Monday, August 04, 2008

Foxy Brown's Long Sad Story

On July 25, I reported here that Simon & Schuster had sued the rappers Foxy Brown and Lil' Kim for failing to deliver on the advances they'd been paid.

Four days later 101.1 The Beat printed Foxy's side of the story.

No one disputes these facts: S&S paid Foxy $75,000 as part of an agreement dated October 18, 2005 to produce a memoir to be titled Broken Silence with a deadline of February 1, 2006. She did not meet that deadline.

The stories diverge at this point. Reports say that about five months before signing the contract with S&S, Foxy began experiencing a hearing loss while working on her Black Roses video. Foxy's attorney indicates she was later diagnosed with severe deafness in both ears:
. . . attorney Laura Dilimetin tells AllHipHop.com, "With Simon & Schuster's blessings, Foxy Brown underwent extensive surgical procedures [in January, 2006] and a lengthy recovery time, fighting to restore her hearing."
Dilimetin claims that, following the surgery, the singer approached S&S, but that the publishing house had changed its mind about the project.

It's possible that Brown's claim that S&S changed its mind is true. Dilimetin mentioned Foxy's loss of hearing, but neglected to mention a few other details that might have led to the publisher's change of heart. I did a Google search on Foxy Brown, whose history is as colorful as her name.

Foxy has had a long record of behaving badly. Back in 1997, when she was seventeen, she was arrested in Raleigh, North Carolina on assault charges for spitting on two hotel workers when they told her they didn't have an iron available to give her.

In 2002, she was arrested at the airport in Kingston, Jamaica for an altercation with a police officer. She skipped out on her hearing, and Jamaica has made it plain they will arrest her if she ever returns to their island.

In August, 2004, Foxy got into an altercation with two manicurists in a Bloomie Nails salon when they charged her for both a manicure and a pedicure and she refused to pay for the manicure. She kicked one worker and hit the second one in the face.

On December 23, 2005--during the same month her attorney says that Foxy was diagnosed with severe sudden sensorineural hearing loss--she appeared in a Manhattan court to finalize her plea deal for the Bloomie Nails incident. Here is how CBS TV described the incident:
Judge Melissa Jackson thought Brown was chewing gum and asked her to get rid of it. Brown responded by opening her mouth and sticking her tongue out.

Judge Jackson ordered Brown cuffed to a bench for 15 minutes, but when a female court officer attempted to handcuff her they got into a heated exchange over a bracelet the rapper was wearing.

Judge Jackson alleged that Brown also struck the officer. When Brown refused to apologize, she was threatened with 30 days in jail. She gave in and apologized to the court. The confusion was that she stuck out her tongue to show that she had no gum, not to disrespect the judge.
In June of 2006, Simon & Schuster editor Tricia Boczkowski said in an interview that she was about to start work on Foxy's memoir so we have a clue that the publisher and rapper had not yet torn the sheets.

However, according to the documents here recently filed with the court on July 24, 2008, S&S sent a demand letter to Brown on July 20, 2006, terminating their agreement and asking for the $75,000 back.

Three days before S&S sent Brown the letter, the New York Post had run an article on Brown in their famous Page Six column. The story reported that Brown had fired her personal assistant, Rasheeda Ellis, who filed a claim in Jersey City Municipal Court, claiming Brown shorted her pay and then made terrorist threats when she tried to collect her back salary. Brown said she fired Ellis when she caught the girl leaking her emails to reporters. Both women failed to show up for a July 11 court date which was rescheduled for August 23.

August was a bad month for the hip hop diva. On August 23, Foxy missed a second court date in Jersey City.

On August 26, 2006, the New York Post reported that Brown had walked out of L'impasse, a Greenwich Village boutique, after pocketing two belts costing $400 each.

