Foxy Brown 'Ill Na Na' cover Foxy Brown 'Ill Na Na' cover

What Millennials Should Know About... Foxy Brown 'Ill Na Na'

To celebrate Black Music Month, VIBE spotlights some of music's most essential timepieces for Gen Y to get hip to

FOXY BROWN
Ill Na Na (1996)

Most Slept On: It’s strange that the title track to Foxy’s landmark album would also be the song most slept-on. Ill Na Na was never released as an official single and although Method Man appears on the song, there was no video for the track.

The level of sex-fueled braggadocio on "Ill Na Na" is dizzying, (and just a bit disconcerting, considering Foxy was barely seventeen when she recorded it). Thematically, she’s all over the place on her verses, shutting down fellow rappers who think they can compete and then putting her boo in his place if he thinks she’s coming straight home from the club.

(She actually talks about leaving for a ladies' night out while her man is standing by the microwave cooking. She kisses the baby goodnight and then says she might be coming home later. She was seventeen! When I was seventeen I was still wondering if I should make an emergency breakthrough on Darnell’s phone because I was getting a busy signal. Wait. Y’all millennials don’t know about emergency breakthroughs do you?! Ah well. It was a Thing. Trust me. )

Think of the song "Ill Na Na" this way. There’s a verse in the late Maya Angelou’s classic poem, “Still I Rise,” in which she says:

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Foxy Brown’s "Ill Na Na" track is essentially that Maya Angelou verse, except with a foul mouth, a ‘90s spin and a sample of The Commodores “Brickhouse.”

The message, hammered home by Method Man in the chorus, is simple: My vagina is better than any other vagina in the whole wide world and it is so special that it will intoxicate you and make you buy me nice things. The end.

It wasn’t the first time a female rapper raised eyebrows by spitting about the diamond at the meeting of her thighs. But her brusque and gruff delivery and true ability to spit as well as her male contemporaries gave the song sit-up-and-take-notice status.

Lines Best For Status Updates:
-“She’s all about sex?/Pardon, check your facts/and the track record/I’m all about plaques" (“Ill Na Na”)
- “Leave my boo by the microwave/kiss the baby goodnight/it's my time to shine/it's playtime tonight” (“Ill Na Na”)
- “I push the V/Not the backseat girl” (“I’ll Be”)
- “To the tilt/that’s just the way I‘m built/Nasty/But classy still” (“I’ll Be”)
-“I realized you was misleading me/I should have known/You left the last chick to be with me” (“If I”)
-“Ladies take this oath from Fox/repeat this/love thy self put no one above thee/cause ain’t nobody gon’ love me like me” (“I’ll Be”)
-“Marry who? Daddy please/I’m taking it all from the stash to the keys” (“Get You Home”)
-"If I could take this back I would/If I could rewind the time to when it was all good/I would" (“If I”)
-"While I’m getting dressed/This ain’t yo pad/I left some money on the dresser/find you a cab" (“Ill Na Na”)

Bet You Didn’t Know: Although Foxy’s beef with fellow sexpot rapper Lil Kim has been well documented, the two started out as friends. In fact, on the song Ill Na Na, Foxy name-checks her future frenemy: Loving this life/waiting for Kim album to drop/knowing it’s tight.

Bet You (Also) Didn’t Know: Foxy recorded that line before Kim’s album was released but Lil Kim’s debut Hard Core actually ended up dropping exactly one week before Ill Na Na. The competing release dates and in fighting from their camps is often cited as the reason for their initial riff.

Synopsis: Imagine a 16 year-old girl free-styling in a talent show and catching the ear of a few producers. And now imagine those producers put her on a posse-track with the hottest rappers out right now, maybe Kendrick, J. Cole, Drake and Jay Z. And imagine she rips it. To the point that no one is talking about anything but her and her deep-throated growl. That’s what happened in 1995 when Foxy Brown appeared out of the clear blue sky on LL Cool J’s remix to “I Shot Ya.” The song was stacked with vets like Prodigy and Fat Joe but all anyone could talk about was the girl who rapped hard enough to hold her own. (Fourteen years later, Nicki Minaj would replay this exact feat, when she introduced herself to the world by going toe-to-toe with (and outshining) Jay-Z, Rick Ross and Kanye West on "Monster".)

After the success of "I Shot Ya," Foxy quickly racked up hits with Toni Braxton, Case, Jay Z and BlackStreet, becoming a hip-hop household name before she even had a deal.

