Da Brat was born Shawntae Harris on April 14, 1974 in Chicago, Illinois. She got her stage name from being the “spoiled only child” even though she is the younger half-sister of actress LisaRaye McCoy. Da Brat fell in love with music while playing the drums and singing in the church choir. After graduating from the Academy of Scholastic Achievement in 1992 she got her big break.
Da Brat won the grand prize in a local rap contest sponsored by Yo! MTV Raps in 1992. She got to meet Kris Kross, the young rap duo who wore their clothes backwards. They recognized Da Brat’s raw talent and introduced her to their producer, Jermaine Dupri, who would later sign her to his So So Def label.
Da Brat’s debut album titled Funkdafied was released in 1994 and sold over a million copies, an accomplishment that made her the first female rapper to go platinum. The album entered the rap albums chart at #1 yet peaked at #11 on the Billboard 200. It yielded several chart breaking singles like “Funkdafied” featuring Jermaine Dupri, “Give It 2 You”, and “Fa All Y’all” featuring Kandi of Xscape.
Da Brat’s second album titled Anuthatantrum was released in 1996 and went gold. The album failed to have the success on the charts her first album did. However, the single “Ghetto Love” featuring Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins of TLC reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100. The only other single released was “Sittin on Top of the World” which failed to chart.
Da Brat spent the rest of the 90s making a name for herself as the queen of features. You could hear her on Mariah Carey’s hit “Always Be My Baby” as well as the So So Def remix of “Honey”, “I Still Believe”, and “Heartbreaker”. Her other features include “Ladies’ Night” with Lil Kim, Angie Martinez, Left-Eye, and Missy Elliot; Kris Kross’ single “Da Bomb”, Missy Elliot’s “Sock It 2 Me”, Brandy’s remix for “U Don’t Know Me”, and Destiny’s Child’s “Jumpin Jumpin”. She also made her feature film debut in Kazaam alongside NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal.
Da Brat’s third album titled Unrestricted, was released in 2000. The album had a luke warm reception causing it not to break onto the charts. The album did however produce two singles which managed to chart. “That’s What I'm Looking For” which reached #56 on the US charts and “What Chu Like” featuring singer/actor Tyrese, which reached #26 on the US charts.
In 2001, Da Brat continued her trend of being a featured artist, appearing on Mariah Carey’s “Lover Boy” and Destiny’s Child’s remix for “Survivor”. She also appeared in Mariah Carey’s movie Glitter, as well as the fourth season of VH1’s hit reality show, The Surreal Life.
Da Brat's fourth album titled Limelite, Luv, & Niteclubz was released in 2003. No longer on So So Def, the album was released by Arista and failed to have any of her previous success. In 2005 Da Brat was featured on the remix of Dem Franchize Boyz #1 single, “I Think They Like Me,” which also featured Bow Wow and Jermaine Dupri. In 2006 she joined good friend Mariah Carey on her The Adventures Of Mimi tour. She performed her verses on the “Honey” and “Heartbreaker “ remixes for audiences in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, DC.
Still riding high off her success as a featured artist, Da Brat was featured on bonus tracks for both Kelly Rowland and Mariah Carey. She also joined the 2007 cast of VH1’s hit reality series Celebrity Fit Club. 2007 was shaping up to be another in a long line of good years for Da Brat...that is until October 31, 2007. At a Halloween Party at Studio 72, a nightclub just outside of Atlanta, Da Brat found herself in the middle of a serious physical altercation. According to reports, she got into a heated argument with a waitress at the club and was accused of striking the woman in the face with a bottle, causing numerous cuts to her face. The waitress was rushed to the hospital for treatment. Da Brat later plead guilty to felony aggravated assault and was sentenced to three years behind bars, seven years of probation, and 200 hours of community service.
Da Brat was a model inmate, which allowed her the privilege of becoming part of a work release program in May 2010. After serving 21 months without incident, Da Brat worked 9am to 5pm as a window maker. It was a job she grew to love and a skill she promises to continue to use long after her release from prison.
On February 28, 2011 Da Brat’s long time friend, mentor, and producer Jermaine Dupri, announced her official release from prison. Eager to remind her fans she doesn’t quit as well as reintroduce herself, Da Brat released a mixtape titled Life After Death. The 11 track mixtape is available for free and includes remixes to Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now”, Kelly Rowland’s “Motivation” and Miguel’s “Sure Thing,” as well as Jermaine Dupri produced originals “Get It Get It” featuring Jadakiss and “Dumb Stupid Crazy” featuring Twista. Also since her release, Da Brat did a sexy photoshoot for VIBE shedding her thuggish tomboy look. Da Brat told VIBE she loves getting all made up and being pampered. She admitted she loves Victoria's Secret and that she was a PYT (Pretty Young Thug).
Let’s hope it’s more pretty young and less thug these days. The rap game missed Da Brat, or maybe it was just me that missed her party anthems and rapid machine gun flow. Either way, what the world needs now from Da Brat is more music, killa features, and her to take her spot amongst the rap elite.
~misfit movement let’s make it count!!!