Photo: Richard Bord / Getty Images
  /  03.28.2018

The Notorious B.I.G. once asked “What’s beef?” and while that’s still TBD, one thing that is undeniable is that back in 1984, a 14-year-old Queensbridge native named Roxanne Shante was ready to serve anybody brave enough to step to her. This was around the time when her U.T.F.O. diss track “Roxanne’s Revenge” not only had the streets of New York buzzing, but also proved that hip-hop wasn’t just a boy’s club.

Before pillars of the culture like Queen Latifah and MC Lyte were putting ladies first, ground-breaking artists like Missy Elliott and Lauryn Hill were pushing the envelope, or Nicki Minaj and Cardi B were grinding their way to H.B.I.C. status, there stood Roxanne Shante. However, she admits that she’s unbothered if, in the past, her contributions to the game have been overlooked. “In all reality, that’s fine with me,” she told REVOLT. “Because in order to get you in here someone needs to open up the door and if that needs to be me, I’m fine with that.”

Breaking old habits can be hard to do, even for one of the genre’s foremothers. Thirty years after first exploding on the scene, Shante is still in the business of breaking barriers. “It actually shows that there is a market for us in film and that there’s a market for our stories,” she said, as she discussed her newly-released Netflix biopic Roxanne Roxanne. “And hopefully this will be another one of these things [that] they say I pioneered.”

Produced with support from Pharrell Williams and Forest Whitaker, the film, chronicling her meteoric rise to fame, stars Nia Long, Oscar winner Mahershala Ali and newcomer Chante Adams who told us, “I’ve always been passionate about telling stories about women of color, especially stories we’ve never heard before.” The actress landed her breakthrough role only several weeks after graduating.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Pharrell Williams (@pharrell) on

As expected, working alongside an esteemed ensemble came with some perks. There was the access to the expertise and advice of her co-stars, as well as to a certain new skill she picked up. One of Shante’s earlier hustles was the art form known as boosting—stealing designer fits and reselling them to local B-boys and hustlers—and, of course, she made sure Adams pulled it off. “There was no way that somebody is going to sit back, look at the film and say, ‘Now you know she would’ve gotten caught,’” said Shante. “We just wanted to make sure that was the case and she caught on quickly.”

A story of triumph, Roxanne Roxanne is also a cautionary tale. It focuses on a period when music’s most dominant genre was the new kid in the block, and yet many of those obstacles a teenaged Shante faced are still prevalent today. Artists young and old are still being jerked by managers and labels, while movements like #MeToo only exist as a result of verbal, mental, sexual and physical abuse still running rampant.

For Shante, those seemingly difficult-to-revisit moments from her life featured throughout the movie are there to provide a glimpse of hope for anyone dealing with similar situations. “That one moment when you do decide to fight back, whether you win or lose, is enough to give someone else that strength to want to fight back,” she said.

“Being the victim makes you turn into the villain,” she later added. “When you keep silent about something that happens to you, you leave that door open for it to happen to someone else.”

Practicing what she preaches, Shante, along with her husband, started Mind Over Matter. Located in Newark, New Jersey, the non-profit provides mentorship and guidance for young girls that are at risk of not graduating and are faced with the growing pains of life in the inner city. Participants can also count on Ms. Shante, as many of them refer to her, for rides to school and to prom night glow- ups. “I am for them what I felt I needed at that age, so I make it my business to do that,” she admitted.

“I came up with this whole term for it,” said Shante. “I call it re-enterfication, meaning you go get money and you move back into the hood. This way, some child can see you on a daily basis and see that success is not far or out of reach.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

View More

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

View More

Trending

Walmart has the home essentials for everyone on your holiday shopping list

Below, our gift guide highlights some of our favorite Walmart finds for anyone in need of a home refresh.

  /  11.24.2023

5 things you need to know about the 2023 Billboard Music Awards

“REVOLT Black News” correspondent Kennedy Rue counts down the top five moments from the 2023 Billboard Music Awards, including surprising wins, historic firsts, and dope performances. Sponsored by Amazon.

  /  11.20.2023

The Auditions | 'Shoot Your Shot'

The competition begins at REVOLT WORLD as rising rappers, singers, and musicians line up to audition for their spot on the main stage. Brought to you by McDonald’s.