The incident happened on August 24th at 9:45 PM, after the store had already closed. Brown showed up at the door demanding back the lingerie she had dropped off the previous day to be altered. The owner of the store had given her a free leather dress when she dropped off the lingerie. After being told the lingerie was not yet ready, Brown began haggling over the price of a gold rhinestone belt for the leather dress. When she and the clerk could not come to terms, Brown stuffed the belt and another one into her purse and walked out. The store owner filed a complaint with the police.

On August 28, 2006, Foxy pled guilty to misdemeanor assault charges on that nail salon incident, but then tried to withdraw the plea. According to FoxNews, she tried to withdraw the plea when "she realized her sentence would include regular drug testing and anger management classes." In October, 2006, Judge Jackson refused to allow Foxy to withdraw the plea and placed the rapper on three years probation.

According to USA Today, on September 26, 2006, both Foxy and her former personal assistant, Rasheeda Ellis, "dropped the complaints in return for both sides agreeing not to have contact with each other and not to discuss the case in the media."

According to Vibe.com, Foxy was hauled back into court in mid-December, and "accused of failing to keep appointments with probation officers, appear for anger management classes and submit to drug tests." The judge let her go with a warning.

Her bad behavior didn't stop. According to Eonline.com, in January, 2007, "Brown was bounced from a Big Apple anger-management program for allegedly threatening a staffer."

Brown was next arrested on February 15, 2007 for an altercation in the washroom of Queen Beauty Supply Shop in Miami, Florida. The store's owner claimed he asked her to leave at closing time and said she refused, spitting on him and squirting him with a bottle of spray hair glue. The police were called and Brown fought with an officer.

According to Ill-Nana.net, "She was booked on battery and obstruction of justice charges and spent the night in jail before posting a $1,500 bond the following day."

That incident caused her problems in two states. New York ordered her back into court for violating her probation agreement by traveling out-of-state without permission. On March 1, she pleaded guilty of probation violation and the judge told her another violation would buy her a year in jail.

On March 22, 2007, a Broward County, Florida judge issued a warrant for Foxy's arrest for failure to appear in their court. On March 29, she appeared and pleaded not guilty. In May, she rejected a plea deal, and the judge ordered her to give a DNA sample so that the shirt the shop owner had turned over to the court could be tested to confirm the owner's contention that she had spit at him.

In May, a young mother called the police to report that Foxy had almost run her and her baby in a stroller down while driving her silver Range Rover through a New York intersection.

In June, Manhattan Judge Jackson praised Brown for keeping to the terms of her probation. But later that month she was in trouble again--for missing a probation appointment and turning up four hours late for a second one.

Weeks later, Foxy was in hot water yet again after a neighbor in Brooklyn accused her of assault. According to FoxNews:
Brown was arrested Tuesday [July 31] for allegedly assaulting Arlene Raymond, 25, who lives near the rapper in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn, on July 30. Police said the two women got into a fight over Brown blasting her car stereo.

Raymond alleged that a few days later, they passed each other on the street and Brown hurled her BlackBerry at her, cutting her lip and knocking a tooth loose.

Brown, whose real name is Inga Marchand, was released on $50,000 bail after her arraignment Tuesday on charges of felony assault, misdemeanor assault and criminal possession of a weapon.
Does it come as any shock to you that Brown and model Naomi Campbell are friends? According to Jossip.com: "When asked for a comment, Naomi Campbell replied 'Ha! That bitch is even crazier than me'!”

But wait! There's more. Like the old Popeil Pocket Fisherman ads, I'm not finished yet.

The same day of her arrest, Foxy was stopped by the police for running a stopsign in New Jersey while talking on her cell phone. The New York Times describes the traffic stop this way:
Russel J. Read, a police officer in Mahwah, N.J., testified that he had stopped Ms. Brown driving a gray Land Rover on Aug. 15 while talking on her cellphone . . . she made an illegal U-turn trying to evade him. She was driving with a suspended license and registration, he said.

The officer testified that Ms. Brown boasted that her father was the chief of an all-black law enforcement agency, that she was related to the hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons, and that “she was going to have my job.” She also accused him of stopping her for D.W.B., or “driving while black,” he said.
Judge Jackson ordered Foxy into jail until her next hearing.

