancer. Jay was leaving the country that day but he came to the funeral anyway. I got on my knees and prayed since my relationship with God supersedes all of this. I felt like I let everybody down. Jay whispered something in my ear and I had to tell him I couldn’t hear him. I had to eulogize my favorite aunt that day and I had to tell him I couldn’t go in there. I’ve never seen him that emotional before. He said I need to man up RIGHT NOW and go back into that funeral. I had to soldier up. I even had to read the lips of my family–everyone was talking to me at this funeral and I couldn’t hear them and they didn’t know.