Foxy Brown exploded onto the rap scene in the mid-1990s as the chocolate-skinned, sexually provocative female counter to the male-dominated East Coast mafioso rap. Though she was brash and brazen in her rhymes, some fans didn’t realize that the tough-talking Brooklynite was only a teenager when she made her debut in 1995. In a rare interview, Foxy, now in her mid-30s, appeared on “The Combat Jack Show” and revealed where she developed her image and her provocative nickname — “Ill Na Na.”
“[It all happened] when I realized I had that power — when I got that nickname, ‘the ill na na,’ and when I started to rap. I said, ‘That’s the name I want to incorporate with [me], publicly, in front of millions of people,'” Foxy explained. “The power. The statement. [I was] so young — 15 [years old]. The statement that it made though … ‘Her name is Foxy Brown,’ who, of course, I had to ask permission from — the O.G. Foxy Brown, Pam Grier.”
Foxy states that she reached out to the veteran actress out of respect. Grier famously starred as the titular character in the 1974 blaxploitation film Foxy Brown.
“When you come from class, you call and ask permission,” explained Foxy. “You don’t just jack [the name].”
“I was 15 years old and she told me, ‘The only way you can have it [is to elevate it]. I’ve done damage to this name,'” Foxy shared. “In the ’70s, she was … every dude wanted to [have sex] with her and every girl wanted to be her. That’s the bottom line. She told me, ‘I want you to make your Foxy bigger than my Foxy! Meaning, when they say the name ‘Foxy Brown,’ they think of you and not me.’ When they say Foxy Brown now, who do they think about?”