Da Brat certainly likes to keep us guessing. One minute she's dressing in baggy jeans like Master P, then she's decked out like Lil' Kim (that body! Who knew?). She says she has her temper under control — then, in March, she was accused (falsely, she says) of pistol-whipping a woman in an Atlanta club. A few years ago, she was coyly ambivalent about her sexuality; suddenly it's raining men. With her new image comes an exuberant new album, Unrestricted — a raunchy romp through sex, clubbing, money, smoking weed, jealousy and relationships – which entered the R&B/Hip-hop chart at Number One and remains in the Billboard 200's Top Ten. In addition to her recent tour opening for Mariah Carey, she has read for a Spike Lee movie, filmed a TV pilot, started a record label called Throwin' Tantrums and — why not? — is looking to start a modeling agency.
How did you celebrate when your album debuted at Number One?
Oh, man, I almost did back flips and cartwheels. I got some Cristal and drank the $250 champagne. I'm really grateful. I am really blessed. Usually I try not to pay attention to the charts, because I don't want to be like, "Damn, I came in at Number 237." [Laughs] But I'm really proud of this album, because I wrote all the verses myself.
It's hard to hear you, because your call waiting keeps breaking in.
I get between fifty and sixty calls a day, and I get maybe 100 pages a day. I'm looking at my pager, and I have 260 messages saved. Everybody has my beeper number.
The song "F**k You" is about a man who is with another girl but is looking you up and down. This must happen to you all the time.
Yeah, and it's not my fault. I don't give a fuck. "Fuck you!" You know, "Don't be mad at me. That's just the way life is. Some people have more, some people have less. Don't be mad if I'm cute and your man looks at me. It ain't my fault."
On your single "That's What I'm Looking For," you say women need "a big bankroll and a bag of weed." Tell me, would you ever go out with a man who's sweet but broke?
No, no, no. Because I have needs of my own, and if I can't get something, I want to be able to ask him to get it. I mean, being sweet is one thing, but having a little loot is another. I like the combination.
We hear you're getting a ton of TV and film offers.
I'm going to be on the season premiere of V.I.P., with Pamela Anderson Lee and Natalie Raitano. I think I'm going to play a villain or something. It's like family on the show. We all talk on the phone; they're cool. They came to a Mariah show and hung out. Natalie's going to have a party called Ho's Up, Pimps Down, and we all going to dress up like pimps.
It looks like you've been working out.
Every day I try to get at least an hour or two on the treadmill. And seeing the end results is the best thing. The thing is, I didn't starve myself. I didn't stop drinking, you know what I mean? If you deprive yourself of the things you like to do, then it makes it more like a job.
If you had to show a person around your hometown of Chicago for one day, where would you take them?
Wow. There's so many things to do! First I'd bring them to my house to let my grandma cook for them.
She's a good cook?
[Rapturously] Oh, Jesus, yes. If it was breakfast, those home potatoes and eggs with this stuff called poke salad. I don't know what it is, but it's almost like spinach, and my grandma grows it in her garden. Oh, God. Spaghetti casserole. Shrimp. After that — it's horrible to sleep after you eat, but you almost have to take a nap after her meal. [Pause] Oh, my God, I don't mean to be distracted, but I never saw Toni Braxton's new video! It's on BET. Robin Givens is in it! Toni looks great. [Yells] Oh, that dress is hot! Toni is killin' 'em! She's back, party people!
What's the most memorable thing that a fan has done to get your attention?
I had a guy write his name and number on the front and back of ten $100 bills. Caught my damn attention.
Is there anyone you're in awe of?
Prince. I was totally in awe when I met him. I felt like a groupie. I saw him at the airport in New York. And I think he don't let people touch him. And when you write the interview, just put "melting" next to me saying that. Melting. [Melting] Oh, my goodness. His hair is so bouncy. Whoever his hairstylist is is amazing.
What's this about you starting a modeling agency?
Right now I'm signed with Willhemina. And I have beautiful friends. This beauty has got to be displayed, so I'm talking to Willhemina about my own little entity. But I'm doing one thing at a time.
Are you having as good a time as you seem to be?
Life is what you make it. Right now, I'm having a ball. I love performing, rapping; I love people recognizing my talent. My dream came true, and now I'm trying to take it further, so that when I'm fifty I won't be Brat anymore; I'll be somewhere laying up, collecting money, driving Rolls-Royces and taking care of my friends and family that I love.