[ARTIST] Da Brat
On April 14, a star was born. Shawntae Harris better known by her stage name “Da Brat” is an American rapper and actress. Her debut album, Funkdafied (1994), sold one million copies, making her the first female solo rap act to have a platinum-selling album and the second overall female rap act (solo or group) after Salt N Pepa. Harris is the younger half-sister of actress Lisa Raye McCoy. She lived part of the time with her mother and grandmother and attended a strict Pentecostal church four times a week, where she sang in the choir. She also lived with her father and his mother, where she had fewer restrictions. Harris attended Kenwood Academy during the 1990-1991 school years, where she ran track and played basketball. She graduated from Academy of Scholastic Achievement, a continuation charter school that caters to at-risk students, in 1993.
In 1992, Harris's big break occurred when she won the grand prize in a local rap contest sponsored by Yo! MTV Raps. For the prize, she met the young rap duo Kris Kross. They introduced her to their producer, Jermaine Dupri, who signed her to his So So Def label. Dupri cultivated Da Brat's image as a "female Snoop Doggy Dogg," and she became one of the first female "reality-based" rappers. Harris told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that her stage name was inspired because she is "a spoiled only child." Da Brat's debut album Funkdafied was released in 1994 and entered the rap albums chart at #1. The album went platinum, making her the first female solo rapper to sell one million units. The eponymous single reached #1 on the rap singles chart and #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Her follow-up hit from the same album, "Give It 2 You," reached #26 on the Hot 100
In 1996, Da Brat released her second full-length album, Anuthatantrum, which included the single "Ghetto Love" featuring T-Boz of TLC. During the rest of the '90s, Da Brat came to be known more for her "featured" appearances on other rappers' and R&B singers' albums rather than for her own solo work. Da Brat was also featured with Kris Kross on the title track of their album Da Bomb (1993) as well as on their third album Young, Rich and Dangerous (1996). She contributed a rhyme to the hip hop remix of Mariah Carey's hit, "Always Be My Baby" (1996). She also made her feature film debut that year in Kazaam (1996) with Shaquille O'Neal.
During the summer of 1997, Da Brat appeared along with Dupri on a remix of Carey's "Honey (So So Def mix)" (1997) and recorded the hit remix of "Ladies' Night (Not Tonight)" (1997) with Lil' Kim, Left-Eye of TLC, Angie Martinez, and Missy Elliott. Also in 1997, she was featured on "Sock It 2 Me," a track on Missy Elliott's debut album, Supa Dupa Fly. In 1999, she appeared, alongside Krayzie Bone, on the remix to Mariah Carey's cover of Brenda K. Starr's "I Still Believe" (1988). She also appeared as a guest artist with Elliott on Carey's remix of "Heartbreaker" (1999), and on the remix of Brandy's "U Don't Know Me (Like U Used To)." That year, she was also featured on a remix of the Destiny's Child single "Jumpin', Jumpin'"
In early 2000, Da Brat released her third full-length album Unrestricted, which produced the moderately successful singles "That's What I'm Looking For" (U.S. #56) and "What Chu Like" (U.S. #26), featuring soul singer, Tyrese. In 2001, Brat continued her trend of being featured on other artist's remixes, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles chart along with rapper Ludacris on the main remix of Mariah Carey's "Loverboy" and being featured artist on Destiny's Child's "Survivor" remix. Da Brat also appeared as Louise in Carey's 2001 movie Glitter. In 2003, Brat released her fourth album, titled Limelite, Luv & Niteclubz, and appeared on the 4th season of VH1's The Surreal Life.
In 2005, she made a comeback of sorts when she was featured on the remix of the song "I Think They Like Me," by Dem Franchize Boyz, which also featured Bow Wow and Jermaine Dupri. The song peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles chart and No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 2006, she was an onstage guest on Mariah Carey's The Adventures of Mimi Tour in Atlanta, New York City, Long Island, Washington, DC, Chicago, and Los Angeles performing her rap verses on the "Heartbreaker" and "Honey" remixes. She was also featured on Kelly Rowland's "Gotsta Go," a bonus track from her 2007 album Ms. Kelly and is also featured on "4real4real", a bonus track from Carey's E=MC². She also co-wrote a song with Carey called "O.O.C." which appears on E=MC² and contributes backing vocals on the track. In 2007, she participated in the fifth season of the VH1 reality series Celebrity Fit Club. Later that same year, she was involved in a night club altercation, which resulted in criminal charges and a 3 year prison sentence (2008-2010). Then, following her release from prison, she launched a web series about life after the experience—entitled “Brat Chronicles: In Transition;” on You Tube . In 2011, she did a remix with Kelly Rowland called "Motivation" featuring Lil Wayne. She released her new single "Is It Chu?" on iTunes and other digital services on July 2, 2013
In 2015, she made her radio debut and joined the nationally syndicated Rickey Smiley Morning Show, as the new co-host. She is also a regular cast on the TV1 reality show –“Rickey Smiley For Real.” In the season’s finale episode (Dec 2), she made a television guest appearance on the highly successful Fox network hit show EMPIRE. This same date, she released her latest single #YAK (You Already Know); which is currently available on iTunes.
Da Brat continues to work on her music career, by writing and producing music, as well as searching for and developing new artists. As she expands her career to include television and film, she is also taking acting lessons to further enhance and maintain her star power in the entertainment industry.