Rapper-turned-actress-turned-mogul Queen Latifah star’s on the new cover of ESSENCE’s January issue. Inside the pages, we tell her life story, with a little help from her friends. Just like her fans, those we spoke with had nothing but lovely things to say about Queen.

Rapper MC Lyte, who met Queen in the 80s at a music event, says it was her personality and talent that made her stand out. “Right from the start we were insperable,” she says. “She had this vibrancy. She would just burst into song or if she was telling a story she’s break into an English accent.”

Queen was born an artist with overwhelming support at home. “Artistically, Latifah was free,” says MC Lyte. “She just did whatever she wanted to do. So much of that is because of her mother. Her mother gave her wings to fly.”

Longtime friend to the star Alicia Keys knows Queen’s star shine’s bright.

“My favorite thing about Latifah is her ability to always transform and soar,” says Keys. “She is living her destiny and she is kind and giving and can make you laugh and laugh. She’s totally her own magnificent self.”

They say you can learn so much about a person by what their true friends have to say about them. In this case, it says what we already know. And that is that Queen is an innovator, a game changer, and a star.

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