Before the world knew about Lil Kim, Missy Elliot, Nicki Minaj, or Cardi B, they knew Roxanne Shanté. In the 80’s, Shanté whose real name is Lolita Shanté began rapping at the tender age of 14. The female MC was a part of a 10-member MC crew in Queensbridge, NY, called the Juice Crew, headed by Marley Marl and radio DJ Mr. Magic.
Shanté’s big break came when she spit her rebuttal, or what we call diss tracks today, on the six-minute track, Roxanne’s Revenge. Though diss tracks or “answer records” were not new, Roxanne’s Revenge became a hit and sold around 250,000 copies in NYC alone. The track was a response to UTFO’s B side rap single, Roxanne Roxanne.
The two-hour film airing on Netflix, was written and directed by Michael Larnell. Larnell focuses on the hip hop star’s tempestuous life and music career. Fans can see how Shanté was mistreated by predatory men in the industry as money is a constant issue. Shanté’s character is play by Chanté Adams. Nia Long plays her depressive, alcoholic mother and Moonlight actor, Mahershala Ali portrays her abusive boyfriend who gets the MC rapper pregnant at 16.
The depiction of Shanté’s life is for a wide audience. It’s for the young mothers. It’s for the abused women. It’s for the people who had a parent struggling with addiction. It’s a story about hip hop and the many struggles women in the industry endured and still endure from their male counterparts.
The real Roxanne appeared on the red carpet for the premiere of the show. When asked what advice she would give her younger self, she replied, “Get a lawyer. Get a lawyer that nobody knows. Go and get a lawyer. That’s what you do! Please!”
Roxanne Roxanne will air on Netflix, March 23. Check out the trailer and leave a comment below.