Roxanne's Revenge...The Bitch is Back
"Those who try to dis I just knock them out the box"
I've had a lot of female friends, and even more female rivals. The funny thing is, I have a lot more in common with Roxanne Shante than most them. Born Lolita Shante Gooden in 1969, Shante found a glitch in the matrix when UTFO recorded the song "Roxanne, Roxanne". She jumped into Marley Marl's soundbooth, and the rest is herstory.
"A lot of MC's today really know how to please
but I gave birth to most of them MC's
so when it comes around to the month of May
send me your royalty check for Mother's Day
Because yo, you know you can't deal with this
I'm Shanté the microphone grand mistress
a pioneer like Lola Falana
with a name that stands big like Madonna
Speaking of Madonna, some girls on the mic
rap like virgins and get real tight
but I get loose with the rhymes I produce
that's why I'm queen of the Crew with the Juice
cause I'm the super female that's called Shanté
and like Hurricane Annie I'll blow you away
Whenever I'm in a battle, yo, I don't play
so you best go about your way
and have a nice day"
That's how she broke it down on "Have a Nice Day." But it was really "Roxanne's Revenge" that sparked her career. Far from comedy rap, "Roxanne's Revenge" wasn't no joke. Shante broke it down by explaining "Roxanne's Revenge" is saying that guys should stop talking about girls because it's not working anymore. It's played out! Talking about girls is fine as long as you've got something good to say about them. Why do you always gotta say girls are stuck up?" In the book "Bring the Noise", authors Havelock Nelson and Michael A. Gonzales wrote "Roxanne's Revenge"] is - perhaps - best remembered for its brutal grit and casual spunk. It stood out, in stark, funky contrast, against more polished cuts by hitmakers Kurtis Blow, Whodini and the Fat Boys. And Shanté's vicious, profane style caught even the toughest rap customers off guard. She started off "Revenge" by bragging, in breathless, squeaky-voiced tones, about how effortlessly she could rock a jam. Then, over a sample stolen from the instrumental mix of "Roxanne, Roxanne", Shanté got nasty, directing to, among other things, "suck my bush." She was out to define a respectable place for women in hip hop, and her pointed rhyme cut through all the mysogyny and sexism associated with the artform. Not just another b-girl honey, Shanté cold-cocked all the skeezoids and, on rap's battleground she became a force to be reckoned with."
Supposedly selling a quarter of a million copies in New York alone, "Revenge" made Roxanne Hip-Hop's first female superstar. She is said to have performed up to three shows in three different states in one day, jetting around in private planes. But cutting full-length records was still out of the norm at that time. So until she finally released her debut album in 1989, she 'only' released a handful of 12-inches. At least five of them on Pop Art Records, all produced by Marley Marl: "Roxanne's Revenge" (84), "Bite This" (85), "Runaway" (85), "Queen of Rox (Shanté Rox On)" (85), "Def Fresh Crew" with Biz Markie (86), "I'm Fly Shanté" with Steady B (86) and "The Payback" (87).
A couple years back, Shante broke down some of the hardships she experienced as a pre-teen Hip Hop Queen when talking to www.allhiphop.com's Nolan Strong. "There was a clause in my contract that said they had to pay for my education. Regardless of how far it went. And what happened was, they felt like she’s 14. By the time I was 15 I was pregnant with my son. They felt like they could through that in there because they thought I would never use it. I mean they were like “look at her now.” They thought I was going to get on drugs. I didn’t. And as long as they had my school covered, I was good. I didn’t get school loans, so I had to copy pages out of other people’s books. I would stand in front of the machine with a bunch of nickels and make copies. Page for page for page for page. And every time I copied a page, my love for Hip-Hop was going away, more and more and more. My story isn’t a happy one, but it had a happy ending. I was straight out of the group home; they dangled the custody of my son over my head because I was so young, so Hip-Hop became a labor of love. If you don’t do this, this is what’s going to happen."
So while everyone's talkin that Jesus ish today, I just wanted to shout out Roxanne Shante, who took a little girl's voice in a little woman's body and made big noise.