Shawntae Harris (born April 14, 1974), better known by her stage name Da Brat, is an American rapper and actress from Joliet, Illinois. Beginning her career in 1991, Harris debut album Funkdafied (1994) sold one million copies, making her the first female solo rap act to receive a platinum certification, and the second overall female rap act (solo or group) after Salt N Pepa. She has received two Grammy Award nominations.
Harris was born on April 14, 1974 in Joliet, Illinois and raised on Chicago's West Side. Her parents never married, and Harris was subsequently raised in two different households. Harris lived part of the time with her mother and grandmother and attended a strict Apostolic church four times a week, where she sang in the choir. Harris attended Kenwood Academy during her sophomore and junior year, 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 1992.
1992–95: Early success
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 copies. The eponymous single reached #1 on the rap singles chart and #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Her follow-up single from the same album, "Give It 2 You," reached #26 on the Hot 100.
1996–99: Collaborations and film projects
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 1990s, 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" (1998). 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'" (1999).
2000–03: Return to solo work
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. The album was not well received compared to Brat's earlier work. However, the new album and new millennium did inspire an image makeover for Da Brat. Abandoning her "gangsta" persona, she decided to follow the trend in popular music and attempted to add to her sex appeal. 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.
2005–present: Current activities
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. In 2011, she did a remix with Kelly Rowland called "Motivation" featuring Lil Wayne. Following her release from prison, she launched a web series about life after the experience titled "Brat Chronicles: In Transition" on YouTube. She released her new single "Is It Chu?" on iTunes and other digital services on July 2, 2013. She now works for the Rickey Smiley Morning show as a co-host (July 2015 – present).
Legal troubles, prison sentence, and controversies
In 2001, Da Brat pleaded guilty to misdemeanor reckless conduct after she had beaten a woman with a gun during a dispute over VIP seating in an Atlanta nightclub in 2000. The victim in that incident received six stitches for a head wound. Harris ended up serving a year's probation, performed 80 hours of community service, and paid a $1,000 fine. On October 31, 2007, Harris was involved in the altercation that ended in assault at a Halloween party at Studio 72 nightclub in Atlanta. Da Brat initially argued with a hostess, and when the hostess walked away to talk to her manager, Da Brat attacked her from behind, striking her in the face with a rum bottle. The waitress was rushed to an area hospital, and police arrested Da Brat and sent her to jail. In court, Da Brat entered a guilty plea to aggravated assault charges. She was sentenced to three years in prison, seven years of probation, and 200 hours of community service. In May 2010, she was temporarily released from prison as part of a work-release program, after serving 21 months. On February 28, 2011, Jermaine Dupri announced that Da Brat was officially released from prison, completing her sentence. Her civil trial stemming from the 2007 altercation commenced on February 24, 2014. On February 28, 2014, a civil trial jury awarded ex-NFL cheerleader Shayla Stevens $6.4 million to cover her injuries and past/future loss of earnings. On October 4, 2012, Nicki Minaj attacked Da Brat via her Twitter account after false reports of Brat defending Mariah Carey and threatening to beat Minaj with a bottle were released. Minaj denounced Brat as a "sir" and tweeted: "The struggle for u to even AFFORD that bottle is why the barbz r now cackling DOWNNNt." Da Brat responded to Minaj by tweeting: "Nicki nor Mariah has ever disrespected me so I would not disrespect either of them."
Limelite, Luv & Niteclubz (2003)
Rainbow World Tour (with Mariah Carey and Missy Elliott) (2000)