NEW YORK — Speaking publicly about her hearing loss for the first time, Foxy Brown held a press conference Thursday where it was revealed that the rapper hasn’t heard another person’s voice for months and has needed someone to tap out beats on her shoulder when in the studio.
As she fought back tears, Brown delivered an emotional speech about the onset of her sudden, profound and severe hearing loss this past spring, while she was recording her forthcoming album, Black Roses.
Foxy revealed in October that she’d been diagnosed with severe and sudden sensorineural hearing loss in both ears. On Thursday Brown said she hasn’t heard another person’s voice in more than six months and that she’s spent “many confusing, agonizing nights crying in isolation and silence” with only “the voice of God in my ears as a vessel of inspiration. To suddenly lose your hearing after 10 years as a professional artist, I questioned God: ’Why me?’ ”
Foxy’s doctor, Laura Arias, said a team of surgeons would operate on Brown in January. While she wouldn’t discuss the procedure in detail, and when asked for Brown’s specific medical diagnosis stated simply that it was “profound, severe hearing loss,” Arias did explain that the surgery has been performed in the past on a number of patients with the same auditory affliction. Those individuals’ hearing, she said, was restored successfully, and she expects similar results for Foxy.
“She will hear again. She is a strong candidate for restoration,” the doctor proclaimed, adding that the recovery time following the operation differs from patient to patient but should be brief for Foxy. Brown has already undergone one surgery to correct her failed hearing.
Since Brown lost her hearing in May, she has communicated with others via handwritten notes and e-mails; she has not elected to wear a hearing aid. She’s learned how to read lips and can still speak quite well, Arias said.
For the moment, Brown said, completing Black Roses is the last thing on her mind. She said she’s excited to undergo surgery next month and will be “racing back to the studio the moment God affords me the opportunity to hear again.”
According to Doug E. Fresh — who was at Brown’s side Thursday, along with Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons and his wife, Kimora Lee Simmons; Brown’s attorney, Joseph Fleming; Hip-Hop Summit Action Network CEO Dr. Benjamin Chavis; and model Tyson Beckford — Brown first realized she was losing her hearing when Def Jam boss Jay-Z visited her in the studio. The levels, Fresh said, were “exploding loud,” and Jay wanted to know why. But to Brown, the levels seemed fine.
Fresh also said that when Brown was in the studio with Diddy recently to record a track for the upcoming Notorious B.I.G. album, Duets: The Final Chapter (see “Biggie Duets LP Features Eminem, Snoop, Tupac, Nas, Ludacris” ), someone had to tap the beat of the song on her shoulder, so that she could keep her rhymes on pace. The track didn’t make the album’s final cut, and Fresh said he wasn’t sure what would come of the tune, which might be used as a B-side to a Duets single or make its way onto Black Roses.
Earlier this month, Brown appeared in a New York courtroom for what was to be the start of her trial for assault and harassment charges stemming from an August 2004 dispute at a New York nail salon (see “Foxy Brown Pleads Not Guilty To Nail-Salon Assault” ). At that hearing Judge Melissa Jackson adjourned the proceedings until December 23 after Brown’s then-attorney, Joseph Tacopina, revealed that his client was almost totally deaf. Brown has since retained new counsel; Tacopina was let go for disclosing Brown’s condition.