#ROXANNESHANTEFACTS#18 TOP FEMALE RAPPER
Roxanne Shanté (born Lolita Shanté Gooden; November 9, 1969) is an American Hip hoppioduneer. Born and raised in theQueensbridge Projects of Queens, New York City, Shanté first gained attention through the Roxanne Wars and her association with theJuice Crew.
Early life and Career
Shanté’s career began at the age of 14 when she entered the influential world of record producer Marley Marl, radio DJ Mr. Magic, and Tyrone Williams, who were talking about how UTFO had canceled its appearance at a show that it was promoting. Shanté offered to record an answer to UTFO’s recent hit “Roxanne, Roxanne,” which was about a woman who rejects the members of the group. The men agreed and the result was “Roxanne’s Revenge,” a confrontational and profane song in which Shanté assumed the role of Roxanne,dissing UTFO over a Marley Marl-produced instrumental (The official UTFO response to its own song was “The Real Roxanne,” with artists Elease Jacks and later Adelaida Martinez assuming the role of Roxanne and eventually recording under the same stage name as the song title).
Shanté’s version and the Real Roxanne’s version sparked the Roxanne Wars and made Shanté a hip-hop star in the process.
The single would go on to sell over 250,000 copies in the New York area alone. One of the founding members of theJuice Crew, most of her tracks would be produced by Marley Marl, with the exception of several songs on Shanté’s last album, 1992’s The Bitch Is Back.
As an MC, Shanté was renowned for an extraordinary ability tofreestyle (improvise) entire songs. “Roxanne’s Revenge” was an example, reportedly written as it was recorded—in one take. However, the original version of the song was rerecorded after UTFO sued over the usage of its original backing track; the new version featured slightly different music with less profanity.
People are most familiar with this version, which appears on the original 12-inch single released in 1984, with the original on the A-side. In 1997 she teamed up with Frankie Cutlass on his third single title “The Cypher Part 3” and some ofMarley Marl Juice Crew veterans. In 1988, Shanté and Rick Jameshad a hit with “Loosey’s Rap.”
By the age of 25, Shanté was largely retired from the recording industry. She continued to make occasional guest appearances and live performances, as well as mentor young female hip-hop artists. She did the latter by making a cameo appearance on VH1’s hip hop reality show Ms. Rap Supreme and gave rap-battle strategies to the finalists of that show.
She also took part in a series of Sprite commercials during the late 1990s. She returned to performing, and in 2008, her song “Roxanne’s Revenge” was ranked number 42 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs; she re-recorded the song the following year.
It was reported by Blender in 2008 and more extensively in a New York Daily News account in 2009, that Shanté earned her bachelor’s degree from Marymount Manhattan Collegeand her Master’s and Ph.D in psychology from Cornell University, and that a quirk in her recording contract obligatedWarner Music to fund her college education.
This was not a new claim by Shanté; she spoke of it in length on the Beef II documentary, which was released in 2004.
However, an investigation by lawyer and journalist Ben Sheffner for Slate magazine found no evidence of Shanté’s claims. She was never signed to a Warner Music label, but was under contract to the independent label Cold Chillin’ Records, which was in turn distributed by Reprise/Warner Bros. Records from 1987 to 1992.
Academic records indicate that she attended only three months at Marymount Manhattan College. Shanté never earned any degree and she is unlicensed by New York State officials to practice psychology or similar disciplines.
Shanté told Sheffner that she held a diploma and attended Cornell under a pseudonym because of problems with domestic violence, but she was unable to substantiate these claims.
The Daily News subsequently ran a five-paragraph correction stating Cornell “has now informed us that it has no record of Shanté ever attending the school,” that “Warner Music Group now claims it never had a contract with Shanté—only a distribution agreement with her label,” and that “after refusing to return numerous calls and e-mails during the preparation of this article, Marymount now states that Shanté attended the college for less than one semester.”