Brown's attorney told the New York Post: "She's getting married, she's three months pregnant, she signed a record deal two weeks ago, and she is in contract for a reality TV show."

Despite Foxy's claims that she was suffering in Riker's Island, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Laura Ward denied her application for release.

Judge Jackson had run out of patience. On August 8, 2007, she told Brown she had acted as if her celebrity status placed her above the law.

Her attorney made no mention of any pregnancy at that hearing. Jossip.com reported: "Turns out it really wasn’t a baby so much as an unabashed plea for leniency. Thankfully neither the pregnancy nor the reduced punishment really panned out."

On September 7, Judge Jackson sentenced Brown to one year in jail to be served starting immediately.

On October 4, Brown announced a new website, FreeFoxyBrown.com, and that a new album Brooklyn's Don Diva would be released on November 20th, while she was still in jail. The album's release was twice delayed while she remained in jail, first to February and then to May.

The website Ill-Nana.netreported Brown was placed in solitary confinement on October 16:
Brown "was sentenced to 76 days of "punitive segregation" after committing three violations at Rikers Island this month. According to reports, the first incident occurred on Oct. 3, when Brown and another inmate allegedly engaged in a shoving match on their way to the dining hall. The next day, Brown was verbally abusive to a correction officer and refused to take a drug test.

The Department of Corrections at the Rose M. Singer facility, where Brown has been jailed since Aug. 22, reviewed the cases and sentenced her to solitary confinement. Brown spends 23 hours alone in her cell, and is allowed one hour each day to see visitors, meet with attorneys and engage in recreational activities."
Her manager claimed the entire solitary confinement ordeal was a mistake that resulted from her hearing impairment.

After forty days in solitary, Foxy was released back into the general population for "good behavior" according to Billboard.com.

On January 16, 2008, Foxy applied to the court for early release, claiming her hearing was deteriorating further while she was incarcerated and she risked going deaf. On January 24, the judge denied early release, saying Brown had not provided any proof of her claim that her hearing was at risk.

On April 18th, she was released from Riker's. All her previous remarks to the court about having learned her lesson were forgotten as she told supporters, "I did almost a year in prison, a year in prison, just because my name is Foxy Brown."

Apparently her eight months in the slammer left Foxy with little taste for another incarceration. On April 24, 2008, she accepted a plea deal to avoid jail time in the Florida assault incident. Instead of two years in jail she got six months probation, fifteen hours of community service and an order to write letters of apology to the store owner and employee.

On May 8, 2008, Brown pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of "menacing" in the incident where she hit her neighbor in the face with her Blackberry. According to MTV.com, "the plea deal allows the rapper . . . to avoid a felony assault charge."

The long-awaited album Brooklyn's Don Diva was released on
May 13, 2008. Rolling Stone gave it 2 1/2 stars out of five. The Village Voice said that Foxy " is proving to be her own worst enemy." RapSearch was probably the most blunt: ". . . for fans of Foxy, you could find some enjoyment, even if no one else would."

Given the history I've described here, Foxy's response was predictable. Blame someone else: "Unfortunately, during my incarceration, this CD was compiled without my approval. I heard this CD in its entirety, for the first time, just days ago and was devastated."

{sigh}

Re-reading this post, I'm mostly sad. This is an example of what happens when impulsive, ignorant children are given too much adulation and too much money at a young age. Brown was only sixteen when her debut album Ill Na Na went platinum and only nineteen when she became the first female rap artist to enter the Billboard 200 at #1 with her second album Chyna Doll in 1999.

I would have hoped that eight months away from her frenetic lifestyle would have given the Don Diva a chance for introspection, a chance to think about where's she's been and where she's going. In about a month she'll be 30. Like it or not, she's already likely lived a third of her life.

Wouldn't it be great if she could be known for something else during the middle phase of her life other than violence, narcissism and materialism?

Maybe then there'd be something fit for Simon & Schuster to print.