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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Billboard’s 2020 Power List Event Pins Leadership As The Music Industry’s Most Lucrative Tool

The start of a new decade inspired a change of plans for Billboard’s annual Power List. In previous years, the publication ranked 100 music industry professionals for their strides in the business by creating strategies that have propelled artists to the top of the charts and proved that the senior practices of the business can sometimes benefit from a fresh makeover. For 2020’s edition, the brand opted to not rank those chosen professionals but instead gathered and produced a list of honorees including Lyor Cohen (YouTube’s Global Head of Music), Roc Nation’s Jay-Z (Chairman), Desiree Perez (CEO), and Jay Brown (Vice Chairman) to Quality Control’s CEO Pierre “P” Thomas and COO Kevin “Coach K” Lee.

To a resounding applause inside the event’s NeueHouse location on a balmy Thursday evening (Jan. 23) in Los Angeles, Hannah Karp, Editorial Director of Billboard Media Group, explained the reason for the change and the company’s hope that next year will produce another list of futuristic innovators. “For one thing it’s always been hard to compare the power of executives in different sectors,” Karp said. “We also wanted to inspire a new generation of music business executives that honor leadership instead of just leverage.”

The first award of the night, which was named in honor of Jay Frank, a beloved music industry veteran who worked as senior vice president at Universal Music Group (UMG) before he passed away from cancer in 2019, was given to Mitchell Shymanskly, vice president of data and analytics at UMG, for his strides in digital music leadership.

“Jay was a visionary in our field, he saw things differently which is the true definition of an innovator,” he said. “He was looking constantly for an edge and it was a great privilege of mine to have the opportunity to work alongside him.” Shymanskly learned the mantra, “We don’t succeed alone.” That quote was echoed by Columbia Records chairman/CEO Ron Perry, who received the Breakthrough Award. He gave praise to his team for their work and success, especially after a year of witnessing Lil Nas X’s breakneck speed to pop stardom.

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Gerson also sits on the board of directors for She Is The Music (SITM), a program that promotes inclusivity in the music industry. Gerson revealed that UMG will donate $50,000 to the organization, which aims to provide resources for gender diversity in songwriting, producing, executive positions and more. In 2018, the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative conducted a study on the lack of women representation in the music sector. The research, which was published in 2018, concluded that for the year of 2017 out of 651 producers only two percent were women while men dominated at 98 percent. In the songwriting world, out of 2,767 credited songwriters, 12.3 percent were women while 87.7 percent were men.

Now, with new sights and plans set to change the makeup of the industry, Gerson reiterated that there's no better time than the present to implement new practices. “The moment of change is here.”

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Allen Berezovsky

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#HussleAndMotivate

A post shared by Lauren London (@laurenlondon) on Jan 23, 2020 at 5:56pm PST

Another image from the clothing collaboration shows London wearing a white sweatshirt with a message that reads, “We (The Marathon Clothing) honor the unwavering faith of those that never quit. Our products represent their testimony. Life is a marathon.”

A portion of the net proceeds from PUMA’s sales of the PUMA x TMC Collection will go directly to the Neighborhood “Nip” Foundation. Beginning February 1st, the collection will be available again in select retailers and on PUMA's official website.

 

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#HussleAndMotivate

A post shared by Lauren London (@laurenlondon) on Jan 23, 2020 at 5:58pm PST

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Lil Wayne performs at the 2019 Outside Lands music festival at Golden Gate Park on August 09, 2019 in San Francisco, California.
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Lil Wayne Reveals Release Date For ‘Funeral’ Album

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“Welcome to the funeral, closed casket as usual,” Tunechi says in the album teaser. The Grammy winner also tweeted a link for fans to pre-order physical and digital copies of the album as a CD, vinyl or “digital cassette.” The online shop features album merchandise, including long-sleeved shirts, hoodies and beanies.

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“...I can’t wait to get in the studio now every night, just to see what I can come up with. [Before] it was just me going to the studio and saying, let me kill ten more songs and then I’m going to go home or do whatever I was doing. Now, it’s let me see what I come up with. Self-discovery, rebirth – call it whatever you want to call it but it feels awesome, I swear to God.”

The New Orleans native’s last studio LP, Tha Carter V, dropped in 2018 after years of delays. In 2019, the 37-year-old rapper embarked on a joint summer tour with Blink-182, but the jaunt was marred by difficulty as Wayne walked off stage during one show and threatened to quit. He changed his mind hours later.

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Funeral drops on Jan. 31. Check out the album teaser below.

1/31 https://t.co/7VtPC39vT6 pic.twitter.com/FQrLNA8ptn

— Lil Wayne WEEZY F (@LilTunechi) January 23, 2020

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