Foxy Brown : Broken Silence

Foxy ain't going nowhere, as this ace new missive proves...

Sometimes, the distance between a person as the artist and as the human being can lead to distress. Inga Marchand has created Foxy Brown, only to find herself almost consumed by her rap alter-ego. She's had a major relationship bust-up, an armed robbery at her Brooklyn home, run-ins with the cops, a supposed altercation with former best friend Lil' Kim, and even been hospitalised for an overdose of pills, all directly or indirectly connected with her no-bullshit rude-talking ghetto persona as Foxy Brown. And she's barely in her twenties...

To think the dam wouldn't burst and everything pour out on her hew album would be fanciful. Foxy Brown comes back snarling, all but blasting at all and sundry with her verbals, and takes time to be reflective as well. The melancholy, depression, and sheer desperation inherent in the central triptych of 'Fallin'', the reggaefied 'Saddest Day', and the closing 'Broken Wings' (which uses the same Mr Mister hook/loop employed on 2 Pac's 'Until The End Of Time') is obviously a by-product of her pain and struggles. Yet, Fox has mostly returned to rock and literally shock the house.

There's a musical openness here, handled with glossy aplomb by various producers, that throws up a rich patchwork seam of reggae, calypso, string-drenched funk and straight-up hiphop. 'Hood Scriptures' has a brilliant Asian sample loop that reflects the diversity of the 'hood, while 'BK Anthem' is just that. What gives 'Broken Silence' an edge not immediately apparent on some of the smoother tracks is Foxy's readiness to lapse into Caribbean patois, a device that often takes her to new heights of rudeness.

The guest artists also seem to have been picked to complement Foxy Brown, rather than as examples of corporate horse-trading. Whether it's with a typically deranged Mystikal on ''Bout My Paper', or in combination with Baby Cham and Wayne Wonder ('Tables Will Turn' and 'Saddest Day', respectively) she more than holds her own. Older hiphop heads might miss the sheer original breathless verbal flow that ran words around each other, at the time of the underrated The Firm project, but this new Foxy has lots going for her too. And she's gonna be around for a lot longer than people expected.

Dele Fadele
7 / 10

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