Foxy Brown has learned valuable lessons from pals such as multi-platinum
rappers Jay-Z and Puff Daddy. For one, the hard-as-press-on-nails diva
is well-versed in the art of employing a recognizable pop sample. She
also knows the street value of glittery champagne boasts and triple-X
But on her long-awaited sophomore album, Chyna Doll, Brown (Inga
Marchand), the 19-year-old MC who, along with Lil' Kim, has cornered the
market on sex-positive rhyming also proves -- in between steamy lyrics
and too many cameos -- that it isn't all bragging, balling, borrowing
and bitches. Her S's swirling like coiled snakes, Brown engages in the time-honored
tradition of lamenting the hip-hop high life in the snapping "My Life."
The song is anchored by a light, romantic acoustic guitar part and
propulsive drum-machine beat. Dropping into a breathy, vulnerable
whisper, she laments, "A black girl's ordeal/ Do you all know what it
feels like?" in between moving lyrics about suicidal thoughts and
Brown deploys two clever samples to anchor the album's bulls-eye
pop-rap tracks -- a remake of Gwen Guthrie's R&B hit "Ain't Nothin'
Goin' On But The Rent," reworked as "JOB"; and "I Can't," which samples
ex-Wham! member George Michael's "Everything She Wants." With hot young
R&B singer Mya providing backing vocals on the infectious
"JOB," the song bubbles along on the appropriately materialistic, Foxy
chorus/caveat, "no romance without finance."
The Puff Daddy-like first single, "Hot Spot," is gangsta disco for the
'90s, while the hard-core, down-and-dirty girl talk of "Tramp" cements
Brown's reputation as the most bad-ass tease in rap. The Prada-wearing
MC preaches to the converted in the spiteful, bouncing "Chyna White," a
romp in which she chops out boastful lyrics and steely-eyed lines that
equate a "bad bitch" with uncut dope. And just in case you still
haven't gotten the supremacy of the word "bitch" in this singer's
lexicon, Brown tosses "BWA" ("Bitches With Attitude") into the mix.
Unfortunately, Brown's overreliance on cameos partly undercuts such
bitch-centric bravado, as the collective bulk of Mia X, Too Short,
Beanie Siegel and Memphis Bleck threatens to bury the singer in generic
Proving that a little would have gone a long way, the most effective
cameo revisits one of the stand-out tracks from Brown's 1996 debut,
Ill Na Na. Featuring a pimpadelic Jay-Z trading life-of-crime
boasts with Brown and a horn-blasting sample of Angela Winbush's disco
hit "Secret Rendezvous," "Bonnie & Clyde Part II" is a surprisingly
moving, his-and-hers outlaw tale of guns and love. Rough-edge rapper DMX
also makes an unforgettable cameo on the grungy pop rap "Dog & Fox."
Growling over a bouncy, new-wavey keyboard loop, DMX trades sex-play
insults with Brown, who more than holds her own alongside DMX's
incessant growling and sampled shouts of "what?"