On Friday (April 18), an hour after being sprung from New York's Rikers Island, where she served eight months of her year-long sentence for probation violations, rapper Foxy Brown spoke exclusively to MTV News, calling from a white Bentley, in which a celebration was already underway. Amid whoops of joy and jubilant conversations with friends, Foxy said prison was a life-changing experience for her.
"Oh man, it feels effin' incredible!" she said, explaining that she couldn't curse because her mother was in the car with her. "I'm so excited and so happy. I'm so happy to be home. My freedom. I have a whole newfound respect for my freedom. Little things I would take for granted. I'm like, 'Oh my God, a Snickers bar, oh my God!' It's an incredible feeling. I feel really good."
Brown (born Inga Marchand) suffers from hearing loss and relied on manager Chaz Williams to repeat the questions for her, but no interpretation was needed to gauge the rapper's relief at leaving her prison cell behind. Asked where her first destination would be on Friday afternoon, Foxy said, "I really, really want to go to church first and get it right with God. It's only through His grace that I was able to survive this, and I want to get down on my knees and thank Him ... and then it's on!"
On her list of other things to do: Hit the studio, attend a few welcome-home parties and, from the sound of the frantic conversation in the car, find a place to eat lunch, since, with the Pope in town, it was going to be hard to fight cross-town traffic to get to her first choice, Chinese restaurant Chin Chin.
The most difficult part of being in prison, the 29-year-old MC said, was overcoming others' perceptions of who the real Inga Marchand is versus the character of Foxy Brown.
"The hardest part was people's perceptions of me," she said. "I had officers who were wonderful and the inmates showed me — you'd think Barack [Obama] was in the building when I walked through. They showed so much love, it was so incredible. But I had situations with officers who, you know, only went by what they read on [the New York Post's gossip column] Page Six. And then they would get to know me and say, 'Oh my God, she's so sweet and she's so nice.' At the end of the day, they're like, 'We really love you,' and it was a great experience."
For Brown, there is a clear separation between her celebrity persona and the real woman who was locked down for most of the past year, 76 days of which she spent in solitary confinement after an altercation and for reportedly being verbally abusive to prison staff and refusing to take random drug tests.
"While I was incarcerated, I was Inga," she said. "There was no Christian Louboutin boots; there was no Fendi bags. It was just me. I had no nails on. It was just literally me in the flesh. I guess that was the hardest part, just even with Foxy trying to find Inga."
With a new album on the way and her legal troubles mostly behind her, Brown said she was feeling positive and had learned from her mistakes. "I feel really good about my growth, and I feel change is the essence of maturation," she said. "And I feel that I went through an enormous change, and I'm really excited. I've definitely learned [from my past mistakes]. Just having better judgment."
And though she served her time and didn't complain about the conditions, the rapper still couldn't help feeling that she might have gotten the Foxy Brown sentence and not the Inga Marchand one. "If you really, really, really look at the situation," she said. "I did not deserve a sentence that harsh. I really didn't."