By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
With a voice incisive enough to slice through Kevlar and a body that's more butter than Land O' Lakes, Bed-Stuy native Inga Marchand fuses equal parts LL Cool J braggadocio and early Boogie Down Productions' street sagas as rapper Foxy Brown. And with Broken Silence, her third album, Brown shows signs of becoming the female KRS-One, injecting her lyrics with equal parts taunt and reflection, giving Silence a moral ambiguity. The BDP savvy also comes into play when Brown opts for a Jamaican-inflected delivery on taut tracks such as "Tables Will Turn" and "Run Dem," recalling Harmony's sparkling, dance hall-powered guest appearances on BDP wallops like "7 Dee Jays."
But unlike Harmony, Brown doesn't have the pipes to cut it on R&B soul tracks like "Candy" (featuring a chorus crafted by Kelis), the misguided love-gone-wrong slow jam "Saddest Day" or the title track, a pop cut that pastes its pulse onto '80s outcasts Mr. Mister's "Broken Wings." Elsewhere, the soul sound serves her better when it merely sets a mood, as when Ron Isley's background vocals paint a funky cold patina in "The Letter," which recalls the down-tempo confessional silk of Eminem's "Stan."
Whereas Eminem's gift is exploiting his own media image with imaginative lyrics that reek of real-life drama, Brown's too tied to the old school to stretch truth into hyperbole. She's better off sticking to the basics, and when she does, Brown delivers terse jabs as coarse as Chester Himes' sentences. "BK Anthem" bustles along a bare bass bounce over which Brown belts Brooklyn street beefs like a wartime correspondent. Gospel representing sets the stage for the reggae call-and-response strut of "Oh Yeah," where Brown proves she's not "too pretty to bust rhymes this gritty." She sounds even more aggressive and assured in "730," dissing the player haters who think she spazzes out when life turns sour. But the track that really sets if off is fueled by Mystikal's vocal explosions. "'Bout My Paper" is a powerhouse procession of profanity about money-hungry bitches that'll never hit radio air waves but is one of the most throw-your-hands-in-the-air bombs this side of QB's Finest's "Oochie Wally." Brown wears this slap-my-bitch-up dress in the way the Destiny's Child gals fill out hot pants, and she sounds infinitely more confident and comfortable. Better still is when Brown boasts, "Real chunky/Niggas still want me," chalking one up for the luscious ladies who ain't afraid to roll curvy hips, thighs and all, and that takes it to the house better than any high-rolling trick daddy.
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