  /  11.28.2023

Dig In & Drink Up | 'Bet on Black'

In this new episode of ‘Bet on Black,’ food and beverage take center stage as aspiring Black entrepreneurs from It’s Seasoned, Black Farmer Box, and Moors Brewing Co. present their business ideas to judges with mentorship from Melissa Butler. Watch here!

  /  11.15.2023

Walmart's Makers Studio at REVOLT WORLD transformed passion into progress

Take a look inside the Makers Studio presented by Walmart at REVOLT WORLD, a space where Black creators could hone in on their brand and see it come to life.

  /  12.04.2023

Walmart brings in heavy-hitters for Black and Unlimited Tour panel

REVOLT is continuing its impactful partnership with Walmart by teaming up to showcase Black creatives at HBCUs all-across America. The panel consisted of three experienced, accomplished Black HBCU alumni: Actor and media personality Terrence J, entertainment attorney John T. Rose, and actress and “REVOLT Black News” correspondent Kennedy-Rue McCullough.

  /  11.30.2023

Meet The Semifinalists | 'Shoot Your Shot'

Get to know our semifinalists a little better. Learn what motivated them to shoot their shot, as well as how they describe their personality, and sound.

  /  12.05.2023

Walmart's Opportunity Center at REVOLT WORLD empowered HBCU students

Fly Guy DC taps in with REVOLT WORLD attendees to learn what the Opportunity Center, presented by Walmart, means to them and their futures.

  /  12.04.2023

The $200,000 goes to… | 'Bet on Black'

In the season finale of “Bet on Black,” special guest judge Ray J joins as the finalists take the main stage to show they have what it takes to win the $200,000 grand prize; Melissa Butler and Eunique Jones Gibson mentor. Presented by Target.

  /  12.04.2023

So Phresh, so clean | 'Bet on Black'

There’s only one round left as the last few founders – Terra-Tory, Phreshly, and ConditionHER – pitch to the “Bet on Black” judges for their chance in the finals and winning the grand prize; Eunique Jones Gibson mentors. Watch here!

  /  12.04.2023

Dr. Jaqueline Echols' mission to cure environmental racism

The health of a community can often be traced to the health of the environment that surrounds it. In Atlanta, a woman named Dr. Jaqueline Echols has dedicated her life to helping ensure that people in economically underserved communities have clean rivers – for better health and for the joy of outdoor recreational space.

  /  12.01.2023

Fly Guy DC highlighted HBCU students' passion and pride at REVOLT WORLD

Walmart supports HBCU students and encourages them to be Black & Unlimited. Fly Guy DC talked to a few at REVOLT WORLD about how being an HBCU student has changed their lives.

  /  12.05.2023

Investing in stocks in a recession | 'Maconomics'

Host Ross Mac provides useful advice for preparing your personal finances in the event of a recession. He emphasizes the importance of budgeting properly, building an emergency fund, and maintaining discipline when investing.

  /  11.21.2023

16 best hip hop video games of all time

From Def Jam: Vendetta, Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style, DJ Hero and more, we list our favorite hip hop videos games of all time. Did yours make the cut? 

  /  11.06.2023

17 rappers named after food to make you crave their music

Here’s a list of rappers who are named after food. Enjoy — or shall we say, “Bon appetit”? 

  /  11.21.2023

DDG has his sights set on becoming a fashion hero & talks Halle Bailey being his "best friend"

In this exclusive interview, DDG opens up about his fashion inspiration, what drew him to girlfriend Halle Bailey, dealing with negative opinions about his relationship, and more. Read up!

  /  11.28.2023

15 inspirational Eminem lyrics for his fans to lose themselves in

Whether it be the triumphant “Not Afraid” or resilient “Soldier,” Eminem’s music has the power to inspire you to reach your goals. 

  /  11.18.2023

17 of Megan Thee Stallion's most motivational lyrics

The artist has remained remarkably consistent in her song lyrics about making money, telling off haters and feeling liberated since her debut.

  /  11.07.2023

11 T-Pain lyrics to spit the perfect game

T-Pain has a way with the ladies. Take inspiration from 11 of his most flirtatious lyrics to level up your game.

  /  11.29.2023

Former kid rappers we loved: Where are they now?

From taking over the playground to dominating the rap game, many young artists have made music history. Check them out and where their journeys have taken them here! 

  /  11.13.2023
View More
Revolt - New Episodes