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Roxanne Shanté
Roxanne Shanté.jpg
Shanté in the 1980s

Birth name

Lolita Shanté Gooden


9 November 1969 (age 49)
Queens, New York City, NY


Hip hop



Years active

1984-1996, 2008-present


Pop Art, Cold Chillin'/Reprise/Warner Bros., Livin' Large/Tommy Boy/Warner Bros.

Associated acts

Juice Crew, Steady B, UTFO

Roxanne Shante (born Lolita Shanté Gooden; November 9, 1969) is an American hip hop musician and rapper. Born and raised in the Queensbridge Projects of Queens, New York City, Shante first gained attention through the Roxanne Wars and was part of the Juice Crew. The 2018 film Roxanne Roxanne is a dramatization of Shante's life.

Early life and career

Shante was born Lolita Shanté Gooden in Queens, New York in 1969. She lived with her mother and sisters in Queens, New York. She started rapping at the age of nine and changed her name from Lolita to Roxanne at fourteen. In 1984, the young rapper ran into Tyrone Williams, DJ Mr. Magic, and record producer Marley Marl outside the Queensbridge housing project. The three of them were discussing U.T.F.O. since the rap trio had failed to make an appearance at a concert. U.T.F.O. had recently released a single called "Hanging Out," which did not gain much critical acclaim; however, the B-side "Roxanne, Roxanne", about a woman who would not respond to their advances, became a hit. Shante, who was a member of the Juice Crew, was contracted to write a track in rebuttal to U.T.F.O.'s rap, posing as the Roxanne in the U.T.F.O. song. Marley Marl produced the song "Roxanne's Revenge" using the original beats from an instrumental version of "Roxanne, Roxanne". (At that time her Queens-based crew was in a battle with KRS-One's Bronx-based crew, because both of the crews claimed that their district was the true home of hip hop.) The track became an instant hit and made Shante, only 14 years old at the time, one of the first female MCs to become very popular. Following this, the "Roxanne Wars" started, and Shante continued to rap and started touring.

In 1985, Shante released a record together with Sparky D, who had dissed her before in her track "Sparky's Turn, Roxanne You're Through" for disrespecting U.T.F.O. and being too young to be in rap battles. The record called "Round One, Roxanne Shanté vs Sparky Dee" was released by Spin Records and included six tracks: the two original battle tracks ("Roxanne's Revenge" and "Sparky's Turn") as well as "Roxanne's Profile" by Shante, "Sparky's Profile" by Sparky D and a battle track, in which the two rappers freestyle and dis each other, in a censored and an uncensored version. Other hits included "Have a Nice Day” and “Go on Girl". The ongoing battle with KRS-One hit its height when KRS-One claimed in his 1986 track "The Bridge Is Over" that Shante was nothing more than a sexual appendage to male rappers. Shante released Bad Sister in 1989, The Bitch Is Back in 1992, and a greatest hits anthology in 1995.


By the age of 25, Shante was largely retired from the recording industry. She continued to make occasional guest appearances and live performances, as well as mentor young female hip-hop artists. She did the latter by making a cameo appearance on VH1's hip hop reality show Ms. Rap Supreme and gave rap-battle strategies to the finalists of that show. She also took part in a series of Sprite commercials during the late 1990s. She returned to performing, and in 2008, her song "Roxanne's Revenge" was ranked number 42 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop; she re-recorded the song the following year. In an interview with EmEz in 2015, she stated that she had just been proposed to and that she had been married before. In the same interview she said that KRS-One was one of her favorite rappers.

Biographical claims

It was reported by Blender in 2008 and more extensively in a New York Daily News account in 2009, that Shante earned a bachelor's degree from Marymount Manhattan College and a master's and Ph.D in psychology from Cornell University, and that a quirk in her recording contract obligated Warner Music to fund her college education. These were not new claims by Shante; she spoke on the subject at length on the Beef II documentary, which was released in 2004. However, an investigation by lawyer and journalist Ben Sheffner for Slate magazine found no evidence of Shante's claims. She was never signed to a Warner Music label, but was under contract to the independent label Cold Chillin' Records, which was in turn distributed by Reprise/Warner Bros. Records from 1987 to 1992. Academic records indicate that she attended only three months at Marymount Manhattan College. Shante never earned any degree and she is unlicensed by New York State officials to practice psychology or similar disciplines. The Daily News subsequently ran a five-paragraph correction. Shante apologized in November 2009.

Roxanne Roxanne film

A dramatized biopic about Shante's life, Roxanne Roxanne, was first shown at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. It received critical acclaim and the lead actress Chanté Adams won best breakout performance for her portrayal of Shante. The film was co-produced by Forest Whitaker and Pharrell Williams, and written and directed by Michael Larnell. It was bought by the film studio Neon for general release later in 2017.


  • 1989: Bad Sister
  • 1992: The Bitch Is Back