Roxanne Shanté is getting the recognition she deserves as one of hip-hop’s pioneering female MCs with a new film set to hit Netflix, Roxanne Roxanne.
The film, starring breakout actress Chanté Adams, follows the MC’s rise as one of the best battle rappers in Queens and the personal struggles she faced as she dealt with physical abuse from her first child’s father.
ESSENCE caught up with Shanté at the New York premiere of her upcoming biopic, where she gushed about the praise she’s been receiving from fans.
“It’s amazing to have so many fans say, ‘You know what, this story needed to be told'” she said. “I’m not the artist people talk about. I’m not that popular artist. When people say where hip-hop starts they’ll say that it started with some of my other sisters, they don’t necessarily say that it started with me.”
The Queens-native began rapping at an early age, taking on anyone in the Queensbridge housing projects who would battle her. Shanté reached notoriety in the mid to late 80s as a member of the Juice Crew and with her track “Roxanne’s Revenge.”
The rapper says seeing her story unfold on screen was surreal, but adds that it’s not just her story viewers will see. “My main thing was to be able to sit there and be able to know that that’s my story. And, it’s not just my story, it’s everybody’s story. That’s every girl who fell in love with an older man. That’s every girl who was in a bad relationship. That’s every mother that happened to feel like she let her children down. For me, that was all of that and then some. So, I don’t say it’s just my story I say it’s everyone’s story.”
With so much buzz around the film, anyone else in Shanté’s position would be vying for the opportunity to drop an album or follow up with something big. However, the rapper isn’t interested in promoting herself.
“If Roxanne Shanté did an album it would be a ‘Roxanne Shanté Presents‘ because I believe in giving that platform to a lot of sisters whose voices aren’t being heard, who don’t want to compromise their morals, who are afraid to come into the industry because of what they feel is going to happen as far as it being a male-dominated industry, or they need to do this or do that.”
She continued, “I would do a ‘Roxanne Shanté Presents’ album where I would just give sisters that platform in order to be heard. I’m talking about sisters who are right now somewhere performing in their house, performing locally, and not feeling like they can get that opportunity. If a company gives me that opportunity, that’s what Roxanne Shanté is going to do with it.”
And, while many are excited to see Shanté’s story told on screen, it’s been an uphill battle for the rapper.
“Everyone has their own opinion as to who did this and who did that, so you never hear them mention me or even invite me to the awards, things like that. For me, it’s an uphill struggle and battle, but life is a battle and we knew we were going to make this happen.”
Roxanne Roxanne premieres March 23 on Netflix.