Fox on the Run

Brown reminds me of Tupac. She has the same Hamlet-like combo of Thanatos and Eros, recklessness and introspection. She's as much troubled as trouble doll, but the two are usually related, cause and effect. "My Life" makes an open appeal to Lil' Kim, but then Brown ends the album with an attack on mistresses that seems pointed, especially since Foxy's been bigging up Faith Evans in interviews. Brown's a bundle of contradiction—she has none of her namesake's sure moral direction.

In Foxy Brown the movie, Brown's brother Link explains why he leads a life of crime. "I'm a black man, and I don't know how to sing, and I don't know how to dance, and I don't know how to preach to no congregation. I'm too small to be no football hero, and I'm too ugly to be elected mayor. Honey, I watch TV, and I see all the people in all them fine homes they live in, and all them nice cars they drive. And I get all full of ambition. Now you tell me what I'm supposed to do with all this ambition I got."

Ambition. It drives Link to betray his sister, but of course it's not really ambition: it's envy and greed. Nowadays, Link could have had the car and house by doing exactly what he did—laying a rap. Inga Marchand must have everything she always wanted, and a few things she never did. And yet on Chyna Doll, she remakes Gwen Guthrie's "Ain't Nothing Going on but the Rent" as if the bottom line were still her bottom line. Hip-hop has created a world where the chronically disenfranchised can actually lead fantasy lives. That are still fantasies—"Sometimes I want to slit my wrists in my life y'all," Brown confesses. What are her alternatives? There's nothing as annoying as material girls all of a sudden getting spiritual, but it beats being a Hollywood tragedy. Beneath the Hills, there's the valley of the (chyna) dolls. Money rules the world, yes; that's why you can't.

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