Foxy Brown is in solitary confinement at Rikers Island, but her husky voice took over Chung King Studios in downtown Manhattan last night: "I still make the front-page news if I just sneeze!" Foxy, who's serving a year in prison for violating her probation (with seventy-six days in solitary for fighting), sets a fierce tone on "Rumors of Fox" from Brooklyn's Don Diva (Koch/Black Hand) with the brazen braggadocio fans have been waiting six years for.
Though she's been in the hole since October 23rd -- twenty-three hours a day, with one hour outside the cell for physical activity -- Foxy's still actively involved with the release of Don Diva (set to hit stores on February 5th), changing the album art and answering fan mail from inside. The label considers the street album a prelude to her long-awaited Black Roses. Don Diva, recorded before Brown was sentenced, encompasses Foxy's experiences over the past few years: the physical altercations, court dates, tabloid talk, going deaf, undergoing surgery, regaining her hearing. "It's about everything she went through," Mixtape MC and Black Hand labelmate Grafh explains. "It's gonna be the biggest comeback since Mimi.
The first few tracks sound like Grafh might be right. The insistent New York anthem "We Don't Surrender" is made for bumping full blast in grimy clubs and trucks. "We're On Fire" features Mavado's guttural chanting while Foxy raps in patois and reminds us that she's the "same bitch since before rap." Brown switches from salty to sugary on the radio-friendly first single "When the Lights Go Out," on which she rhymes fast about how you might get a sniff and lick of the Na Na.
The majority of the album is backed by Black Hand's in-house producers, and Don Diva leans towards mixtape quality in both sound and content. The standout track, "Star Cry" features Foxy at her best over a simple beat -- an unhurried delivery and introspective lyrics about the controversy she's endured. "Only black bitch to get press like the white bitches," she spits. "Look inside my soul, I'm just a little insecure, after thirteen years I feel I deserve more."
She may claim that she deserves more, but Foxy raps like she still has something to prove, boasting about the designer labels she wears and how long she's been in the game. "Gangsta Love" featuring Lil Mo and the reggae-inspired "Dreams" are both about being in love with men from the streets. "I'm addicted to drug dealers," Fox raps on the latter, "I used to fiend for the call." On the moody "Still Strugglin," Foxy goes from calling herself "the black Kim Kardashian" to revealing "I remember I was five when a nigga first put his hands on me."
If Foxy has this much to get off her chest after losing her hearing, imagine what she'll unleash after spending twenty-three hours a day alone, isolated in lockdown. "She's focused. Her spirits is high," says Foxy's manager Chaz Williams, who has filed for Brown's early release and hopes she'll be home by Christmas. "She surprises me sometimes."