“Do I apologize? Yes, I do. But I am not asking for your forgiveness,” Shanté said. “I am sorry about a lot of things that I should’ve done differently. There were quite a few things that have been exposed with that article; the fact that I never received any royalties, the fact that I did go on to attend college (even if no Ph.D. was acquired), and the fact that at 14 years old and coming straight from the group home, I went on to create a career that even after 20 years of not making a hit record, was still pulling headlines. To be called Dr. Roxanne Shante was, and is, a privilege. But with that privilege comes pressure. I also had to live and talk like someone with a doctorate — not an easy task at all.
I had to make sure that people felt healed and inspired after speaking with me. So, yes, I apologize to all those who applied themselves and put in all the hard work that is required to acquire a Ph.D. I admire you all. But don’t discredit all the hard work and sacrifices so many others have also done to also reach their goals.”
The Roxanne Wars is a well-known series of hip hop rivalries during the mid-1980s, yielding perhaps the most answer records in history. It arose from a dispute over a failed appearance at a radio promotional show. There were two Roxannes in question, Roxanne Shanté and The Real Roxanne.
In 1984, the hip-hop trio U.T.F.O., produced by the R&B group Full Force, released a single titled “Hanging Out,” which did not do well. However, it was the single’s B side, “Roxanne, Roxanne”, a song about a woman who would not respond to their advances, that gained much attention and airplay.
Soon afterwards, 14-year-old Lolita Shanté Gooden was walking outside a New York City housing project called Queensbridge, when she heard Tyrone Williams, disc jockey Mr. Magic, and record producer Marley Marl talking about how U.T.F.O. had canceled their appearance at a show they were promoting.
Gooden offered to make a hip-hop record that would get back at U.T.F.O., with her taking on the monikerRoxanne Shanté, after her middle name. The three took her up on the idea, with Marley producing”Roxanne’s Revenge.” The single was released in late 1984, taking the original beats from an instrumental version of “Roxanne, Roxanne.” It was very confrontational and laced with profanities, but was an instant hit that sold over 250,000 copies in the New York area alone. Legal action followed, and it was re-released in early 1985 with new beats and the obscenities removed.
Following this, U.T.F.O. and Full Force decided to release their own answer record. While not directly aimed at Roxanne Shanté, this record featured Elease Jack, who took on the moniker of the Real Roxanne (and was soon replaced by Adelaida Martinez).
This also was a hit, but it may have also produced an undesired result: while there had been answer records before (such as the semi-disco song “Somebody Else’s Guy” and “Games People Play”/”Games Females Play”), they usually ended with the second recording. But in this saga, with a third record in airplay, a whole new trend began. The airwaves were so occupied with the three “Roxanne” records that other MCs decided to get into the act.
Over the next year, anywhere from 30 to over 100 answer records (according to different claims) were produced, portraying Roxanne’s family, or making various claims about her. The ones that were more well known were the following:
“Sparky’s Turn (Roxanne, You’re Through)” by Sparky D, a feisty female who criticizes Roxanne (Shanté, in particular) for being disrespectful toward UTFO, and for being too young, both for them to pursue, and to be an MC. Even though the record defended UTFO, they were reportedly not appreciative of this additional unauthorized response.
It was after this that the saga really took off.”Roxanne’s Doctor-The Real Man” by Dr. Freshh, who also insulted Roxanne for having no class.”Do the Roxanne” by Dr. Rocx & Co., which created a dance based on Roxanne. (Referred to Shanté’s “cracky wacky voice”, as Sparky D had described it in her record).
