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NYDN: Rapper behind 'Roxanne's Revenge' gets Warner Music to pay for Ph.D


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Rapper behind 'Roxanne's Revenge' gets Warner Music to pay for Ph.D

BY Walter Dawkins

August 24th 2009

Roxanne's revenge was sweet indeed.

Twenty-five years after the first queen of hip-hop was stiffed on her royalty checks, Dr. Roxanne Shante boasts an Ivy League Ph.D. - financed by a forgotten clause in her first record deal.

"This is a story that needs to be told," Shante said. "I'm an example that you can be a teenage mom, come from the projects, and be raised by a single parent, and you can still come out of it a doctor."

Her prognosis wasn't as bright in the years after the '80s icon scored a smash hit at age 14: "Roxanne's Revenge," a razor-tongued response to rap group UTFO's mega-hit "Roxanne, Roxanne."

The 1984 single sold 250,000 copies in New York City alone, making Shante (born Lolita Gooden) hip hop's first female celebrity.

She blazed a trail followed by Lil' Kim, Salt-N-Pepa and Queen Latifah - although Shante didn't share their success.

After two albums, Shante said, she was disillusioned by the sleazy music industry and swindled by her record company. The teen mother, living in the Queensbridge Houses, recalled how her life was shattered.

"Everybody was cheating with the contracts, stealing and telling lies," she said. "And to find out that I was just a commodity was heartbreaking."

But Shante, then 19, remembered a clause in her Warner Music recording contract: The company would fund her education for life.

She eventually cashed in, earning a Ph.D. in psychology from Cornell to the tune of $217,000 - all covered by the label. But getting Warner Music to cough up the dough was a battle.

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Good on her. I know it would have been nice to get a few mill, but at least she got something out of the deal.

And though Warner thought it was unlikely she'd attend college or grad school, why the ___ do you put a clause like that in there and then try to not pay?

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[lee corso] Not so fast my friend...[/lee corso]

here are some user comments from the article...take it any way you want:

Uh, it would be a nice story.. if it were true. I work for Cornell and there is no record of her attending, much less getting a PhD - neither under Lolita Gooden nor under Roxanne Shante. NYDN, don't you even bother to pick up the phone and fact-check this stuff? call the registrar, for god's sake!

Some people who claim to be in the know say she is a fraud. Who knows?

Upstater607 has it right. Any talk of Roxanne Shante having a Cornell Ph.D is untrue. It appears to have started as a rumor on a music-industry blog. Don't believe the hype!
Upstater607, you and Dogbreath may want to check out this 2008 article by Daniel from Cornell's campus newspaper The Chronicle. Here's an excerpt: "Using her talent for improvising rhymes, Shanté was only 14 when her 1984 hit single "Roxanne's Revenge" sparked a series of answer records. "I didn't come into the industry to be a great female rapper, I came into the industry because I was a great rapper," she said. Shanté retired from hip-hop in 1995 and went on to earn a Ph.D. in psychology at Cornell." Now either Aloi didn't check either, or both of you are making libelous comments here. Link is here: http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Nov08/hiphopCover.da.html

There seems to be A LOT of confusion as to whether she is telling the truth or not....

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  • 2 weeks later...


It was the feel-good story of the summer. According to the New York Daily News, Roxanne Shanté, a 1980s female hip-hop pioneer famous for the 1984 underground hit "

," had finally gotten her own revenge on Warner Music, the record label she accused of "cheating with the contracts, stealing and telling lies," to avoid paying her what she was owed. How? After valiantly fighting, reported Daily News freelancer Walter Dawkins, Shanté had convinced Warner to honor a contractual agreement to "fund her education for life." Warner ended up paying more than $200,000, Dawkins reported, to finance Shanté's education, which Shanté said included an undergraduate degree from Marymount Manhattan College and a Ph.D. in psychology from Cornell. And now, said the Daily News, "Dr. Roxanne Shanté" has "launched an unconventional therapy practice focusing on urban African-Americans," in which she "incorporates hip-hop music into her sessions, encouraging her clients to unleash their inner MC and shout out exactly what's on their mind."

The story was endlessly blogged and tweeted, heralded as an example of a heroic triumph by a girl from the projects over her evil record label. Credulous music-industry critics lapped it up; Techdirt, after stating flatly that Warner had "tr[ied] to cheat [shanté] out of her contract," reflected the online sentiment: "It's nice to see how Warner Music actually did some good in the world, even if it had to be dragged there kicking and screaming."

One problem: Virtually everything about the Daily News' heartwarming "projects-to-Ph.D." story appears to be false.

An investigation by Slate has revealed:

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The stupidity of this is amazing to me. Why do people with fake credentials and backstories agree to do interviews like this? Do they think nobody will ever check to see if what they're saying checks out?

Common sense should tell them they're gaming the system so just :stfu: and lay low.

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