Over the weekend, Netflix released the original biopic, Roxanne Roxanne, a film highlighting one of the most-overlooked moments in hip hop history.
If you’re a true fan of rap music, the story of Roxanne Shantè shouldn’t be lost on you. At the mere age of 14 Roxanne Shantè ascended to stardom in the early 1980s and became a pioneering artist when the music genre was just taking toddler steps towards mainstream notoriety. Her career may have ended while she was in her mid-20s, but her legacy has certainly lived on. Born Lolita Shantè Gooden, Shantè paved the way for the Foxy’s, the Remy’s, and the Cardi’s in the game. As depicted in the film, produced by Forest Whitaker and Pharrell Williams, the pony-tail wearing young girl from the Queensbridge Projects in Queens, NY started out as a local battle-rap champ while supporting her three sisters and mother.
One of the most iconic scenes in the film is when a pressed-for-time Shantè, played by breakout actress Chantè Adams, was racing to do her laundry and had a life-changing encounter with legendary producer Marly Marl. Basically, Marly asked Shantè to come up to his apartment to spit a freestyle over U.T.F.O’s “Roxanne, Roxanne” track. The result was a calm one take classic, “Roxanne’s Revenge,” that became a radio hit that would catapult the dreams of this teenage girl and set a bar for those after her.
Here’s what that moment looked like in real life.
Braces and all, young Shantè started off by spitting,
Well my name is Roxanne, a-don’t you know/ I just a-cold rock a party, and I do this show/ I said I met these three guys, and you know that’s true/ Let me tell you and explain them all to you
The type of story-telling by Roxanne Shantè set the blueprint. Like many female artists today, Shantè dealt with the struggles of being in a male-dominated industry and eventually bowed, but her propane flow can never be forgotten.
If you have not been able to, definitely watch Roxanne Roxanne on Netflix, written and directed by Michael Larnell. Check out the trailer here!