Ill Na Na as a whole doesn’t quite stack up to the flurry of buzzy singles Foxy dropped before she started recording her debut album. But taken at face value, Ill Na Na remains a tour-de-force. Foxy was by no means the first female rapper to get respect from her male counterparts. Latifah, MC Lyte and Roxanne Shante were all able to stake their claim as purely dope rappers, not just dope female rappers. But Foxy was one of the first to garner respect (and lust) in and out of the booth.—Aliya S. King

Aliya S. King's is the author of two novels and three non-fiction books, including the New York Times Bestseller, Keep The Faith, with recording artist Faith Evans. She had written for VIBE since 1998. Find her at aliyasking.com and @aliyasking.

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Pharrell's New Netflix Kids' Series Focuses On Importance Of STEAM Learning

Pharrell Williams is the executive producer of a new children’s show on Netflix that focuses on educating little ones on the importance of science, technology and current events.

“I got involved with ‘Brainchild’ because there is a desperate need to raise awareness about the importance of science with our youth, we must edu-tain,” Williams told Variety about his new series. The show is hosted by Indian-American actress and comedian Sahana Srinivasan.

Brainchild will use “interactive games, experiments and skits” to teach and highlight the “core concepts and principles of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math).” It was co-created by Atomic Entertainment, and is billed as a spinoff of the Emmy-nominated show “Brain Games,” which aired on National Geographic Channel for seven seasons.

Williams and his i am OTHER production partner Mimi Valdes also discussed the idea of the show’s accessibility for teachers and students. Per Variety, “The curriculum is available without having to sign up or register for any account, and can be used at home or in the classroom to supplement existing tools.”

“It’s especially important to me to get STEAM-focused programming in front of minority communities,” Pharrell says of attempting to reach viewers. “That’s because at the core of the plight of children of color in this country is a lack of access to actionable education.”

 

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Prepare to have your minds blown 🧠⚡🌊💖💡🔬 I worked with the masterminds of Brain Games on a show that will empower kids by approaching STEM topics in a cool, new way and to provide anOTHER way into science. Thank you to our host @Sahana.j.shree, @AlieWard, Atomic Entertainment, @i_am_other and the @Netflix team. Brainchild OUT NOW on Netflix. #brainchild

A post shared by Pharrell Williams (@pharrell) on Nov 2, 2018 at 2:01pm PDT

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Jacquees Blames 'Hater' DJ Mustard For The Removal Of His 'Trip' Remix

DJ Mustard, the producer of Ella Mai’s “Trip,” is responding to reports that he was “hating” on Jacquees, who famously deleted his “quemix” of the aforementioned song. Jacquees visited the L.A. radio show Big Boy’s Neighborhood, where he discussed the controversy behind deleting his version of the popular track from the Internet.

“Really, DJ Mustard hated on me, no cap, that was crazy,” he told the hosts about the issues at hand. “I wanna work with DJ Mustard too, but that was a hating move.” The release of his popular version sparked rumors that the “Boo’d Up” musician was jealous of the 4275 artist’s success with his version.

Mustard, who founded Mai’s label 10 Summers, commented on Instagram about his feelings on the R&B star’s latest comments. "That n***a Big Boy said ‘it was really goin’ too!'” he laughed in a video shared to his IG Story. “You stupid ni**a," he continued.

Last year, Mustard wrote on Twitter that if a song that the artist doesn’t own is monetized, it’s stealing and “no one steals from 10 Summers.”

“This is simply a press or marketing plan, or some strategy to deviate from the narrative that Ella is breaking records left and right because the music she’s making is cutting through straight to fans at a rate people haven’t seen in years,” he continued. “Ella’s career started by doing covers and we support all her fans and fellow artists doing the same.”

To whom it may concern . pic.twitter.com/w3lzuU5tqM

— Mustard (@mustard) September 26, 2018

I’m not going to blogs or any media outlets to address this Jacquees situation ima address it right here and after this we will never address anything like this again I’m just tired of people picking on @ellamai !

— Mustard (@mustard) September 26, 2018

 

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#PressPlay: #DJMustard responds after #Jacquees talks about his #Trip remix getting removed!! (SWIPE)—(📹: @bigboysneighborhood)

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'Black Monday' Becomes A Dramedy As Its World Flips Upside Down: Episode 9 Recap

Blair was Mo’s mirror in episode “295.” In this week’s episode, he internalizes Mo’s qualities, and now the reflection wants to take over the original’s life, like a scene from Jordan Peele’s Us. Some of the most analytically rich parts of this episode revolve around all the allusions to Blair assuming Mo's role after agreeing to go along with the Georgina Play, two months after Mo informed him of the rouse.

