Roxanne Shanté was the first solo female rapper who solidified her place in music history by recording a response track to U.T.F.O’s “Roxanne, Roxanne” titled “Roxanne’s Revenge” at the age of 14; this single hit No. 22 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. After the success of “Roxanne’s Revenge,” Shanté toured and continued to release music. But she eventually ended up focusing on DJing and hosting events because “…they [her managers] had an expiration date on hip-hop when I participated in it. They was like ‘listen this is not going to be around for the next ten years so try to get everything you can out of it now,’ ” as Shanté described to NPR. After the success of telling her tumultuous story through its Sundance Film Festival premiere, the producers behind Dope and Fruitvale Station landed Roxanne Roxanne on Netflix. The film also has a limited release in theaters.
Lolita Shanté Gooden became a famous battle rapper when a man from her Queensbridge neighborhood, producer Marley Marl, asked her to come to his apartment and record a track while she was on her way to do laundry. At the time, she had been battling for cash, along with boosting designer clothes, to help support her mom and sisters. She went on to tour as a member of the Juice Crew, which also included Biz Markie and Big Daddy Kane, where she participated in Roxanne Wars against other female MCs. This led to recording two studio albums with Warner Music. But the dark side of the experience included living in an impoverished housing project, a teenage pregnancy and a physically abusive adult boyfriend. And the rumored recording contract clause that allowed Shanté to have a lifetime of education expenses paid for was sadly an urban legend.
In the film, she is played by a newcomer with the same name, Chanté Adams. When Shanté begins battling at the age of 10, she is able to be escorted to events by her mom, played by Nia Long, and hype woman because she is travelling so close to home. But as her fame stretches outside of her borough, she is increasingly exposed to the free-flowing drugs, sex and copious consumption that the industry promotes and provides. And without a momager that is able to be by her side, she is forced to fight her battles for a safe place to lay her head, pay equity and of warding off pedophiles, alone. Shanté’s strength is constantly juxtaposed against the predatory habits of the men that claim to be her friends and managers. As for her revenge, it seems to be ongoing through the success of her inspiring biopic. In addition to performing again, she now runs the nonprofit organization Mind Over Matter, which helps at-risk teens navigate high school graduation.