1996 was the year I became aware of Da Brat. Though the Chicago-born emcee had been rapping since 1991 and released her debut Funkdafied in 1994, she entered my world via her cameo in the Shaquille O'Neal genie comedy film Kazaam. In the next few years, the quick-spitting artist was increasingly on my radar as a featured rapper in R&B songs by Brandy and Mariah Carey — the two have been best friends for decades — and she even rapped with Beyoncé on Destiny's Child's "Jumpin', Jumpin.'" Things have been up and down for Da Brat since those halcyon days. In the past 20 years, she's released one album, done features for the likes of Kelly Rowland, Jermaine Dupri, and Bow Wow, spent three years in prison (for reckless conduct), launched a short-lived web series, and stirred up beef with Nicki Minaj via Twitter. These days, she's a cohost on the nationally-syndicated radio program The Rickey Smiley Morning Show. Brat may have never reached the same heights of fame as Missy Elliott, but one thing's for sure: She made a whole lot of songs better by contributing raps.