Today in Hip-Hop: Foxy Brown Drops ‘Ill Na Na’ Album
On this day, Nov. 19, in hip-hop history...
1996: In a year filled with blockbuster albums, Foxy Brown delivered a monster release with her debut album, Ill Na Na. Signing to Def Jam at age 17 after a heated bidding war, Foxy would put the finishing touches on the album, with production duo Trackmasters overseeing the project. The project, which arrived following several high-profile guest appearances by Brown (like her work on Jay Z's "Aint No Nigga"), hit shelves days after the Brooklyn native celebrated her 18th birthday. Ill Na Na was highly anticipated, evidenced by its debut at the No. 7 slot on the Billboard 200 with 109,000 copies sold in its first week.
Aside from the Trackmasters, who served as Executive Producers alongside Chris Lighty and Steve Stoute, Ill Na Na included production by Teddy Riley, Havoc, Rich Nice, Shuga Bear, China Black and Divine Allah. Being a high-profile release, Ill Na Na was sure to include more than a few notable guest appearances, and Foxy Brown didn't disappoint. She called in Jay Z, Method Man, Blackstreet and DJ Kid Capri to contribute to the proceedings.
Jay Z, who featured Foxy Brown on his single "Ain't No Nigga," appears on the album's smash single, "I'll Be," providing the hook and laying down a few slick rhymes to complement his co-star. The collaboration, which would skyrocket into the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, would solidify Hov and Foxy's chemistry and become the album's hit. R&B group Blackstreet help smooth out Ill Na Na with their plush vocals on the Ill Na Na standout "Get Me Home," while Method Man tackles hook duties while lending his voice to the album's title track.
Havoc, whose third album as a part of Mobb Deep, Hell on Earth, was released the same day as Ill Na Na, receives a production credit on the song "The Promise," and also lays down a verse of his own for good measure, DJ Kid Capri plays hypeman on the festive "Fox Boogie." But Ill Na Na is by no means an album reliant on guest stars, as Foxy Brown proves she is more than capable of holding her own on album standouts like "(Holy Matrimony) Letter to the Firm," the LL Cool J-inspired "Foxy's Bells," "If I..." and the reflective number "No One's." Upon its release, Ill Na Na would be a resounding success, moving more than a million units and establishing Foxy Brown as one of the leading ladies in rap. Mixing glossy singles with gritty mafioso tales and an ample dose of sex appeal, Ill Na Na is considered a classic release and birthed one of rap's most notorious divas.
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