Blair flirts with Dawn – the woman Mo still loves – while sitting in Mo's desk chair as Mo walks in and sees them. He gifts all of the Jammer Group inner circle with replicas of Mo's custom-made Rolex and calls them “Molexes” with "f**k em all" engraved on them. It’s the latter mantra that, in a surprising twist, leads to Blair potentially ending Mo as we know him.

An early criticism of Black Monday was Andrew Rannells’ inconsequential portrayal of Blair in the first few episodes. After carrying a large number of scenes in last week’s episode, this week’s showcases his shining moment. One of the funniest scenes s when Blair stops himself from saying "it's all good in the hood," after glancing at Mo, before replacing "hood" with "municipalities." That’s a very artful way to say if he wants to be Mo, he’ll have to do more than speak like him. Consequently, Blair does just that in order to get Tiffany Georgina to go along with the Georgina Play.

The Agency Of Tiffany Georgina

Casey Wilson, who plays Tiffany, needs to star in a spin-off show if for nothing else than to see her do another interpretive dance routine to a remixed version of the national anthem like she did at Tiffany’s wedding reception. We predicted in our review of episode “243” that Tiffany would have a bigger hand in the Black Monday collapse than we originally assumed, and this episode brings our prophecy to life.

Tiffany admits to Blair in the final scene of the episode that she’s a lot to handle but poignantly justifies it by stating everyone isn’t as sure of themselves as she is. It’s in that moment we realized out of all of the characters with considerable screen time, Tiffany may be the only one who never lied about herself. The comments about smart “orientals” are vacuous and her obsession with social status is asinine, but they’re also genuinely Tiffany; Everyone else adjusts their morals and personality to fit whatever gets them money.

Tiffany also reveals that when she was in sixth grade, her parents prevented her from legally emancipating herself from them by giving her a cartilage piercing and a new credit card. In episode “243,” when Blair innocuously says he’s staying late at work to do “compliance,” Tiffany instinctively knew that meant illegally shredding documents because her family is wealthy. Tiffany’s parents had their own daughter kidnapped in last week’s episode to boost the company’s value and now their daughter plans to steal that very company from them. The Black Monday writers used the Georgina family this season as a commentary on how money can make anything transactional, even love and loyalty.

Just like with Mo, the Georgina family may be undone by a monster they created.

The Dramedy

In today’s age of television, shows rarely fit perfectly in one genre. Orange Is The New Black’s second season was nominated in the drama category at the 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards, a year after its first season was nominated in the comedy category. This blurring of the artistic lines has created a new type of show that is equal parts drama and comedy: a dramedy. After the last two episodes, Black Monday has become more dramedy than comedy.

In the first half of the season, Black Monday was roughly 90% hilarious debauchery with the 10% of deep introspection reserved for the final minutes of the episode. Over time, that ratio began to even out until last week’s episode, which delivered the highest concentration of drama acting of the season. In this week’s episode, the double and triple crossings in Blair and Mo’s heated rivalry are more central to the episode than Keith’s hysterical attempts at tricking the SEC and Tiffany’s ridiculous wedding. Aside from Dawn and Mo forming a secret alliance, the episode concludes with Blair’s most intimidating piece of dialogue as he breaks down the illusionary world Mo has constructed for himself.

While episode “7042” is the most compelling episode of the entire season, so far, the move into dramedy has its drawbacks. There are still gems like Mo’s double entendre of “I’ve unearthed secrets, got winded and fired,” a play on the name of legendary funk band Earth, Wind & Fire, who released their 1987 Billboard hit “System of Survival” a month before the events in this week’s episode. But, the hijinks and absurdist humor that Black Monday is predicated on are more separated than in any other episode.

As a result of this shift into dramedy, certain jokes not only fall flat but feel out of place and tonally different than the rest of the episode. Keith referring to the ability to know who is gay as “Navi-gay-tion” would be amusing in almost any other Black Monday episode. Him delivering it at the end of this week’s episode, after a dramatic exchange between Dawn and Mo, felt cringeworthy.

Hopefully, there’ll be plenty to laugh about when everything comes crashing down in the season finale next week.

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