A rare instance of a record in the series not aimed at dissingsomeone.”The Parents of Roxanne” by Gigolo Tony & Lacey Lace, which answered both UTFO and Sparky D. It drew references from both “Roxanne’s Revenge” and “The Real Roxanne” as if both represented the true Roxanne.”I’m Lil Roxanne” by Tanganyika, was a record by the then young artist named Tanganyika stating that she was the younger version of the original Roxanne.”Yo, My Little Sister (Roxanne’s Brothers)” by Crush Groove (no relation to Krush Groove), which answered UTFO, Sparky D, and Dr. Freshh.”Rappin’ Roxy: Roxanne’s Sister”by D.W. and the Party Crew featuring Roxy, which reuses several lines from The Real Roxanne and attacks both UTFO and Sparky D.”Ice Roxanne” by Little Ice Another record answering Roxanne Shanté by a young female, who citing a line in “Roxanne’s Revenge” tells Roxanne to “make up her mind” if she wanted a man or not.”Roxanne’s a Man (The Untold Story—Final Chapter)” by Ralph Rolle, which claimed that Roxanne was actually a man who had been sodomized in prison, and then having “lost his manhood”, turned himself into a woman after his release; and insulted UTFO for not realizing this.”The Final Word – No More Roxanne (Please)” by The East Coast Crew, the final record that told the world to end it all.
East Coast Crew contained regulars from the 80’s TV show on the USA Network “Dance Party USA”.
In due time, the “Roxanne” trend had run its course, and a sort of moratorium was called on new Roxanne acts (some later records even called for this).
The response records finally died down; however, the battle continued amongst its core group of players:
UTFO added another response of their own; “Roxanne, Roxanne, Pt. 2: Calling Her a Crab”, also aimed loosely at Shanté, in which they took back all the compliments they had given to Roxanne in the first record, give out insults instead, and claimed to have never really liked her in the first place.
Roxanne Shanté issued her follow-up record “Queen of Rox”, which told the story of “how she got so fresh,” and faced “a little bit of hassle from UTFO about saying that I’m Roxanne,” and then takes a jab at the Real Roxanne (“Yeah, I seen that girl—she got a face like a man”).In “Bite This”, Shanté dissed other MCs, including “the Real Roxanne, Sparky D, and all the other Roxannes imitating me.”
Then, there was the one-on-one battle between Shanté and Sparky D: “Round 1 – Roxanne Shanté Vs. Sparky Dee.” The album cover had a picture of both women challenging each other wearing boxing gloves.
The biggest successor to the Roxanne war was The Bridge Wars, in which Roxanne Shanté, as a member of Marley Marl’s Juice Crew, was loosely involved. The Bridge Wars attacked the entire Queensbridge area.
The tables were then turned, because this time it was a hit record produced by Mr. Magic and Marley Marl that garnered a response (MC Shan’s”The Bridge”), sparking off a whole new battle saga.
It was in the midst of this battle, in the song “Go On, Girl”, that Roxanne Shanté dropped the name Roxanne, and was thereafter known only as Shanté. (The opening line says “it’s ’87, y’all, so no more Roxannes . . . “). Likewise, The Real Roxanne dropped “Real” from her name, and went by the name Roxanne, and was even addressed as such by Shanté in the track “Big Mama”, in a reference to their past battles. This lasted until her 1992 track, “Roxanne S*** Is Over”, where she relinquishes the name Roxanne for good, and dubs herself Jo-Anne With The Plan.
The album this was released on, Go Down But Don’t Bite It, however, was her final record. Shanté likewise retired from the business a few years afterward.
Other Response Records
Anthony – Roxanne Is A Man Blowfly – Blowfly meets Roxanne DJ Spin Kut – Roxanne Girls Mega Mix 2 —(Clips from the various records mixed together)Doctor JR Kool – Rap Your Own Roxanne —(Electronic instrumental dance record)DW & The Party Crew (feat. Roxy) – Roxy (Party Crew Records 1985)G-Mann – Roxanne (Is My Girl) Korner Boyz – The Saga Of Roxanne Maggotron – Planet Detroit vs. The Roxanne Plague —(Mostly an electronic dance track)Mix-Trix 4 – Roxanne Can You Feel It? —(A DJ mix record featuring the “Roxanne Roxanne” beat with many other raps from the time)Potato Chips – Roxanne’s Real Fat Ricardo & Chocolate Boogie – Do It Ricardo (Roxanne’s Man) Rocksann – She Died Starrlite – Watch Out Roxanne The Invasions – Roxanne’s Dis The Invasions – Roxanne’s Man The Overnite Bandits – Roxanne’s Baby Zelee featuring Osé – No More Roxanne (Roxanne No More)