"This is a story that needs to be told. 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."
Stories about record companies screwing musicians out of royalties are standard news, but Roxanne Shante's struggle with her former label has a happy ending.
In 1984 at age 14, Shante had a hit called “Roxanne’s Revenge,” a response to UTFO’s hit “Roxanne, Roxanne.” Considered hip hop’s first female celeb, Shante came before Lil’ Kim, Salt-N-Pepa and Queen Latifah, but did not get as big as they did, and in addition, shady record contracts meant she saw few royalties.
Instead of despairing or giving up, 19-year-old Shante remembered a clause in her Warner Music record contract: the company offered to pay for her education for life. Although she struggled to get them to hold up their end of the deal (Shante figures it was a clause they probably threw in never thinking a teenage mother from the projects would care about education), they finally relented. $217,000 later, she got her PhD in psychology from Cornell in 2001. Shante, now 38, focuses her therapy practice on urban African-Americans who tend to balk at seeking mental health help.
In addition to being a therapist, she offers $5,000 college scholarships each semester to female rappers and gives advice to aspiring female musicians on her MySpace page. Roxanne’s revenge, indeed!